No one is coming. No white knight, no silver bullet, no bail out. This is up to each of us to get right, and our lives and legacies depend upon it.
Financial wellness and financial education are two very different things. Financial wellness is based in behavioral science, adult learning theory and even in the neuro-science of improving our odds of higher performance in the financial component of this game called life.
We all want to have the tools, tactics and techniques to obtain financial well-being. But first, we need to take a step back and acknowledge that it is the doing, or better known as the behavior, that is the engine that drives our success. And, if we want to understand what fuels those behaviors, we must take one more step back and unpack our thoughts, beliefs and assumptions around money; in other words, how we are being.
This is partially why financial wellness is different than just financial education. The formula for success is more than only having the head knowledge, facts and figures. It must include the healthiest behaviors along with the empowering beliefs.
And, it’s this powerful concept of aiming how we are being that makes the financial wellness so special., and rarely understood, much less harnessed. The behavioral scientists refer to these beliefs as “scripts, tapes, or records” and the crazy part is that the vast majority were given to us by authoritative figures from the earliest years in our lives. That’s right, it’s not our fault! We were taught all of this head trash!
So, let’s make a deal. For the remainder of the time you spend with me in these writings, we agree that you’re going to leave Mom in the car…crack the windows, give her a bottle of water; she’ll be fine.
Poor Mom! OK, just kidding about Mom, but serious about the self-limiting beliefs from the authoritative figures from our youth!
- Could our most powerful strength also be our biggest barrier? – Let’s take a look at how we think each and every day. Scientists estimate that the average person has 50,000 to 60,000 thoughts a day. The brain essentially wants to be as efficient as possible, so it repeats many of the same thinking processes again and again, rather than taking the effort and energy to carve out new types of thought pathways. About 90% of the thought pathways we have built, we use again. These are very efficient and repetitive.
What science has learned is that unfortunately 70% to 85% of these repetitive thoughts are negative or have a negative connotation. If we’re repeating the same thoughts many, many times a day and many of those thoughts have a negative bias, you can see how our thinking may in fact be tripping us up.
- Who exactly are you trying to convince? – Larry Burkett famously said, “We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.”. Fear and pride are real things and play into our behavioral decision making each and every. What are some ideas that you might implement to counter some of your most common financial soothing mechanisms?
- Take the helm; this is your ship. – You’re worried about some things, and we get it…you’re not alone. We have all faced financial distress…no matter how much money we have, our career choice or what stage of life we happen to be in. To give just a few examples which reflect American workers: The American Psychological Association’s survey on stress determined that 72% of American adults are stressed about money, at least some of the time and 26% are stressed about money most or all of the time. And factors like being female or being a parent increases the likelihood that you feel stress around money.
In a separate report, it was found that 60% of American workers distress over financial issues impacts their ability to focus at work and has caused 1 in 3 of us to miss or be late for work because of their financial situation.
Money impacts every single area of our lives, with our work, our families and that stress certainly isn’t doing our health any favors. So, how do we fix it? Well it starts with our thinking. So much so, that much of our lives are pre-occupied with negative thoughts about money. And by allowing those thoughts to exist, we allow no space for creating solutions.
Please don’t misunderstand, financial wellness is not some mumbo-jumbo, positive self-talk solution…instead it’s about real life, practical application that you can implement right away.
Remember, financial wellness isn’t just about education, it’s about taking action…and sometimes that action is simply making a decision. Oftentimes, the first decision is what we chose to think or believe about money, which will then create healthier financial behaviors.