How much time do you waste trying to solve problems that haven’t happened yet? Many of us fixate on problems that might happen tomorrow, next week or several years in the future, and this is not what life and financial planning are about. Getting stuck in the future at the cost of living life to its fullest today is precisely what we’re trying to avoid! This is why we talk so much about being mindful.
Dr Susan David says that true mindfulness is when the mind stops insisting on being rational, stops being a problem-solving or indexing machine, and becomes more of a sponge than a calculator. It just is.
This is a beautiful take on mindfulness – seeing our awareness as a sponge to soak up what’s happening right now, to be present and conscious. It also helps us see our natural inclination to calculate, problem-solve and plan for the ifs and maybes in our future. Mindfulness helps our money in that it allows us to use what we have today in a way that will make our future-self grateful; in other words, it helps us avoid making choices that we might regret.
When we see planning as a way to create a specific future for ourselves, we limit ourselves to one perspective of our future, limiting our ability to accept different outcomes and causing heaps of self-sabotage in the process. We find ourselves stuck in old narratives and developing a cynicism toward ourselves and others.
This is not helpful planning; it’s destructive and impossible to stick to.
Instead, when we practice financial planning that is linked to our life choices, not our income, markets or products, we have to become more mindful of what our life truly looks like and how we’d like to make empowered choices for ourselves and our family.
Mindfulness with our money helps us see the world through multiple perspectives.
Multiple perspectives open up our financial conversations to be more inclusive, interwoven with the thoughts and feelings of those we love and trust, and this is incredibly empowering. Speaking with your partner, kids and parents about money means that you don’t have to shoulder the burden of “providing for the future” alone. It also allows us to draw on the strengths of the different money personalities in our family and reduce our blind spots.
Mindfulness with our money enables us to move forward with higher levels of acceptance.
It’s tough to move forward if we expect one specific outcome, and it doesn’t happen the way we expected. We will see this as an all-consuming failure. But when we can plan with multiple perspectives, we can move forward with a more profound acceptance of different outcomes. It’s not about accepting second-best or finding a compromise; it’s about totally changing our mindset around how success will look.
Mindfulness with our money cultivates tolerance and self-kindness
Rational, problem-solving, calculative behaviour causes us to try and save all our money for future crises and expenses. Mindful sponginess allows us to see how we can invest in experiences and relationships that we enjoy today. This is not to say that we don’t invest for tomorrow, but it helps us find that healthy balance between enjoying life today AND tomorrow.
Mindfulness with our money allows us to practice non-judgement
A strong focus on our own lives, relationships, dreams and goals takes the focus off what others are doing and protects us from comparing ourselves to others. This is a powerful and all-too-often understated benefit of personal lifestyle financial planning.
Mindfulness with our money equips us to rework old-narratives
To a large extent, managing our money has changed significantly from how our parents and grandparents managed their money. This is because money and life are linked – when life changes, money changes and when money changes, life changes. If we adopt a growth mindset with our money, we will find ourselves freshly equipped to re-think and re-build strategies to use our money wisely.
Ultimately, we need to slow down and create space to be intentional with our choices. This applies to life as much as it does to our money. By taking care of ourselves today, we take the first step to taking care of ourselves tomorrow.