Being Fully Present, Financially

October 17, 2022

You know that feeling when you’re with a group of people you love, and your mind is ruminating on something a thousand miles away?

You're chewing on work stress, relationship issues, fears or worries. And you're totally missing the joys of the moment.

Not only do you not come to any helpful conclusions about your worries. You also miss out on the opportunity to be rejuvenated.

In a similar way, there is power and peace in being where you are, financially.Think about what happens when you avoid it:

  • You spend with a blind eye and a pit of guilt in your stomach.
  • You pretend things are better than they are, and end up in a financial predicament.
  • You think things are worse than they are and beat yourself up or live in scarcity.
  • You don’t let yourself move on from unhelpful decisions of the past.
  • Your patterns and results don’t change or improve.

What happens when you decide to be present, financially:

1. You draw boundaries around your situation.

A problem you can quantify is a problem you can solve, I say. This is certainly true for account balances, spending amounts, and the like.

Problems remaining vague and undefined causes a lot of financial stress. Clients may say that their problem is that the run out of money before payday. Or that they have increasing balances on their credit cards. Or that they spend too much.

But they don’t know why these things happen until they get fully present financially.

The solution?

  1. Know how much you have in all the debt. Instead of "tons" of debt, put a number on it.
  2. Know how much you spend—in glorious detail. Have a concrete number describing how much money you spend each month.
  3. Know the dollar discrepancy between your income and your realistic spending each month.

Doing these things turn your fears into facts that you can look squarely in the eye. And start fighting for yourself and your future.

It reminds me of a favorite quote from my childhood best friend: “I see you're missing an eye, pilgrim! Now this makes it a fair fight!”*

Image of the animated mouse, Fievel
Bonus points if you can name the movie from this image!

2. You stop looking in the rearview mirror.

When you decide to “be where you are” financially, you stop holding your past against yourself. When you hold your past against yourself, you make it mean you can’t be different now or in the future.

Clients come to me in varying stages of embarrassment about their financial situation.

  • About their debt, about their habits, about their paycheck-to-paycheck life.
  • About where they think they should be financially.
  • About past decisions—which degree they pursued in college, financing decisions they’ve made, etc.

They tell me what they’ve tried that hasn’t worked, with an assumption that nothing will work in the future.

It’s a real doozy, feeling this way. Especially since it keeps them from creating peace in their present and feeling optimism about their future.

But the great news is that they are talking about it! And if you’re reading this post, it indicates you too are open to changing and believing that the future can be different for you.

Sure, it's true that:

Money you’ve spent can’t be recovered.

Consumables can’t be un-consumed and converted back to dollars.

Certain debts which can’t be quickly undone or unloaded.

But holding the past against yourself and wallowing in regret only keeps you stuck.

3. You realize the future can involve different choices.

When you stop avoiding your current financial situation, you start looking out the windshield of life toward your future. You start seeing how you can create a different future for yourself.

When I saw—on paper—exactly where I was, and how I could reach my #1 goal of being debt-free, everything changed. I saw a future I hadn’t thought possible.

Turns out I’d been spending too much time looking through the rearview mirror. I'd been avoiding being fully present in the driver’s seat, and thus couldn’t even see down the road.

It was a game-changer to see that my goal was possible. And that I could actually enjoy my present even more while I worked toward it.

The feeling of hope about your future gives you more control over your present, which yields peace and optimism in your present. It’s like a wonderfully virtuous cycle, one I recommend for everyone.

How present are you financially? Could today be the day you start making your numbers concrete, let go of the past, and get excited about the future?

*From An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. Who knew that Fievel was spelled with a "v"? I can appreciate it now that I'm learning German, but until the very moment, I thought it was spelled with two "f"s. Learning new stuff is fun :)

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