After a 22-year career in financial services, I kept returning to an unsettling thought that something was very wrong with our perceptions of money, both individually and as a society. As I delved deeper into understanding the issues at hand, I could see how we've been sold a series of lies about money -- and many of us bought them hook, line and sinker!
The most deceptive of all begins with the belief that money equals happiness and if you want to be happier you just have to figure out how to get more money.
Yes, analysis completed in 2011 by Angus Deaton, Ph.D. and Daniel Kahneman, Ph.D. using data from a Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (GHWBI) shows that money can make you happier by having a household income of up to $75,000. The problem is that cultural norms do not teach us to be satisfied with a specific income and so even if data tells us we do not get happier beyond $75,000, that doesn't keep us from striving for more.
Our mental training about money starts very early in life according to research by Cambridge University and is heavily influenced by a system that says more is better.
Another challenge affecting our relationship with money stems from a system that teaches us how to think convergently where there is only one answer to any given problem. This type of training often saps our creativity and feeds into how we make decisions and interact with others. In the case of wanting to find greater levels of happiness in life, we've been taught it will come from money and you need to either acquire more or go without and be unhappy.
Yet, when we think the only way we can solve our problems is by having more money, we become a slave to the 'machine.' We must continue to work hard, pay our dues, sacrifice our personal goals all in order to make more money and continue to support the system. No matter how hard we may try, ultimately we are playing this game called 'life' by other people's rules, which may be one reason why there are so few winners and many losers when it comes to money.
However, when we learn how to change our money mindset so we think creatively and divergently, whereby allowing our problems, even those with money, to be addressed with an endless range of solutions, we take control of our own lives and leave the machine behind.
There are five key steps to thinking more creatively when it comes to money:
Step 1 -- Learn who you really are (outside of the past stories you've been 'sold.')
Step 2 -- Know what is most important to you and what you want (and need) to be able to flourish.
Step 3 -- Create a personalized action plan according to your three Ps -- principles, passion, and purpose so you have a map of where you want to go.
Step 4 -- Know you have the power to bring your dreams into reality.
Step 5 -- Ensure you have the necessary support and resources.
When you learn how to change your mind and identify the endless array of possibilities available to you when it comes to money, you will see there is absolutely nothing holding you back from achieving the financial and personal freedom you seek.