One of the main things about being a entrepreneur and business owner is that I’m always looking at our financials. Daily. I was a Finance manager and have always had money on my mind. How to make it. How to spend it. How to use other people’s money to create even more opportunities. How to build wealth…
When I first started seeing some real success in real estate – it was all about the money. And I just wanted more and more and more. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to make money. In fact, it’s selfish not to make as much money as possible in order to give as much as possible. But when I was 27 years old I wasn’t thinking about philanthropy, I was thinking about my next Porsche. And that’s what I did. I went on lavish trips, bought an expensive watch, purchased a Porsche, and built a beautiful house on the lake (which was so badass that Mike Myers, aka Austin Powers, bought it).
And then I got depressed.
I was acquiring material items in search of a feeling – fulfillment, significance, self-worth, pride, security, happiness. Sure, I felt great a few days or weeks after my purchase, but those feelings ultimately went away and I started looking for my next high. When you go through life like this, you are never happy and you can never have enough and you’ve created a vicious cycle of needing to consume more and more.
What we’ve got to do is get at the root of what money means to you. Why do you want to make money? Why do you desire the things you desire? Write down everything that money means to you: security, power, self-worth, pride, significance, excitement, joy, importance, peace, reliability, strength, confidence, capability, respect, freedom. Better yet, try this exercise. Write down all the things you want in life in one column. And why (i.e. the emotion they would elicit) in another column.
We want money for the feeling it will give us. It’s really the feeling, the emotional state, we’re after, not the money or material item itself. Money is just a number, but the meaning we associate with money is powerful and can make us feel unsettled inside. If we don’t have enough money or aren’t making what we think we should be making we are worried and anxious, and feel inadequate and insecure. If we see other’s with more success (i.e. more money) than us, we might feel envious, jealous, or angry. So, the logical conclusion would be, if we get more money, we won’t feel those ways, right? I mean, the media and the masses would tell you the same. We are pumped with images and messages that say: Buy this $5,000 suit and you’ll land the job, find a partner, and be sipping cocktails on the beach in no time. Are they really selling the suit or are they selling fulfillment, family, and fun? High self-esteem and happiness does not come in a box. It comes from within. What if we flipped that chart around and went after the emotion first?
If you want to feel significant, what activity or experience could you engage in to feel that way? Use the chart on the right for more ideas and to make your own emotion/activity chart. Having go-to activities can help you stay in the emotional state that you are after longer and help you understand how to get to them faster. Some of the best ways to get and keep the emotions you are after are to meditate, engage in physical activity, enjoy nature, and practice gratitude. All of those activities will promote higher self-esteem and confidence, so we will have less of a need for external validation from other people and through material goods. Confidence does not mean you know everything. Confidence means you know you can handle anything that comes your way and can find the answer. Confidence comes from trying things you’ve never done before, and whether you succeed or fail, knowing that you will come out on the other side just fine. It’s about knowing your worth, knowing what you are capable of, and not needing external validation.
The more you can be okay with just being you, the less of a concern money becomes. You will be you no matter how much money you have in the bank. When you get to this place of surrender and inner peace it’s freeing. Think about those people who are controlled by money. You know them, right? You know that money controls their life. Conversely, you know those people who understand that money is simple an effective tool to enjoy life’s journey, to give to others, to support their family, to go on vacation, or to buy material items. But those items do not control those individuals. Those material items, charitable donations, or trips are just an outcome of their inner strength. Interestingly enough, once you surrender and stop allowing money to control you, you actually attract more money into your life! Pretty cool, right?
Throughout the world, money may find some people and it may not find others, but it should never dictate your happiness or fulfillment. Stop going through life thinking that money is going to give you a feeling. Work on the feeling first, and the money will follow.