It is long known in the self-help literature that mindset is the origin of our actions, in such a way that even if you repeated the same steps, these wouldn’t lead to precisely the same results because of the intent (the why, so to speak) is not the same. The origin of our expression is the mindset in any shape or form. So, it’s our most precious treasure, a treasure which cannot be stolen away from us, but it can be evolved or damaged if we allow other people that.
I’ll cover the relationship of mindset with money in my own experience and knowledge for this post. Our worldview and how we perceive our environment dictate our thought process with the filter of our beliefs. This previous statement might sound a bit abstract, but here’s a concrete example: Let’s say I want this Panerai watch on my wrist. Most people would be shocked at the price tag, but I often see high-priced items as a challenge instead of a showstopper event like most people do. I prepare myself financially for it, and that might mean saving on living expenses and laying out a monthly plan for how much money I can afford to put aside for it. That’s how I’d approach that purchase.
For the previous example: since it’s not an asset that produces regular income for me, it doesn’t make sense to buy it on credit. Only income-producing assets are worth buying on credit if the investment plus the profits exceed the entire cost of the incurred debt for the operation.
What Separates Rich People from Poor People and Why
It often is the opportunity, but it’s also the mindset when an opportunity comes around. You can miss the chance entirely if you’re not ready to take advantage of a good option. The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer, which is a visible effect of the outcome the collective mindset produces, in my opinion. Taking aside any conspiracy theories or thoughts on capitalism vs communism, you cannot deny that repeated actions (given opportunities) have specific results over time, which is a natural consequence of what you think or may not think, what you know or might ignore about your finances.
The easiest way to explain this effect is with junk food and healthy food. If you constantly consume junk food and candies instead of healthy food, disregard your body health and live a sedentary life, what do you think your body will become within five years? It’s a matter of priorities.
In the case of money, purchasing depreciating items instead of profit-producing assets will destroy your finances, so you may not have too much room to recover. As a technologist at heart, if I were to purchase the latest computer every six months, the most expensive gadget, the brightest TV, soon enough, I’ll run out of money in my savings bank account. The same applies to people addicted to luxury items. Once you fall too deep into the hole, you may not be able to recover yourself anymore from the spot.
Previously I mentioned that frequently people could be talented but might not have the opportunity to rise above their means. Well, the environment happens to influence our capacity to produce. It’s true that with the Internet landscape we have today, we have every chance to become Internet millionaires in a short period. Still, it can’t get too far if you live in Venezuela and have to worry about power and water shortages and make your way around it. Not to be a defeatist, but again, priorities matter.
Once you’re very poor, poverty becomes your new regular environment and influences your mindset for the long term and potentially many generations over. It could even become a thing that you cannot afford to think about self-realisation because you have to worry about what you will take for dinner tonight. You cannot exercise your will freely, given some limited choices, and you miss the chance of expressing yourself in the broadest terms.
The environment matters, especially when taken from a time standpoint. Our upbringing also determines what thought patterns and beliefs we have. If you’re born into a very traditional family in South America, and you’re a girl, your upbringing will aim towards getting married and childbearing in your early adult years. If you’re born a boy, you’re pushed to pursue the same career in the university as your father. He probably studied the same degree as your grandfather if he didn’t happen to be a business owner or a blue-collar worker of a determined speciality (blacksmith, lumberjack, a soldier in any previous World War, among other physical jobs). This statement is not to say that childbearing or inheriting the breadwinning principles from your parents is inherently evil. Still, it’s challenging why you should follow the blueprint that is being forced onto you, given you happen to experience this in your culture.
This upbringing gets etched in our minds so that the more time it passes, the more is buried in our Shadow Personalities, but not because it’s hidden from our consciousness it means it’s effectless. It’s actually “our default programming”, which governs our actions and beliefs. Any change to it must be a deliberate, willful effort. Otherwise, we will not be able to impact our future in any meaningful way. We want our future to be brighter as ever, don’t we?
One mindset that we must fight with all claws and teeth is the mindset “wait to be given mindset.” The mindset causes an individual to live an impoverished life because these expectations are seldom met, not even by the governments. Instead, replace it with the “go and get it” mindset of effective action towards solid results. I’d rather be in the most control of my mindset; it improves my chances of succeeding at my objectives.
Whatever mindset we had in the past (alongside our actions) led us to be in today’s position. The next level of results will require the next level of thinking.
You Keep Saying “Priorities Matter,” but What Do You Mean?
The order of your priorities will determine the impact of said priorities on your actions and your life in general. I’m not saying the money should be your number one priority, but it should be among your top 3 priorities. I’d dare to say that priorities impact on an exponential scale, being the most impactful the first one you have. In my case, Freedom is my number one priority. I have yet to determine if I prefer “freedom to” or “freedom from,” I’m currently in the middle of both.
We could continuously optimise for the Freedom to have options. What kind of options do you want to have? The opportunity to buy a very nice car? The chance to wake up anytime in the morning? The possibility to be the CEO of your own company? By having that defined, it’s easier to prepare financially for it.
If money is not within your top 3 priorities, be ready to starve. Your finances will suffer. You’ll not give any serious thought to any financial challenge you currently have. You’ll only experience its consequences and suffer from these, but think about a solution? Hell, that’s too much work!
I have a friend who is a Professional Services provider for small and medium businesses, and whilst he happily tackles any technical challenge he’s facing, at the moment of billing the customer, it gets all weird. He has difficulty determining a price tag for his services and often lowballs them. When I need his services, I always tell him to bill me accordingly, not cheap, but not expensive. No discounts are necessary.
Maybe he’s suffered from some financial trauma in the past, but he’s my friend. If I can help fix that, I’ll be glad to lend a hand. I want him to be profitable with the best of my intentions, so it’s my duty to ensure the value exchange (results delivered in exchange for money) is in a win-win balance. I’m not interested in win-lose business relationships, whether I’m on the winning side or the losing end of it. It’s also unethical for me to accept discounts if you’ve provided value to me and you are not in great financial shape. Unfortunately, few people are willing to extend their hand of help this way.
Another friend offered me copywriting services for my other blogs (to remediate a debt of money I lent her), and everything was smooth sailing until she said, “I can write your articles for free!”. Record screech! I had to inspect the motivation behind that offering. She’s skilled at writing, but no wonder she’s in financial trouble. Was this a market acquisition strategy or the approach of desperation? It would have been excellent as a market acquisition strategy, but this was not likely the reason. I had to refuse this offer because if I want to help her, it’s not at the expense of making her invest time and resources for free, an action that will not end up paying her debts sooner, independently of who she had to pay.
On a side note, work done from a desperation standpoint tends to be of lower quality than work done with the mind free of worry strains. This approach also leads to a vicious cycle of poverty; lower quality work leads to lower productivity, lower quality employers (employers being cheap with your work), you start having fewer choices continually, “life happens”, and start over with this cycle. When there’s no food on the table, no wishful thought can withstand the force of a hungry stomach.
On the other hand, work done with the psychological safety of money in the bank; you can provide free samples to gather new customers. Even the sales pitch is different: “Here’s an article at no cost to your expenses so that you can assess the quality of my craft. If the quality of my writing is up to the standards you’re looking for, I’ll be glad to offer you a quote for my services.” It leaves you with a good taste, thinking: “It must be great to work with this person.” The difference in mindset is of investment; a “free offer” (a business cost of the provider), to produce a sale later where this cost is recouped and then some.
Both of these stories are not with the intention of self-praising how great I am with people but are to present examples of how priorities and beliefs get in the way of doing effective business deals and therefore building a better future for themselves. The former story is a conflict of beliefs (being a businessman at the same time as having difficulties billing people). For the latter, it’s a problem of priorities, where the art of copywriting is one of the highest priorities (and that’s great); it’s just that money probably doesn’t appear in her top 3 priorities.
What Else Is Money?
Money is also a voting instrument. Do you disagree with your children’s school’s political agenda or value system? Enrol your children in another school. And for this, you need to have built this capacity for execution. In short words, you need to have created for yourself the possibility to have this cash.
Let’s say you would like to become an athlete. Some sports are almost free (free in money terms) to become, for example, an endurance athlete, and you run marathons regularly. Some other sports require a regular financial commitment, for instance: a Motocross racer, but you’d not have access to this if you can’t even afford to purchase a dirt bike. Of course, any serious athlete committed to their goals has other costs they cannot avoid: time and effort.
Assigning the wrong values to money will make it look dirty. So, money being a tool for our objectives, we have to be healthy about what we think about it, lest we want to suffer in this economy, no matter the country we live in. You’ve got to be comfortable with the topic of money, to be able to study it and make plans about it.
Money, to me, is a social construct that it’s only effective as long as civilisation functions. However, whatever you believe about money, whether you think it’s made up or a value exchange medium, money has real consequences in your life.
Our economic standpoint has its origin in our thoughts. Money is a mental game with financial consequences, whether poverty or wealth.
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