Originally posted on Medium.
When we think about personal finance, we often first think about the numbers. Sizing up our income, expenses, and investment returns gives us a clear picture of where we stand, right?
I would argue, not so much.
When I work with clients, we look to the numbers to provide benchmarks on spending, saving, and investment habits. The numbers are definitely helpful, but they actually serve a higher purpose as well: they give us insight into our money mindset. Our mindset sets the tone for our relationship with money, and through my work, I’ve noticed that in my clients’ money journeys, there’s a moment when that mindset is transformed, and everything becomes easy. They start taking actions that bring them closer to their goals rather than further away from them. They experience more happiness and less stress. Their money decisions no longer feel agonizing — they feel simple and reflexive.
I’ve found that, over time, this mindset shift becomes more and more ingrained in our way of thinking. We continue to improve on and grow our positive money habits, and they become more natural and automatic as time goes on. When I check in with clients months and even years later, they report back that they are progressing easily and swiftly towards their money goals. Of course, we all experience hiccups and hit roadblocks — that’s part of every journey but generally speaking, the trajectory towards wealth and financial well-being trends up.
As I’ve watched this mindset shift happen over and over again, I’ve gotten more and more curious about what exactly causes this change in perspective. I thought to myself, if I can understand that, I can help facilitate this transformation even more quickly and effectively.
I started to consider and analyze what characteristic actually causes this remarkable shift. I knew that it had to do with a mindset of scarcity versus a mindset of abundance, and I could easily tell which state of mind a client was in (just as I could easily tell what state of mind I was in), but I never knew exactly when the mindset transformation would happen or what would trigger it to occur.
Now, after years of conversations and coaching sessions, I’ve discovered the mantras that make all the difference. Ready?
When we are in a place of “it’s never enough,” we will be trapped in a mindset of scarcity, and will find it challenging to achieve our long-term money goals. On the other hand, when we are in a place of “it’s already more than enough” we experience an incredible shift in mindset. Moving between one mantra to the other sparks a huge mindset breakthrough.
Think about it. When we’re in a scarcity mindset, we’re constantly chasing more. We might think that if we doubled our salaries, it would be more than enough, but studies show that’s not the case. We will just want to double our salaries again and the cycle continues.
There are people who are incredibly wealthy who feel that they are poor and money is scarce. The scarcity mindset even afflicts people who stumble onto sudden wealth. Think of the 70 percent of lottery winners (according to one study in Florida) who spent every cent of their prize within five years of winning. Even after winning millions or hundreds of millions of dollars, it still wasn’t enough. I can go on and on with examples but as you can imagine, we can’t earn our way out of this. If we try, it will never be enough. Luckily, there’s another way of thinking that’s a lot less stressful and a lot more powerful.
It’s already more than enough. Let that thought sink in for a moment. Really try to believe it. You already have more than enough. When we allow this shift in our thinking, we immediately go to a place of gratitude for all that we have. Of course, we may want things that we don’t have, but in this abundant mindset, those things aren’t the focus. The irony is, when we are coming from a place of abundance, we attract more of it. As our mindset transforms, we develop a more positive relationship with money, which in turn brings — you guessed it — more wealth. A mindset of abundance really works in our favor.
When my clients are loving life, reaching their goals, feeling grateful for the meaning they get from their spending, and experiencing a general sense of ease around their money lives, it’s because they’ve discovered the biggest secret to long-lasting financial happiness: they believe they already have more than enough. This mindset is how we make the incredible shift towards a positive relationship with our money. We may all return to a mindset of scarcity from time to time, and it’s natural to slip a little, especially as we get used to our new mantra. But when we catch ourselves and reframe our thinking, we spend more and more of our time in a place of gratitude, and that makes all the difference for our financial wellness and well-being.