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Why is it that no matter how important or life transforming it would be to change a behaviour or to follow through on a promise to ourselves; why is it so easy to sabotage everything we have worked for or that we dream about?
Over and over again.
So often, before I can truly help someone make a shift in how they set up their accounts or finances, I find myself fascinated by the obstacles that they throw up for not wanting to do even the simplest of tasks.
In the early days, in my naive self I thought that as long as I shared what I knew with someone, that person would be able to move forward. I was innocent enough to think that as long as I was giving knowledge, that was the key. They already had the willpower right? After all they had come to me, not the other way around. So that meant they were ready to get to work.
I quickly learned that is not so. Unless the motivation or the fear is identified, all the knowledge in the world will not make any difference.
My journey of up and down finances and up and down weight had nothing to do with my lack of knowledge. I am trained in accounts, and I can tell you the calorific composition and fat content of most foods from the top of my head. That is how much of a food nerd I was.
I was a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno when they were still bodybuilders and the general public had no idea who they were. Yet it didn’t stop me making poor health choices, and trusting my finances to people who were obviously not right to advise me, and told me what I wanted to hear. That allowed me to avoid what was hard, painful and confusing.
Every time I put on a few pounds I would read more, join another group or buy another DVD.
When all I had to do was commit to making small manageable changes. Then do them over and over again until I did them despite how I felt or what had happened that day. I also hadn’t learned that to do that is easier when you have someone in your corner. No matter how good a boxer you may be, you need a cut man in your corner to patch you up. The person to tell you that you can do it, and to give you some quick tips to get you back on track so that you can go back out into the ring again feeling confident.
The problem is that the fear of feeling foolish can get in the way of even finding someone like that although you know you need them.
The subject of money and weight brings out the evasive side of us. How many times have you been asked a direct question like “How much do you earn?” or “How much do you weigh?” and given answers with lots of words but no numbers?
Practical questions met with emotional responses.
Then you feel silly and inadequate and silently vow to get yourself sorted out. Willpower goes into overdrive, you feel revitalised and then slowly but surely, you slip back into the old pattern. With me a bad day would send me running for scones with cream and jam. Just the one, I would say and then I will start again tomorrow. But then tomorrow would come and I felt so annoyed with myself for the slip up the day before, I would have a cheesecake to make myself feel better.
I knew that one cheesecake or scone wouldn’t pile the weight back just like that so I have time to get my willpower back in gear. Then 6 months later when I can only fit into one third of my clothes, it would dawn on me that I left it a little late. Things only really began to improve when I stopped trying to do it all on my own; with only willpower and information overload as my support team.
How does this play out with business money?
Picture the business owner stung by late penalty charges. He or she vows to be on time with their business taxes and pay them on time next year. That is willpower at play.
Now picture the business owner stung by late penalty charges who hires a bookkeeper so they don’t have the same mad rush at the end of the year. Now that is putting a cut man in the corner of the ring.
Someone that deals with the cut while it is fresh, while there is still a chance of winning the bout.
There may well be some people in this world who are so self-motivated, self-disciplined, do not suffer doubt, rarely procrastinate, and are able to keep their emotions out of all business decisions. If this sounds like you, you are truly a rare breed.
If not, then understand that as talented as you are, ambitious, determined and knowledgeable as you may be, you will slip up or slip back.
You will lose momentum and heart, because willpower tends to run out before we hit our goals. But that is because you are human, not to mention any other personal issues you may be dealing with at any given time.
It is quicker to build in mechanisms than to change a pattern. The trick is to have those mechanisms in place to keep you on track as you work on yourself or your situation. For me, it was Weight Watchers for 5 months; when it came to business, I joined BNI for a year, because both held me accountable when I needed it. Knowing that others had an expectation of me and that I could share issues speeded up my “transformation”.
It was tough but I wasn’t alone.
Fess up time
What are you dealing with alone right now?
What are you beating yourself up about that comes back to wind you up time and time again?
Are you avoiding asking for help because you feel asking for assistance would be an admission of inadequacy or failure?
What’s your story of financial willpower? Leave a comment below.
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