Forget the money. Now what?

If money were no issue, what would you do?

This question has been asked a million times.

Have you given it much thought?

This is a question begging for you to connect to your wildest fantasies and think about how you’d like to engage in life. It can really point to some important and interesting things about oneself.

What images are rising to the surface as you image your life unencumbered by the need to earn a living, or manage wealth that has already been earned?

How different is your vision for this fantasy life from the vision you hold for yourself knowing money is a factor to consider (a very big factor for most of us)?

My vision, considering I need to make a living, is to engage in work I enjoy, that fosters growth and allows me to support the growth of others. I envision making enough money so that paying my bills is never a stress, with enough left over to save, and some to spend on “fun”. I envision having plenty of time outside of work to maintain my balance in holistic self care (if you have any questions about what this means, please click here to download the free Health Impacts Health Assessment).  I don’t want anything too crazy. I just want to be healthy and happy.

This vision is so different from the one I have if money were not an issue.

Yes, of course, I want balance and health and happiness. These are core values, but the ways in which I would live these value would be so much more extreme.

I would choose to engage in 3 primary ways:

  1. Outdoor wilderness excursions (with leadership missions) ie. NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School- check it out if you have ever wanted to venture into the wild for extreme personal growth opportunities).
  2. Luxury trips around the world with only the finest of everything.
  3. Life at home with my simple, beautiful surroundings and simple beautiful coaching practice, and complex beautiful relationships.

I could go on and on in exploring and explaining why I am drawn to these 3 things in particular, but it doesn’t really matter to make the point of this blog. It just goes to show how much money does control motivations, beliefs, and behavior.

How do your visions for fantasy life and real-life compare?

Here’s what happens when you’re TOO focused

Michelle was consumed with paying off her debt. When she talked, it was clear that this singular goal had highjacked her mind. She had entered tunnel vision and was quickly losing insight.

In her mind, she was doing everything she could- working multiple jobs and putting all of her earnings into debt repayment. She made no time for others, no time for herself. It was all about paying down the deficit. When I asked about her sense of urgency, she explained that being in debt to her meant entrapment. Being debt free symbolized freedom. She had a clear vision and it’s all that seemed to matter.

What’s wrong with that, you may be asking? What’s wrong with motivation? Striving towards one’s goals? Paying back what is borrowed is admirable. Wouldn’t we all love to be debt free?

Here’s the deal: when the mind is consumed with a problem, there is no room for anything else. You can’t see beyond the tunnel and cognitive capacity is diminished. The mind sounds an alarm. In Michelle’s case, it was “pay attention to the debt – you’re trapped until it’s gone”. The actions she was taking (the jobs, the extra payments, the social isolation) quieted the alarm…temporarily. As soon as she slowed down, the alarm bells became louder. She was unable to focus on anything else.

When I asked how satisfied she was with her efforts, she reported a counter-intuitive outcome. Instead of feeling empowered and satisfied, she was falling apart. She wasn’t sleeping. She wasn’t eating well or exercising. She hadn’t had a date night with her spouse or a kid-focused afternoon with her son in months. Most surprisingly perhaps was her continued mismanagement of money. She was paying all of her debt, sometimes 2 or 3 credit card payments a month, but her scarcity mentality robbed her of the mental capacity to budget, plan ahead, save, and prepare for her on-going, recurrent and novel expenses.

This was leading to, you guessed it, more debt and a more profound sense of entrapment. She was in a tunnel-vision induced, scarcity-thinking spiral. She needed help.

Good thing she knew about integrative health coaching!

As difficult as it was for her to admit, she needed to stop focusing so exclusively on solving her problem. The antidote to her debt consumption was to do something, anything, that was unrelated. She needed to step outside of the tunnel. This was the only way to free up space in her mind for more effective problem solving, action planning, and insight. She needed balance in her life to be successful in her financial goals.

The bottom line is this: When we behave from a place of scarcity and enter tunnel vision, we often don’t realize what we are doing is worsening the problem rather than accomplishing our goal.

This article was based on an inspiring episode of Hidden Brain, one of my favorite podcasts. The diminished capacity for executive function brought on by scarcity thinking is a topic of current research. The notion is based on limited bandwidth. Check it out here.






Money and (un)happiness

Money cannot buy happiness. Sometimes I think otherwise. Sometimes I think that a shopping spree at J. Crew, or a vacation to someplace tropical, or a West Elm redesign is what my life is lacking. Sometimes I think if all my debt was paid I would have a different perspective. But I know that these are just ways of distracting.

Last week reaffirmed the truth. Happiness comes from within.

If you were to ask me how my week was, I would report all good things. New clients. Positive feedback. Self care. It was truly a great week!

But on Friday I started getting a really low feeling. Often on Fridays I feel this way and chalk it up to being tired. But my week was very balanced and my energy tank full.

Being a super self aware person, I have a habit of connecting my ever changing moods to the various elements of health. If I am feeling down and can point to a cause, I can create solutions. If I know what is working, perhaps I can cultivate more.

In my history of unhappy times, financial health has been the most obvious source of my stress. This goes back to my childhood messages about money as a scarcity. So on Friday when I was doing my habitual “what could the problem be?” exploration, since I wasn’t tired, I began contemplating if the solution to my happiness was somehow related to money.

I mean, it’s April so I have the quintuple whammy of LLC filings, personal filings, and accountant fees on top of an estimated quarterly payment, and a secretary of state LLC report. I am also going on a relatively impromptu trip at the end of the month which is costly in itself, but also means I am away from work for 10 days. (You’ll want to follow next months blogs as I dive into exactly what this trip is all about, so stay tuned). And lastly, I paid for a big time national exam for health and wellness coaches, on top of planning for all my other April bills and half of May (seeing as how I’ll be on that trip and all)- whew!

Despite the recipe for financial stress, that also did not fit to explain my mood. I have had great coaching around my financial stressors, have created plans to save, and stay on top of these cluster expenses, so I’m good there too.

Since I quickly ruled out the most likely scenarios, I had to do what any mindful individual does when they fall into a mood…just roll with it. I didn’t judge it, or try to change it, and I certainly didn’t go out spending a bunch of money thinking material goods could shift my blues.

Since happiness comes from within, I gave myself the chance to connect with my inner wisdom (be quiet and no complaining). From out of no where I got a really clear message of what I wanted to do.  It was to get on my bike a take a long ride. I hadn’t been on my bike to really ride for over 2 years and I hadn’t even been thinking about it. I just slowed down, overrode the impulse to obsess about or distract through money, and arrived at a really authentic place for self directed action.

The bike ride, the act of actually doing it, shifted my mood. It turned my blues around and didn’t cost a thing. It reinforced how easy it is to use money as a distraction or scapegoat, and how money (be it a mess or all straightened out) cannot determine our happiness.

How often do you allow money to be the source of your (un)happiness?









Your past affects your cash

Money. Love it or hate it, at least admit it is a huge part of life.

Some of us are driven towards making more as a means to “freedom”. For some, money is an abstraction. Some of us have overspent, leading to debt. Money can be hoarded, avoided, and obsessed over. Money can be a source of security or a source for scarcity thinking. Money, and the way that it is managed, can determine much of our lifestyle, contributing to greater or lesser health.

This month I am focusing on the topic of finances in my blogs and other social media content. It can be a fascinating, triggering, energizing, infuriating, freeing, complicated aspect of the holistic model of health I use in my coaching practice.

What interests me, from a coaching perspective, is the relationship you have with money.

Instead of thinking “I go to work and pay my bills, what else do you want to know?”, consider this:

The ways we think, feel, and behave in regards to money come from something in our past.

Like other core beliefs, experiences with money shape our perceptions. 

For example:

It is no surprise that many conflicts within intimate relationships are around money. What do you suppose a child learns when they are exposed to parents fighting about the scarcity of resources?

Sometimes money is a non issue due to an abundance of resources within a family. What do you suppose a child learns about money if they are given everything they need and want financially and materially?

Think back on your own family of origin. How are the lessons you learned early in life about money impacting your life today?