As Thanksgiving fast approaches, our minds naturally turn to giving thanks and gratitude. When it comes to financial matters though, most of us don’t often pause to thank our lucky stars. Money is stressful and what we do with it is much more likely to inspire feelings of anxiety and avoidance than thankful calm.
But what if we could change that? What if we turn our gratitude to our present moment and simply acknowledge that our finances play an inextricable role in the way we will experience our future moments? Then from that perspective, doesn’t it make sense to be grateful for the ability to be in your present moment, to be reading this, to have the tools and resources at your disposal to play an active role in your financial future? The first step toward the future you want is diving deep into your current (financial) moment, understanding it, and taking active, intentional steps.
So, how do you keep gratitude top of mind and reframe the link between your financial health and your life at large?
Here are a few small things you can do to get started:
1. Start a gratitude practice
Every day, write down 3-5 things for which you feel grateful. These might be inspired by your family, your work, or the world around you. We all have a great deal to be thankful for but when life gets going, they’re easy to forget. Gratitude practices help keep these blessings top of mind and encourage you to be present in and grateful for the moment. The committed cadence of expressing thanks also reframes your brain to appreciate the great things in your life in a different way. Rather than feeling the guilt or avoidance that comes when forced to face financial issues, your mind will shift and frame your financial health as part of your life and the many great things in it.
To your gratitude list, also add 1-3 intentions or things you’re willing to commit to doing and accomplishing each week. One might be reading one article about a money matter that is relevant to you, while another might be to make (not buy) your lunch every day. Committing to your gratitude practice and intentions let you hold yourself accountable weekly.
2. Talk about money more
Think about your finances as life fuel. What story has your financial life experience told so far? How did you end up thinking or believing what you do about money? What do you know about? What don’t you know about? Write your questions down and commit yourself to finding the answers to one question each week. Perhaps answering these questions becomes part of your weekly intention practice.
3. Set big goals
We all throw out lofty life goals, expecting that one day they’ll magically come to life without any work or planning. Since that’s not a reality, the more practical we get, the better. It’s important to dream big but, it’s also vital to plan ahead. Try setting your goals in year-long increments. What do you want to accomplish by this time next year? Focus on how you are going to get there. Do you need help from someone else? When is that planning going to take place? How will you hold yourself accountable? How are you going to know if you’re on track or off track? Consider these questions when setting your big goals.
All of the above tips weave together to power financial progress and, subsequently, your life. Say for example you set a big goal to have a few months of living expenses in an emergency fund by next year. Here’s an example of a rough plan to make that goal a reality:
Start Your Gratitude Practice
Find a way to stick with it daily. Get a cool journal or set a daily calendar reminder. See if your life mindset changes as the weeks and months pass.
Set Your Big Goal
Set a few if you like but be sure to include goals you believe you can commit to and that are attainable and tangible. Consider the path to accomplishing your big goal. Ask questions you need answered prior to starting out.
Start your Intention Practice
Your weekly intention becomes learning about emergency funds: best practices, how much to contribute, where to open an account, etc.
Take your learnings and apply them to make a plan to reach your goal. Break the pieces into intentions so you can commit to doing them each week. Let’s say your plan is ultimately to contribute $50 per week to your emergency account. How are you going to do that? Where are you going to find that $50? Plans can change but it’s important to have a place from which to start.
Now you’re ready to bring your plan to life. You’ve done the work, you’ve made both your gratitude and intention practices part of your daily / weekly routine. By this point, hopefully, your mindshift has started to change. You’re more comfortable talking about and addressing your financial health, you know what you plan to do — now it’s time to do it.
We all have a lot to be grateful for. Use this holiday season as a way to mark a mindset change. Express gratitude the whole year through, be intentional with your actions, set goals and pave pathways to reach them. Happy Holidays!