Summer is upon us and we watch mother nature flourish before our eyes. I love getting outside each day, feeling the warmth of sunshine, and admire the beauty that surrounds us here in the Roaring Fork Valley. I truly believe it is in our nature to want to thrive and prosper in all areas of life.
Dr. Seligman, a psychologist, educator, and author with a focus on positive psychology has written a book – ‘Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being’ . While Dr. Seligman focuses exercises in the book to overall life wellness, you can apply his concepts specifically to your financial life.
*Identify your signature strengths.
Write about a time that you have had a financial success. Was it a job position that you excelled in, an investment that worked out well for you, a conversation around a monetary matter that was productive, or when you spent money on something that brought you deep joy (unlike momentary happiness). Once identified and journaled, revisit it every day for a week and each time ask “what personal characteristics did I display when I was at my best?” Was I resourceful? Did I do my homework? Was I discerning? Was I a good listener? Was I intentional, or brave? Write down your responses.
Dr. Seligman shares that this exercise “puts you in touch with what you’re good at”. The next step is to contemplate how to build on those strengths in another area of your financial life. For example, “I saved up money to make that purchase. I was disciplined and intentional and did not go into debt. I am going to start saving for a longer term goal with vision, discipline, and intention”.
*Find the Good.
Set aside 10 minutes each evening to write down three things that went financially well that day. Next to the event, note “why did this go well for me”. Examples include: “I used my talents, skills, and efforts to earn money today”. Why – because I am competent and capable and know I have a positive impact on people. Or, “I gave to a cause that is important to me”. Why – because it is important that I recognize I am a part of something bigger than myself. How about – “I put money into my 401K this paycheck”. Why – because I want to have options down the road. Possibly “I had a productive financial conversation with my spouse”. Why – because it is important to me to talk about money positively. So many times, we focus on what is going wrong in our financial lives, which creates a downward spiral. According to Dr. Seligman, this exercise “turns your attention to the good things in life, so it changes what you attend to”.
*Make a Gratitude Visit
Has someone encouraged you, challenged you, or supported you in your financial life? Write a note or letter describing what they did and how it affected your life. If possible, arrange a meeting to read the note to them. This is a powerful experience for both parties as it connects you to gratefulness, and keeps the mindset of “entitlement” at bay. Most of us have reached the places we have because of the impact of other’s in our life. I had a friend that gave me a crisp $100 bill when I was a broke college student. He said “keep this in your wallet and don’t spend it”. You will “feel” different, just knowing you have money. I did feel different! I told him years later that he really encouraged me to get through a tough time. It was pretty special for both of us. Even if you can’t pay a gratitude visit, simply recognizing that others have had a positive financial impact on your life and that we too, can do it for someone else empowers you to look at your money differently. Who has had an impact on you?
Like a flower pushing its way through some hard packed soil, doing these exercises is not easy. I encourage you to press through the mindsets, or the perceived time constraints that this work takes. I see you blooming in new ways, to be enjoyed by yourself and others who are affected by your financial decisions!