What Keeps us Trapped
Episode #2 of the course Financial wellbeing: How to worry less about money by Maureen McGuinness
One of the barriers to financial wellbeing is feeling trapped by our circumstances. You have chosen to take this course which suggests that there’s something about your current lifestyle that’s not working. We can often feel as though we don’t have control over our circumstances and that things happen to us that keep us from a sense of financial wellbeing. Becoming aware of factors that keep us trapped is the first step in taking responsibility. Continuing to use them as an excuse for why we aren’t doing something to change is unhelpful.
Barrier 1: Busy
With hundreds of options for how we can spend our time, we’ve developed a love/hate relationship with “busy.” We love to talk about how busy we are, and use busy as a reason for why we can’t change. What if we tried saying “no” to doing and having everything?
The downside of having a packed schedule is you’re more likely to go for products and services of convenience to address your basic needs, including hunger (takeout, frozen meals) and sleep (caffeine to manage fatigue). Every now and again these services can feel helpful, but when they become habitual, it’s hard to ignore the negative impact on your finances, health, and wellbeing.
By opting for convenience, you’re paying a slight premium, and consuming excess salt and sugar that lead to weight gain and lower energy levels. This is just one effect of having no pockets of time. You may also find yourself getting less sleep than you need, which may be why you find yourself purchasing coffee every morning.
Solution: Scrutinize your schedule. If you feel as though you don’t have time to actively manage your money, look at the last 24 hours. What are the activities you prioritized? What are the services or products you’ve spent the most amount of money on that compensate for your lack of time?
Beware the barrenness of a busy life. – Socrates
Barrier 2: Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
We may maintain a busy schedule, because we don’t like to miss out. If I don’t attend a particular event, I may miss out on valuable networking, which provides new opportunities. At the same time, I’m exhausted, and I want to have a quiet night in. It’s impossible to be everywhere all the time. Saying yes to more and keeping our diary packed doesn’t mean we’re not missing out. We will always miss out on 99.9% of what’s going on.
Similarly, social media has increased our FOMO. While social media can be a useful tool for keeping in touch with friends and family, it only increases our sense of missing out. We see our friends with a new car, and suddenly the car we have is no longer enough.
Solution: Let Go. The sooner we accept that we will always be missing out, the sooner we can feel empowered about saying yes to what’s right for us. By saying no to what we feel we’re supposed to be doing or what we’re supposed to buy, we can say yes to the stuff that’s important to us.
Barrier 3: Unclear Priorities
Being busy and having a fear of missing out suggests unclear priorities. “Priorities” as a word is incorrect. When the word was first used in the 1400s, it was only used in singular form–priority–the fact or condition of being regarded or treated as more important than others.
Admittedly, I’m guilty of referring to my priorities, but these are limited to three priorities on any given day. Sleep. Nutritious food. Exercise. My daily ingredients for a sense of wellbeing have nothing to do with money. I still need to earn money to cover my basic living costs and a few extras, but I know that my fundamentals are practically free–I just need to make time for each. I plan my week carefully so that I can fulfill each of these priorities daily while keeping flexible pockets of time.
Solution: Say No. I was only able to focus on my three priorities when I started saying no to the superfluous activities: window shopping, daily drinks with colleagues, mindless surfing on the internet.
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