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Tuesday Thoughts: money.

Money is a funny thing. It is widely debated whether money buys happiness. Many people have a volatile relationship with money. Some work so hard for money and financial success but lose track of other meaningful things in life. Others worry they will never have enough, no matter how hard they work. Then there are those that seem to have more than enough money and are not deserving. However, not everyone has these types of relationships with money and have figured out a good way to look at and manage a money relationship. Realizing this, I want to share my financial story and what I believe truly successful people do in order to find financial peace.

Being married to a financial planner, you would think I have a balanced relationship with money. But I have my ups and downs. Growing up my parents raised me to save and to budget, and being the achiever that I am, I was really good at following the rules I was taught. As a teenager, I saved money from the time I was 9 or 10 from doing chores or babysitting to buy my first car. In college I spent each summer earning just enough money, to get by each week of the school year to keep up with my friends. After college, it was very important to me to live independently, but my job would not support that lifestyle. Instead of living at home, I cashed out 21 years’ worth of savings bonds, to help supplement. That money lasted me years. I earned, budgeted and saved, just as I had done my whole life.

I continued to grow my income year after year, but at the age of 26 things changed. My income suddenly multiplied by 5 in only 6 months. Instead of continuing to budget I felt a sense of financial freedom. I wanted a break from penny pinching and was spending (never lavishly, but a lot more than I should have) without thinking twice. It was a great feeling to feel free from all that saving and budgeting. My husband and I were able to pay for a large portion of our wedding with no sweat off our back, and without asking our parents for more money as wedding expenses grew. We took amazing vacations after vacations, fancy dinners out and bought really nice gifts for ourselves and others. Then things changed again. Our income stood steady, but we added to our lifestyle, bought a house (a house full of problems that cost us a lot more money), and started a business, while not budgeting back and re-evaluating our lifestyle. And today for the first time in our lives we have debt, which forced me to start thinking a lot more about money.

I wanted to share my money story, so I could let go of it and re-focus the way I look at money, (so thank you for reading). Our debt had been bothering me recently when someone took note and reminded me I was only getting in my way of more money coming in. I need to let go of worrying how it is coming in or how it is going out to continue my pursuit of success. That does not mean I live in denial, or am faking it till I make it, but to have faith it will all work out, which I do. I also believe one has to spend money to make money and supporting our business ventures in a responsible way is deserved and necessary to grow.

There are several other lessons around my relationship with money I have learned, and continue to learn. Nothing was clear until I gave myself a true reality check. Instead of not looking at our finances and allowing my husband to handle it all, I took a clear look and accepted what existed. I now spend time a few times a week looking at what is coming in and what is going out, but not being attached to it emotionally. Just having the knowledge has allowed me the power to let go and have faith.

I also remind myself things will work out because they always have. I am not preparing for things to not work out because that is just me worrying and getting in my own way again. We always find a way to make things work, and this is no different, there is always more available from where that success had stemmed.

The most important lesson learned has been to continue to be generous. I have always practiced generosity, but at times when there is not extra cash floating around it has been harder to do so. I am no longer looking at generosity as something that should exist only in a surplus. Instead, I remind myself that most of this world lives on only a few dollars a day and I am pretty damn lucky to be in the situation I am. For that I am grateful and would rather show abundance and spread what we have, than dwell on what we may not. Not only do I believe it is better for the world, but it makes me feel better. Additionally, if I express an abundance (again not necessarily lavishly), I will attract an abundance. If I believe it and work towards it, by giving back what I can, more will come.

Coincidentally or not, as I had been thinking about my relationship with money, last week Marie Forleo, put out an episode of B-School discussing money matters. This episode lead me to her episode “6 Little Money Mindset Shifts That Pay Off Huge”, identifying many of my existing thoughts on money, along with several other highly impactful tips. Between believing and practicing my new “money mantras”, and letting go of my “money story”, I feel very confident and my financial worry subsides.

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Friday Reads: this week’s favorites

November is the start of the busy holiday season. This year I am trying to stay steady and not let the business of the season take over and get the best of me. My festivities this year start this weekend with our annual “Friendsgiving”  three-day celebration. Instead of worrying about what needs to get done, I am taking a little break to eat yummy food, drink lots of wine, dance a little and most importantly spend time with those outside of my family that are dear to my heart. I am always grateful for my friendships, but this weekend I’ll be sure to express my gratitude directly to them.

This essay by James Altucher reminds me to look at the positives of what may seem like a negative situation. (James Altucher)

Susie’s tips on happiness are so true. (Susie Moore)

I’ve got to keep this tip in mind: Mindfulness relieves stress, even with daily tasks. (Positive Prescription)

Doing the right thing is more important than things being fair. (Lolly Daskal)

Lessons From Audrey Hepburn. (The Positivity Blog)

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Thursday Thoughts: the key to change.

Change. We are always trying to find a way to change something. Whether it be our appearance, attitude or lifestyle. Quite often, and with much difficulty, we try to change others. This blog is even about creating change. Learning information that may inspire you to grow. A few days ago I had the equation to change reveal itself to me. That equation…

Modify Belief = Modify Behavior

It is that easy. You must believe you can change what you want. You must believe you will find a way. You must speak the words of your beliefs and take action in expressing your beliefs. Once you believe, you will feel, then you will behave. That behavior stemming from belief will rub off on others, but do not force it. Lead by example. It is that simple. Believe in yourself. Believe in Others. Most importantly, believe in something bigger too.

 

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Tuesday Thoughts: let it go.

As what many would call a bonafide control freak, I have a hard time letting things go. I tie myself to the good and the bad. Whether it be a vacation that has ended or an argument that needs to be put to bed, I have a hard time disconnecting myself from my experiences. It is exhausting for me and for those, I am closest to.

Over the years, I have relieved myself slightly from these antics, by practicing many different tactics. Recently the clearest message of all came about. I heard a speech about a particular successful person and what he has done to be successful. His key to success? He wakes up in the morning and goes to bed at night. He does not stress about things he needs to accomplish, what he did not do, or how he will get to the next step. Instead, he lets go and with great faith, lets what is meant to happen, happen. It is not to be considered this man just sat on his couch and waited for a miracle. He followed his heart and did what he felt to be right every single day. He believed he had a path already created and meant to follow, he was not able to control what did or did not happen. He lived by the grace of his creation and knew he had a purpose, and the purpose came about naturally providing him with great success.

I have stopped stressing about life (well mostly) and instead have given my control away. Doing my best every day, living with intention, having faith, and accepting where I am has alleviated a lot of the negativity weighing on my shoulders. I am the happiest I have ever been and every single day I am given signs I am on the right path. It is amazing and freeing.

Funny enough, I wrote this entire post on Sunday night, and Monday morning I had this article titled “20 Things You Gradually Learn As You Let Go Of The Uncontrollable”, appear in my inbox. Again, a sign I am on the right path.

So go ahead and let it go, give your control away and see that the journey leads you to incredible places.

 

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Friday Reads: this weeks favorites

Happy Friday! I started this week off with a bang, accomplishing so much on Monday. Followed by a mid-week work trip and a couple more days of getting tons done. Looking forward to the weekend with time spent reading and relaxing.

Multigenerational Family Influences, is an area I have been interested in for quite some time. Being mindful of this, has truly changed my behavior in my family system.  (Lorna Hecht-Zablow)

Forming Habits, Practicing Gratitude, Continuously Learning, Taking Risks, Acceptance & Vulnerability = Courage. (The Change Blog)

Made me think about my reactions when something goes wrong. (Ryan Holiday)

Many days I write down a list of affirmations for the day, often times one will be similar to “I will not allow distractions“. This article should help with that! (Fast Company)

Speaking of distractions, Marie Forleo’s Marie TV this week discussed how she says NO to distractions. (Marie Forleo)

 

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Review: “The Happiness Project”

I am a solid 4 ½ years late to the hype of Gretchen Rubin’sThe Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have more Fun”, but I finally read and finished the New York Times best seller. I mentioned before I was first introduced to Gretchen Rubin earlier this year when I heard her on “The School of Greatness”. I decided to dive into “The Happiness Project” as I spent this last year on my own happiness project, and was curious how I would relate. I will get into details of that later, but first the premise of Rubin’s story…

The Happiness Project” is a memoir meets self-help book, where Rubin sets out on a years’ worth of achievable resolutions to help her find a happier and more fulfilled life. Her key was setting expectations upfront, understanding setbacks, and taking one step at a time. This format helped her focus monthly on a new small resolution, leading to a big result (i.e. Quit Nagging = Working On Marriage, Remembering Birthdays = Cultivating Friendships). There were no crazy, or unrealistic characteristics she wanted to change about herself. Nor did she take any crazy, or unrealistic steps to achieve her resolutions. All Rubin was searching for was an overall way to feel happier, in her already pretty happy life. The resolutions she made and steps she took to meet them taught her mindfulness, which in turn lead her to a life filled with more happiness.

I found myself smiling a lot while reading this book. The reason for my smiles was because I could have written this book myself. Besides a few things like, living in a New York City brownstone and having children, my life now parallels that of Rubin’s during her happiness project. Less methodological than Rubin’s, my happiness project includes daily practices that have led me to be more mindful, equaling happier. Over the past year, I have introduced my gratitude journal, meditation, and more prayer into my daily life. I have put more focus on myself, expected less, appreciated more, listened, and paused before I spoke. I have been diligent to throw out clutter or things not in use, worn a more basic but quality wardrobe, and asked myself difficult questions. All of these small steps have reduced my anxiety, and given me a better understanding of myself. They have provided me with clarity to know what step to take next and confidence in my future. Added up, it has been a lot of work but feels simple, rewarding and fun. Paying off to make me happier.

Even in all the praise of “The Happiness Project” Rubin has had her critics. Many believe Rubin to be a whiny, ultra-privileged housewife. Sure she may live on famously swanky Park Blvd., with a disposable income and have a nanny and a housekeeper amongst other things. She has a lot to be grateful for and happy about and admits she was not the best at doing so (proving money does not buy happiness). She took it upon herself to change her perspective and become happier. I have taken the same small and practical steps to improve my happiness and it has worked in a time I have experienced more challenge than ever. Regardless of how much you have or do not it easy to get wrapped up in all that life throws at you, and easier to consider at the bad before the good. However applying a bit of effort, being more mindful and choosing to be better, does work and will lead to happiness.

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