It was just a few short weeks ago that we enjoyed the spirit of the holiday season, but now as many of us open our credit card statements the abundance of the holidays may seem more like a case of temporary seasonal insanity!!!
It’s so easy to overspend during the holidays. After all, we’ve all seen the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and he’s nobody’s hero. If you’re one of the many who feel like you’re caught in the vicious cycle of overspending and then regretting, perhaps you’re ready for a more enlightened approach to personal finance that will prevent this cycle from repeating itself next year. Perhaps you’re ready to embark on the journey toward personal financial leadership.
Stop Here!!! Don’t let your eyes glaze over!!! There is a part of you that wants to ignore this concept and any solution that will bring you freedom…that’s the part of you that is sabotaging your best efforts and keeping you stuck in the problem. Please ask this part of you to quietly take a back seat, at least for a few minutes while you read the rest of this article and embrace a solution. It’s my hope that in the next few paragraphs you will find the motivation to lead yourself out of debt for good.
To begin, let’s take a closer look at the concept of financial leadership. I define Financial Leadership as “the ability to use money Intentionally with meaning, purpose and direction to create the fulfilling lives we desire”. First and foremost, financial leadership requires that each of us create a compelling personal vision. This is a vision for a future that feels positive and attainable. Your vision points the way. It inspires you to overcome the challenges and reveal more of your true potential. I can’t emphasize enough how truly essential having vision is to making successful choices with money. Without a vision of where you want to go, how will you make important decisions about where to employ your resources?
Still, you may be wondering how having a personal vision can lead you out of debt for good. The answer lies both in your being aware of what motivates the choices you make around money and in understanding the nature of money itself. Money = Energy. It enables us to get work done. Think about money as a natural resource: think about it in the same way you think about fuel. When coaching people to use money intentionally, I like to use the car analogy: If you are a car, money is the fuel and your vision is the destination. We all have a finite amount of fuel in our tank. If we know where we are going, does it make sense for us to waste the fuel in our tank on side trips that are meaningless and take us off our path? Or, is it wise to use the fuel in our tank to support us on our journey toward our desired destination? It is the same way with money. If you don’t use it in a way that supports you in getting where you want to go, you just may never get there. Taking this analogy a little further, if you know your journey is going to be a long one, you will want to have a reserve of energy to draw on. This reserve is like your financial foundation. The bigger your vision the stronger your foundation needs to be.
Consumer debt can weaken our personal and financial foundation: it compromises our ability to reach for the stars. Often the ‘stuff’ we buy with it weighs us down on our journey instead of supporting us in getting there. It distracts us and robs us of the energy to attain our highest goals. We suffer from this energy drain more than we realize: it limits our desires and robs us of our confidence, in doing so it creates a vicious cycle, where we spend to feel better, but we end up feeling worse; we spend to appear stronger, but we end up feeling more vulnerable.
“A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.” ~ Brian Tracy
The key to breaking this cycle is to focus not on the debt and the fear, but on your vision and the energy you need to achieve it. Once your vision is clear enough, you will have an innate desire to structure your finances in such a way, as to support your journey in achieving your goals. You will care enough about your resources to create a plan for their use and stick with it. The financial choices we make are highly personal and demand a personal and holistic approach based on who we “be” and who we want to “be-come”. Financial Planning is about making you stronger, so that you can embrace your future with strength and confidence. This is the essence of Financial Leadership and it will forever change the way you use money.
You know you’re capable of more…clarify your vision and get a plan to get out of debt for good!
Aileen Miga is a Certified Financial PlannerTM , Author and Coach who helps individuals, families and organizations make a connection between their vision, values, personal fulfillment, and money. Together with Dr. Janice Hughes, Aileen is co-author of Inspired Wealth: Financial Leadership for the 21st Century www.inspiredwealth.com .