by Robin Gurse
The first step in finding financial freedom is to realize that financial freedom has absolutely nothing to do with how much money you have or make…Financial freedom is something that goes on inside of you. –Chris Widener, Motivational Speaker and Author
Not by what we have, but what we enjoy, constitutes an abundance. –Anonymous, from Meditations for Parents Who Do Too Much, Jonathon and Wendy Lazear
A few years ago, I heard Marlo Thomas, TV star and children’s author, remark that she no longer used the phrase “I have to” when referring to her daily errands, chores, and commitments. What she says instead is “I get to,” as in: I get to go to the bank today; I get to do the laundry today; I get to balance my checkbook tonight.
I was so struck by her comments; I could actually feel the difference in my own body and thinking when I heard this distinction between just two little words. And since then, I’ve chosen to follow Marlo’s example. I “get to” use this phrase many times a day, as you can imagine. Since deciding to change my language, I’ve progressively freed myself from feeling like the Victim of my own life and my own choices. Even though I had had thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs in years past that made it oh so comfortable playing that Victim role, I was ready on that day, at that moment, to hear Marlo’s words and use them to my advantage.
Fast forward to the past six months. Suddenly, the financial world is out of control. Many of you (and me) feel equally out of control, and it’s damn uncomfortable. You hear words such as: Economic Downturn. Economic Crisis. Layoffs. Downsized (fired). Foreclosure. Bankruptcy. And many of you react with feelings of anger, outrage, fear, anxiety, panic, cynicism, resignation, or hopelessness.
Whether your family has seen, heard, and read about it, or has painfully, personally experienced it, we don’t have much control or impact over today’s economic situation. But where we will feel in control, where we do have an impact, is in how we speak about it.
Here are some suggestions for how you and your family will create or enhance economic freedom for yourselves, no matter what your current financial circumstances:
Begin using the words “opportunity,” “possibility,” “vision,” and “values.” I know this may sound airy-fairy to some of you. But what are some of the opportunities of re-evaluating your family’s finances? It’s when we have opportunities and options that we have freedom–not only economic, but in all areas of our lives.
Imagine the opportunities in taking the bus to work instead of your car. You gain more exercise by walking the 2-3 blocks to the bus stop (twice a day, no less). Additionally, you listen with more concentration to a favorite radio program on your Ipod. Or you feel good knowing that your action is consistent with your value of making the planet more habitable (one less car on the road).
Let’s say you and your spouse agree on this decision. Now is the time to ask: What’s possible? Maybe you or your spouse will feel less depressed or anxious, and the whole household will lighten up as a result. Maybe your insomnia will go away. Maybe the whole family will decide to take walks together or go bike riding together. Maybe you’ll institute a family ritual of choosing a favorite charity for the month and write them a check using the money you save by taking public transit. What’s the benefit of your making these new choices? It will bring you closer to your vision and values for family health, recreation, and community. When we take actions consistent with our vision and values, we’re living in integrity, and we just feel good. We know we’re closer to hitting the mark for who we want ourselves and our family to be.
Is this the time, finally, to evaluate your family and make some new choices?
*NOTE: I am not a financial adviser. These suggestions are based on my 20+ years’ experience in assisting people to take action consistent with their goals, visions, values, and dreams. RG