Editor’s note: This is part one of two parts, with part one containing Lessons 1-2. Part two with lessons 3-5 will arrive next month.
As a financial planner, I think about money more than most people. I think about my personal life, the financial decisions I make every day, the lives of the clients I have managed over the past 20 years and those I still manage to this day. At 40 I learned a lot about money and little about life.
In case the title doesn’t make it clear, I turned 40 a few weeks ago. Forty is one of those fun ages when you stop for a moment to think about where you’ve been and where you want to go. In my career as a CFP® professional I am an educator, coach and consultant for my clients, so naturally I think of lessons to share with those around me in the hope that they can learn (at least) one thing that helps them improve their quality of life.
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Lesson #1 – It all starts with your mindset
Our money is not the problem; it is our way of thinking. When we make a decision, we think – emphasis on think – that we proceed logically and rationally. But it is often our subconscious that calls the shots. We are shaped by our attitudes, beliefs, values and experiences accumulated throughout our lives. This subconscious programming drives our emotions and is responsible for 90% or more of the decisions we make every day. (opens in new tab)
Money is often an incredibly emotional topic. If we delve deeper, we find that our subconscious has probably coded some unhealthy thoughts into the way we think about things, with money often at the top of that list. For this reason, the very thought of money can trigger an emotional response in most people. So it’s no surprise that it’s America’s number one source of stress and anxiety.
Most of what drives our financial decisions is ingrained in our subconscious by the age of 7 (opens in new tab). No wonder we feel shame, guilt, disappointment, embarrassment, and resentment (the list goes on and on). The psychology of money (opens in new tab), the study of how we think and feel and how they drive our actions and behaviors, has grown rapidly in recent years. To me, it’s the missing link between the decisions we want to make about money and the actions we actually take.
The good news is that if we are open to exploring the way we think about money, we can change this unconscious programming and take proactive steps to develop healthier financial beliefs, behaviors, and patterns.
If you want to master the role money plays in your life, start by mastering your mindset.
Lesson #2 – Define the game you want to play
What do I mean by the game? Put simply, your game is the life you want to live, both personally and professionally. It’s about who you want to become, what you want to achieve, what you want to contribute and what you want to experience. Your game is different from mine as it should be. Many people never define their game and as a result they play someone else’s and they never seem to understand why they are stuck. When you play someone else’s game, you rarely, if ever, win. Why? Because you’re the scapegoat.
Define the game she want to play, and then get to work to create your advantage.
For me, I decided that my professional advantage would be in financial planning. I dedicated the first 10 years of my career to being world class in my craft. After 10 years I had an edge and that edge allowed me to join a small team that started Facet (opens in new tab) in 2016 (which just ranked #46 on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s Fastest Growing Companies (opens in new tab)). It could one day help me build the kind of wealth that can bring financial freedom to my family. My game is financial planning. My advantage is my education, experience and expertise, which is second to none.
As a financial advisor, I talk to a lot of people about their money. The most successful people I know are not crypto millionaires. They didn’t follow Reddit and didn’t mess around with GameStop or AMC stock; They are not day traders or “experts” at trading options or currencies because they took a 2-hour online course. They are masters of their game and their craft. They have an advantage that they have built up over years (not days as social media platforms suggest). The evolution of your benefit is very similar to compound interest. The returns feel small at first, but with persistence and focus, your personal growth will begin to explode in the years to come.
Stop playing someone else’s game. Instead, define the game you want to play (the life you want, the values that guide your choices, what brings you true joy) and find your edge to make it happen. If you don’t, you’re playing someone else’s game, and by someone else’s rules.
Stay tuned for part two, including lessons 3-5, next month.
– Brent Weiss, CFP, CHFC (opens in new tab)Co-Founder, Facet Wealth (opens in new tab)
Facet Wealth, Inc. is an SEC-registered investment advisor with headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland. This is neither an offer to sell any securities nor a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities. This is not investment, financial, legal or tax advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance.
This article was written by and represents our contributing consultant, not the Kiplinger editorial board. You can view advisor filings with the SEC (opens in new tab) or with FINRA (opens in new tab).