Do you fear financial struggle? Ever wonder why your business never quite grows past a certain annual revenue, or why you worry about money? Well, of course it could be that your business isn’t well-branded, perhaps your business model needs tweaking, or you might just need some help choosing the right marketing strategies. But frankly, it could very well be your money brain junk that’s holding you back.
What’s Money Brain Junk?
If you’ve read my book, Business In Blue Jeans, then you know that I came up with the term “brain junk” to refer to any mental clutter or emotional baggage that holds you back or keeps you from achieving your goals. Money brain junk is the subset of brain junk that is all about the way you feel about financial matters and money.
Where Does Money Brain Junk Come From?
Money brain junk comes from a variety of places. Some people have money brain junk from the way their parents dealt with money or from financial struggles they experienced growing up. Many business owners have money brain junk that started in the Great Recession. If your business was struggling to stay alive during the end of 2008 and early 2009, you probably have money brain junk. And a lot of Americans have money brain junk that comes from the way the media talks about finances and economic matters.
What a lot of people don’t know is that money brain junk is generational. So, for example, if your grandparents went through The Great Depression and were impacted by it, their reaction to the struggles of that time were likely passed down to you in some way or another. Money brain junk comes from many sources and can impact your life in a variety of ways.
Why Money Brain Junk Is Such An Enemy to Your Success
Money brain junk has a large number of consequences. First, it makes you anxious in general. If you have money brain junk, you’re likely in a constant state of fear and nervousness about the future. What if that next client never comes? What will you do if your business fails or you lose your job? What if you can’t pay the bills next month? These are all common threads that go through the minds of people with money brain junk.
Second, money brain junk makes you make bad decisions. If you’re constantly in a place of fear and anxiety about money and financial matters, you’ll make decisions about the direction of your business and your life trying to stave off that fear. You’ll take on clients that you shouldn’t take on. You’ll accept jobs that will make you miserable. And you’ll scrimp and save, often to the point of not investing in your own development—one of the most negative consequences of money brain junk.
How Do You Know If You Have Money Brain Junk?
First and foremost, most of us have money brain junk. So chances are, you have it. And even successful people whose businesses are thriving have money brain junk. How can you really know if you have money brain junk?
Symptoms of Money Brain Junk
There are a few symptoms of money brain junk. Here’s a checklist:
- Do you find yourself worrying about the future of your business and about possibly not having enough, despite being successful and having plenty of money in the bank?
- Do you find yourself worrying that the next client or customer will never come, even if you have business coming through the door regularly?
- Do you check your bank accounts daily or at least frequently?
- Does it make you feel safe when you look at your bank accounts and see that there’s money in them?
- Do you worry about retirement and wonder if you’ll have enough?
- Do you fear the financial future?
- Has your business (or job) hit a cap in terms of how much you earn, and you just can’t seem to earn more than that, no matter what you do?
- Are you constantly trying to save more and more, “just in case?”
- Do you live month-to-month, unable to earn more than you need to “get by?”
- Do you find yourself thinking about what you can and can’t afford?
- Did you grow up wealthy (or comfortable) and now have no idea how to “make it on your own?”
If you said yes to any of these questions, you probably have at least some money brain junk. If you said yes to a lot of these questions, you definitely have money brain junk. And it’s hurting you and your business.
How Can You Fix Your Money Brain Junk?
There are strategies that you can learn to manage your money brain junk, but it’s far better if you can repair it. However, repairing money brain junk can be difficult, because typically it stems from childhood or trauma. So you’re best off working with a strong coach who can really help you start healing the wounds caused by the way you were raised or the Great Recession. If you don’t want to heal your brain junk and just want to manage it more effectively, here are a few tips:
Gain perspective by helping others
When you help others, you gain a great deal of perspective. Specifically, I’m telling you to go out and volunteer your time and energy somewhere that you’ll come into contact with those who are less fortunate than you. When you connect with people who don’t have much to live on, it really puts things into perspective. When I volunteered for a children’s camp in my city, I realized how much I really do have—and it also made me value things differently, so that money became less important and I began to realize how wealthy I really am with all of my relationships.
*Ladies, I highly recommend joining the Junior League in your area, which is a wonderful organization that not only will get you to commit more time to volunteerism, but also provide you with significant leadership development education and opportunities, as well as connect you to other very cool and interesting women in your city. And in terms of money brain junk, you’ll find yourself immersed in all kinds of volunteer opportunities that will provide you with a great amount of perspective.
Live in gratitude
Every morning, be grateful for what you have. Know that, even if things aren’t awesome financially for you, things could be a lot worse. Be grateful that they’re not. Also, once you have some perspective (see above), you’ll naturally become more grateful for the true wealth in your relationships.
Every morning, when you wake up, practically before you move a single muscle, lie in bed and think of five things you’re grateful for. This exercise will help you to approach each day with a spirit of gratitude that will color the way you see everything.
Live frugally…but do it with style!
Most wealthy people don’t live lavish lifestyles, despite what you see in magazines and on TV. In 1998, a very smart guy named Thomas Stanley wrote a book called The Millionaire Next Door. This book covered a big study that Stanley conducted on American millionaires, and what he discovered is that most millionaires live well below their means in order to preserve their wealth. You, too, can live below your means…but that doesn’t mean your life has to be boring.
Cook delicious, healthy meals at home. Sit at the table with real napkins and eat by candlelight. Make a production out of meals you cook at home so they feel more special and meaningful. Avoid watching TV while you dine. Instead, talk to each other.
The goal, as a friend of mine said, is to love saving more than you love spending, and boy, oh, boy, do I love saving money! It was a big shift for me, but it is one that completely transformed my life.
If affirmations work for you, start using them
Affirmations aren’t effective for everyone. The problem comes in when you say the affirmation, but your mind goes, “Nope, that’s not true.” To be useful, you have to believe in the affirmations at least a little bit…or in the power of affirmations. If you can do that, then incorporate affirmations like what my mom used to say: “There’s more where that came from” and “More money is just around the corner” into your daily routine.
Change the way you think about money
Many people think about money as a finite resource, which, once it’s gone, it’s gone. But in fact, if you think about it, money is always coming in. It might not come in as quickly as you’d like, but it does come in. So when you think about money, you have to shift your thinking from “Eventually it’ll run out” to “There’s more on the way,” which will give you a healthier perspective.
You can’t always solve your money brain junk on your own. Sometimes you need a little help to get things going in the right direction, and that means working with a coach who can help guide you through the process of understanding where your money brain junk comes from and helping to work through the wounds that cause it in the first place.
Money brain junk is one of the more insidious problems in a complicated and somewhat unpredictable economy. Don’t let yours get the better of you!