(NB: I don’t subscribe to the ‘you can do anything!’ school of thought. There are the realities of the bodies we live in and the societies in which we exist, that we have to work around. But I do believe most of us, if we want to, can achieve way bigger goals than we think we are capable of.)
Hustle culture would have you believe that you just need to grind to reach your biggest goals. NOPE. It starts with cultivating unshakeable belief in yourself. if you don’t believe in you, nobody else will either. Those vibes are contagious, like it or not.
You gotta get your head right. That is where it all begins. When you are laser focused on a goal and your motivation is rock solid, things have a way of unfolding from there. Especially when it comes to financial goals. Money needs a purpose.
1. Decide what the hell you want to do
Clarify what it is you want and are going to work towards. The thing that’s burning you up. You’re about to start writing a brand new story for yourself.
No, not a SMART goal.
You don’t need to know the HOW yet.
You just need to know the outcome you’re after, so you can imagine it in as much sharp and colourful detail as possible.
You need to see it in your mind. You’ve got to be able to envision it before you have it.
And then, go out and find evidence that it’s possible. You can’t be what you can’t see. All those people you’re secretly jealous of? Who have what you want and you feel wicked envy for? That’s evidence to bank right now and use as aspirational fuel.
Lastly: write it down. I know – so corny. Just do it. There’s power in naming things and power in the written word. (I’m always amazed at what happens when I sit down and let things out on paper/screen.)
Then keep doing it – reaffirming it every chance you get. I write out my main goal every day in my gratitude/journaling app and now I feel a sense of calm descend upon me every time I do. I also try to write out my secondary goals most days.
I surround myself with reminders of my goal. I use my passwords. I have a vision board. These things help keep my goal front and centre, keep my mind focused and bring my attention back to it throughout the day. And I try to actively concentrate on thinking about it whenever I become aware of my thoughts throughout the day – I switch into a thought that’s going to help me get where I want to go. (Tip: keep it tight and focused on the positive, desired outcome. i.e what you want, not what you don’t want.) What we focus on magnifies since our brains work much like the FB algorithm – feed it accordingly.
2. Feel and embody it right now
This is about conviction. Committing to being the type of person who does that thing. If you achieved the result you want – who would you be? What would your next-level self be like? What would they think, say, do?
When in doubt, tap into your bad bitch alter ego for guidance.
You can’t be what you can’t feel. So, do what you can to get into the vibe of that feeling and anchor it in now. In a responsible way, naturally.
Maybe you can’t take a yearlong sabbatical. But you can probably book a babysitter and take the night off. Or arrange a weekend away. A stretch of time devoted entirely to YOU goes a long way when you’ve been ignoring your needs for so long.
For me, and my financial goals, this has been two-fold. Giving more generously, like my richer self would. And indulging myself more, which is not something that comes naturally to me.
Every day, I also consciously work on this at a micro level – simply choosing to feel good whenever I can. Putting on my favourite songs. Actively appreciating the things around me.
When I was in a real slump, I kept returning to a particular memory in my mind – lounging on the couch at my friend’s new house in the sun, snuggling with another friend, as we all relaxed and caught up with each other. At the time, I felt so warm and deliciously drunk with simple pleasure… I knew I had to file it away for reference. And sure enough, I came back to it multiple times a day, many, many times after that. Letting the pure joy I felt in that moment sink in and transport me away from difficult moments in the present, and giving myself a reset.
Sometimes, there’s deep stuff that needs healing along the way. (Coming soon – thoughts on the mind-body connection!) Welcome all feelings and emotions, because stifling them doesn’t work in the long run. Only acceptance, and eventually healing release, does.
Feeling good when the world feels like it’s falling apart could look like making a donation to a cause or signing a petition. Follow your gut and heart.
Not convinced about the power of feeling it? Consider this. If you’ve ever been through a traumatic experience, you know what it’s like to get triggered. The body keeps score. It remembers and it relives it. Those same feelings arise and you react accordingly.
Imagine that same power of feeling, applied with a positive lens. It’s stronger than you can imagine.
3. Stick with your strategy
All that prework you’ve put in during steps 1 and 2? Channel the hell out of it in this phase.
This is the execution phase. You can’t have if you don’t do. Commit to seeing this story out.
For me, that has ranged from researching the things I want (how much they cost, where to get them, etc – to get the ball rolling and make more of a commitment to myself) to setting up a practice simulated stock portfolio to actively doing potentially money-generating activities.
Keep taking the next best step. Let go of exactly how and when the outcomes happen. Focus on the process. Track and celebrate the actions you take – the part in your control – not necessarily the results.
Celebrate all along the way, even the stumbles. Every action you take is getting you closer. You are never failing, always learning. And track all those wins! They go into your bank of evidence and will help keep you flying high when you start to falter.
Stay in the story. You’ve got to do a bit of a weird pivot here. Basically, it’s time to reverse psych yourself – and the universe.
Maintain your focus, but at the same time, figure out how to detach. How not to be invested in the outcome. I know, it’s hard to be committed yet not attached – literally everyone struggles to keep faith and trust it’s working even when they can’t see anything happening yet. Just don’t make that mean anything. We’re always telling ourselves stories. But we never know what’s just around the corner. What if you gave up one step away from the metaphorical top of the mountain because it was shrouded in cloud?
When doubts kick in, interrogate those beliefs. Is that really true? How do I know that? What evidence is there to prove it? What if the opposite was true? When resistance rears its head, dig deep to get to the bottom of what’s driving it. What’s the core belief underneath the block – what does it say about YOU? Get to that wound to tackle, heal,shift the root belief about yourself.
Trust the process. Have faith that it’s working. That things are on their way; you just can’t see around the bend yet. You have to keep going around the corner to open up your frame of view. Even a few degrees makes a big difference in perspective and to the size of your horizon.
They say that a watched pot never boils. Without fail, things have ALWAYS happened for me when I least expected them (often, when I’d given up entirely on them). And not always in the way I expected, either.
So forget about timelines. Throw them out. Remember that we tend to overestimate what we can do in the short term and underestimate what we’re capable of over the long run.
Why this works
You can probably see that this all leads up to action, laying the groundwork for it. I think that manifesting brings opportunities your way. It’s then up to you to recognise and jump on them. Spot and seize them.
You can probably also see that in the process we’re essentially … evolving. Becoming a different version of ourselves. Stepping into a new mould. Updating our identity and how we see ourselves. When you see yourself as someone who has/does/is X, it’s way easier to take action in accordance. And all this applies in the same way,
First you start to see yourself differently. Maybe you need to borrow that belief from others. Harness the great external validation you’ve racked up over the years. Hold on to that (and let the rest go). I never saw myself as capable, incredible, a leader, until others told me so. They saw it first. Only then could I get on board with the idea.
Then you start to feel different. To be that person now. To think in that vein.
Then you start to do things differently – act in accordance with how you perceive yourself and how you feel.
You can show up feeling like a rockstar or with trepidation, tiptoeing and second-guessing yourself. People will react accordingly. It changes how it all feels.
How many times have you started off a day on the wrong foot? Everything bad that could possibly happen, happens. The shit keeps piling up. Cue the spiral. A self fulfilling prophecy.
And have you ever had the opposite experience? Started off on a high and had that winning streak continue, everything coming up gold?
What if you tried flipping it round, beginning from the perspective that it’s all working out, visualising it? (What is there to lose?)
Here are a few examples of the difference that doing the groundwork makes.
I had a huge mental block around $60k. I really wanted to crack this figure when I left journalism. But when it came to writing down my desired salary on the application, I chickened out. I couldn’t put it down in black and white. The block was so strong. I just didn’t believe my skills were worth that much. I psyched myself out and wrote down $58k instead. I cut myself off at the knees! (This has a happy ending. They actually offered me $65k which I obviously jumped at and would never have dared to dream of asking for.)
My next mental block was around $80k. Again, a figure I really wanted to crack. This time I’d done the work. Talked to people who were earning this much in comparable roles. Perused salary surveys, staring at the numbers on screen, burning them into my brain. Searched in this pay bracket on online job boards specifically. I had the proof it was possible, and possible for me. And when I was offered a role at $78k, I was able to ask them to round up to $80k without missing a beat. It was a small ask, and an easy yes.
After that, $100k was the next stumbling block. A figure I never thought would be possible in my entire life. I remember telling my high school girlfriends I’d never make six figures. It just wasn’t realistic in my old industry. (They were all shocked – but they are all in high paying fields, mostly healthcare/medical – and I think their impression of media was TV anchors, the 1%.) Again, I did all the work that I’d done to shore myself up to get to $80k. It mostly worked. In an interview, I said I was looking for $100k without hesitating – though I didn’t get the gig. But when I got the call offering me another role I’d been interviewing for, I choked. I hadn’t been expecting it. I answered the phone, frazzled from wrangling my infant at home. It was great news but I was not in a mental place to negotiate! I rambled for far too long and asked for $98k.
When caught off guard – it’s so easy to slip back into old patterns. This is an ongoing practice. We’re never done.
None of us have complete control. In fact I’d argue that logically most things in life are beyond our control. But we do all have SOME degree of autonomy (the degree varies, of course) and especially when it comes to what we think and do.
It’s true: thoughts become things. Everything that ever was began with a thought. We do a thing first in our mind before repeating it for real out in the physical world.
Embody a deliberate, focused mindset and pair it with deliberate, focused actions. Amazing things can happen from there. Start with mindset and the actions naturally flow. You don’t have to try so hard. New ideas bloom. Next steps unfold. New opportunities reveal themselves.
That’s been my experience – first accidentally, then deliberately.