When I first picked up the joy study years ago, the first area I needed work on was my finances. I felt I had an impossible financial situation that put joy out of reach.
But in my first year of doing the study, something amazing happened . . .
I learned how joy can help fuel success and end self-sabotage. When I looked back, I realized that because I had no hope for my finances, I was self-sabotaging my success.
Once I added hope to the equation, I was able to pay off major debts with only one full-time income, making less than I was before.
Hope is everything when you’re pushing for financial success. But so often we encounter stressors that empty us of hope in our finances.
- An unexpected bill might rob our future plans.
- An emergency might push our dreams further out.
- And mismanaging our finances might deliver hefty consequences.
Whenever we remove hope from our financial situation, we engage in self-sabotaging behaviors.
- Because we don’t want to think about money, we keep spending it, putting nothing away for savings.
- Because we don’t want to communicate about our hopeless financial situation, we let it remain a point of tension in our marriages, never allowing us to be on the same page as our spouses.
- And because we don’t want to handle money, we end up giving it away or spending it the first chance we get.
If you want to be successful with your finances, you need to add hope to your situation.
Here are five strategies you could do to add hope to your finances:
1. Practice self-awareness over your financial habits.
The first step I did when I wanted to change my financial situation was to read a book called, Mind over Money. This book revealed how many of us have a disordered relationship with money, and how we can fix it.
Adding language to my relationship with money gave me an understanding over how I self-sabotage my finances. Turns out, many of the stories I learned about how to deal with finances came from past narratives that were indirectly handed down to me. Shining the light on those narratives helped me sift through what was right and what was wrong.
If you fall into the same hopeless patterns with finances, you might have a dysfunctional relationship with money. Seek a financial counselor, read books, or talk through your past narratives on money with someone to add this self-awareness to your financial habits.
Self-awareness over what’s wrong is always the first step in making it right.
2. Change your words and actions surrounding money.
The other day I found old letters I had written to my wife. They made me cringe once I read them.
In the letters, I kept repeating over and over again how I thought we were poor, and we were most likely going to remain poor. It wasn’t true of course. But in repeating those words, I was giving power to the idea that we were destined to be poor.
Your words and actions surrounding money affect your results.
If you keep repeating words that say “you are horrible with money” or “you’re never going to get out of debt,” then you create those results by taking hope out of your situation.
Through the joy study, I learned that beliefs are just repeated thoughts. If we want to change negative beliefs, we need to stop repeating those thoughts.
This is why it’s important to change how we talk about our finances. If you are trying to be hopeful about your finances, don’t squash your hope by repeating the idea that you’re poor.
Point your words and actions in the direction of hope. Only then will you see different results.
3. Make clear financial goals you can actually meet.
I’ve seen many people destroy their hope by setting goals they can’t achieve. Here’s what happens:
- They decide it’s time to change their financial situation.
- They set an impossible goal—something like paying off a five-figure debt next month.
- They don’t achieve the goal.
- They use this as evidence to prove they can never pay off their debt.
- They stop setting goals.
Setting a goal you can’t reach and not setting a goal are both forms of self-sabotage. They both can work against our hope.
To make forward progress with your finances, set goals that are realistic and exciting. Nothing will beat the feeling you’ll have once you reach those goals.
4. Celebrate the gains, not the losses.
What happens when we don’t reach our goals? How we interpret what happened can make a world of difference for us going forward.
When you don’t reach a financial goal, it might be easy to beat yourself up over the loss. But when you do this, you again work against hope.
The fact of the matter is, though you might have not reached your goal, you’re in a much better place than you were before. This is what you need to celebrate.
When you celebrate your gains, not your losses, you provide your brain with evidence for hope. This evidence will turn into success in the future.
Celebrating your gains is a concept popularized by coach, Dan Sullivan. Several studies point to the effectiveness of highlighting gains over losses. By living in the Gain (how far you progressed from where you were before), you actually fuel yourself with positivity, which will lead to success down the road.
5. Create a money-management system that rewards you.
A goal is great for setting the direction. But now, you need to change your behaviors to produce consistent results in the direction of your goals.
Author, James Clear, states that creating a system is the key to making progress. A system is a process of behavior that gives you the results you want over time. For instance, if you have a goal to sign 10 clients by the end of the month, your system will probably be emailing prospects every morning. It’s the tiny habits or process that leads to your achievement.
In terms of finances, you can create a system around how you budget or manage your money. But the key difference I learned from the joy study is, you need this system to reward you with positive feelings.
If you feel exhausted after budgeting, that’s going to reinforce you not wanting to set a budget.
But if you feel happy and proud after budgeting, you’re going to want to do it more.
One way to create a money-management system that rewards you is to set a budget in a place you love, like your favorite coffee shop. Alternatively, you could create a way for managing your money that’s fun for you, like setting aside a certain amount of money each time for a fun activity.
When people are hopeless about their financial situation, they’ll do everything they can to avoid thinking or interacting with their money.
This is why you need to create a simple money-management system that rewards you with positivity. It’ll help you stay present with your finances. And if you can stay present with your finances, you can make a difference.
Financial Success Requires Hope
I felt absolutely hopeless about our financial situation years ago. But now, after implementing the strategies above, I’m optimistic about our financial success.
Better yet, my financial wins are giving me the motivation to keep pushing for more success.
You can get to a place where you feel confident about your finances. It all starts with adding hope back into the equation.