“Man is nothing other than his own project.” Jean-Paul Sartre

This adulting thing – it is not easy.

If for no other reason than the fact that so much of doing it well requires that you and I have to learn “on the job.” As an example: Developing your approach to life.

You have a particular way of living your life. Everyone does.

For Dustin Moskovitz (co-founder of Asana), it’s practicing mindfulness. “By stopping regularly to look inward and become aware of my mental state, I stay connected to the source of my actions and thoughts…”*

For Katia Beauchamp (co-founder of Birchbox), it’s the belief “that there are many paths to success; there is no one path. There is strategy, execution and iteration.”*

For Logan Green (co-founder of Lyft), it’s the commitment to taking on “giant problems that matter to people and move the world forward in a meaningful way rather than in short-term fads.”*

For you, it’s (fill in the blank).

Even if you can’t describe it as succinctly as the above examples, whatever your approach to life, it represents your philosophy of life. It’s your filter for the decisions and choices you make, and the actions you take.

Your approach to life helps you keep things like your values and beliefs in perspective when disappointment and misfortune knock on your door.

And because your philosophy of life is a concatenation of many elements (including your goals, vision, attitudes, purpose, principles and motivation), and influenced by the events you experience, it is easy to see how a choice that is right for someone else – whether that is a family member, a friend, a work colleague, a total stranger – may not necessarily be so for you.

The sneaky thing about asking the question in the title of this post is that it’s really an invitation to pause and consider this: What about your approach to money do you need to change?

You have a particular way of managing your money. Everyone does.

And how you approach life is likely how you approach your money.

So when the condition of your finances and the financial results you are experiencing aren’t what you want, you may want to view that as life’s way of trying to get you to pay attention to something. Usually, that “something” is beneath the surface.

In other words, the answer to getting your financial sh*t together isn’t going to be as simple (or obvious) as cutting back on the number of times you go to Starbucks. (That may be part of the answer, but it rarely IS the answer exclusively or entirely.)

Why? Because changing what you do without first changing why you do it only addresses the symptoms, not the root cause. Also, there’s the matter of the rules of money, which never change: 1+1 will always equal 2; spending less than you earn will always be the wiser choice to make; having your money work for you will always be the prudent way to go.

Changing From This to That

We are rounding third-base running fast to home plate – aka December 31st. So, the question of “what do you need to change when it comes to money?” isn’t rhetorical. To finish the year financially strong(er), what adjustments might you need to consider?

Here are a few ideas for you to contemplate:

From fear to a plan

When you reflect back on the year thus far, how many of your decisions were made from a place of fear and worry about what could go wrong because of what has gone wrong in the past?

Actions based on a plan is the best way to quiet down the fear gremlins.

So, if you’re one of those people that keeps everything in your head, this is the perfect time to change to making financial decisions from a written plan. And that means having written goals!

From doing it alone to working with a financial professional & partner

Everyone has the ability to manage money on their own. You can Google an answer to almost any and every financial question you have. And now there are even apps to help with tracking, saving and investing.

But personalizing the information you find online is another story. As is turning that information into valuable insight. That is where partnering with a financial professional can prove to be a smart next move.

Change the story you tell others…and yourself

Almost everyone operates with subconscious beliefs about money. Perhaps you believe there’s never enough money. Or, that it is difficult to make money. Or, maybe you feel guilty about a financial mistake.

In order to have a more positive experience with money, you’ll need to make peace with the events and people (including yourself) that have influenced your beliefs in a negative way. You’ll also need to change how you describe money’s impact on your life, and spend more time focusing on your strengths and the good experiences you’ve had with money. Though not in some pollyannaish sort of way; but by taking deliberate actions that accompany your words. Because there’s no denying the power of your words, especially where money is concerned.

I emphasize over and over that money is never just about the numbers.

Psychology, emotions, and habits play a crucial role in how you think about money. They influence the degree to which you feel confident and in control. They determine whether you mostly “deal” with money when it’s a headache because something has gone wrong.

Sure, going beyond the numbers requires doing “deeper” work. But in the long run it is what reduces and mitigates any stress or anxiety you may have about the money moves you’re currently making or need to be prepared to make.

And guess what? Turns out that going deeper may be just what you need to do to finish the year strong.

p.s. Finishing the year (financially) stronger is the theme for this month’s Comfort Circle™ dinner on October 23rd. Currently, there are seven (7) seats available at the table. Is one of them yours? To RSVP, click here.

p.p.s. *From “6 Personal Philosophies That Shaped Successful Entrepreneurs” – FastCompany, January 15, 2014

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