If you’ve ever done my signature Financial Wheel exercise, you know I ask you to suspend reality as you answer a series of questions about what you want from money.

It’s the kind of exercise that is agnostic of where you are on the income and wealth spectrums because everyone has to contend with the four key financial domains it covers: save, invest, spend and earn.

For some people, filing in the proverbial blank space with actual numbers that reflect what they want money to do for them in each of these areas is exciting and fun.

For others, it is hard — like really, really hard!

With such a focus on their current circumstances and financial reality, many of them find it extremely difficult to lean into the invitation to wave the magic wand and answer the questions as they’d like to. You might read that last sentence and realize you’re in the same boat because you, too, had a hard time coming up with some of your answers. Or, you might wonder how can this be; how can smart, analytical people…folks who are curious and love to solve problems be unable to come up with numbers.

Yet, I see it ALL the time.

On one hand, I can empathize with this resistance. “How much do you want to save in 30-days?” can be just as difficult to answer as “When you’re 97, how much do you want to say you’ve saved over the course of your lifetime?” Because looking beyond your current circumstances to a future that is unknowable and complex is not easy.

So, I get the discomfort and resistance that comes with — a little bit.

During workshops, in particular, I will often hear questions and comments like, “Can I really write whatever I want?!” or “This doesn’t feel real…I’m just making up numbers.” Or, sometimes the reaction is more physical than verbal: a person will roll their eyes in frustration and exasperation.

What they don’t say necessarily, but I hear just as clearly is this: “I don’t want to go down this road of self-discovery…”

Remember, “The Matrix”

What is it about money that makes it hard to toggle between reality and possibility? Especially if the gap is filled with wisdom and insight about your behavior and choices; especially if it holds clues about changes you might want to make?

It’s not enough that money taps into almost every emotion across the emotional spectrum. But those emotions get amplified once you start thinking about the future. Because this is when you tend to bump up against the gremlins of control, permission and fear.

What some people overlook when it comes to the Financial Wheel exercise is that the financially-based questions aren’t just about money.

Rather, it’s a framework that uses money as a tool for self-awareness and self-communication, and for evaluating your choices and habits.

So, when resistance pops up as a result of completing the exercise it’s likely because it is…

  • tapping into what you feel you can and cannot control;
  • highlighting what you give and don’t give yourself permission to do and have;
  • unmasking your fears

Fundamentally, the Financial Wheel exercise is an invitation to perceive a simulated (or alternative) reality.

And that is precisely why I don’t let people off the hook by letting them cling to logic and reason. Nope, this is when I remind you that money is emotional and why the resistance you are experiencing is more than natural. Besides, the bridge I’m asking you to cross where money is concerned is no different than any other goal (or gap) in your life.

Plus, and not surprisingly, the inner tug-of-war that surfaces when completing this exercises is the same that emerges when you are negotiating. Something you do all day, every day — with yourself and others.

As you may know, April is “Financial Literacy Month.” You may also likely know how I feel about the word “literacy” in relation to money. You can read about it here. But in short, I hate it! -:) #sorrynotsorry

So, instead I want to turn this month into “negotiation awareness” month. Not because you don’t know how to do it; after all, you do it all the time. But so that you can get better at how you approach it; how you do it; and how you experience it.

Life is a series of negotiations

Let’s start with having you brainstorm what you have recently negotiated – whether with yourself or someone else? Maybe it was something as mundane as do you eat a piece of cake or stick with your sugar “fast”? Maybe you were trying to get your child to eat more vegetables? Or, maybe it was something more serious like should you ask for a raise or revisit that unresolved conversation with your mate?

How did you prepare? Did you rely on how you’ve handled the same matter in the past? Did you do some research? Did you seek advice or guidance?

Would you classify this as a simple or complex negotiation, and why? Is it because of what you negotiated; how you negotiated; the other party, or all three?

How did you feel? Did you feel like you had the upper-hand, or that the other party had more power? What fears came to the surface, if any? And if any, what self-talk was required to help you push through the fear?

What permission did you need to give yourself – from what you asked for to what you agreed to settle for?

What some people overlook when it comes to negotiating is that it’s not just about getting to “yes” or “no.”

It’s about discovering your interests and preferred outcomes and learning how to communicate them to yourself and then to others. Negotiating is first and foremost an internal exercise.

It is why I used the Financial Wheel exercise to help frame a conversation about negotiating, because the process of negotiating is also a tool for self-awareness and self-communication.

  • The best negotiator fills in the proverbial blank space and knows what they want to get; the wheel asks you what you want.
  • The best negotiator sees the entire process as a creative, problem-solving exercise; the wheel invites you to think creatively about how to use money to help close the gap between where you are and want to be.
  • The best negotiator navigates feelings and facts with aplomb; the wheel does the same.
  • The best negotiator knows that when resistance surfaces that that is actually an invitation to dig deeper into what you want and why; the Financial Wheel is ALL about your money whys!
  • The best negotiator recognizes that the first negotiation that has to take place is with yourself; the wheel reminds you that your money needs direction — from you.

Both are tools for self-discovery. Both are intended, if done “right,” to result in win-win outcomes. Both remind you that if you’re not careful and focus purely on your current reality (and not also on what could be), you can unwittingly block yourself from having, doing, and experiencing what you really want. And that’s no fun, so let’s not have that be your reality!


p.s. The theme for April’s dinner “Lean In/Lean Out: Discover the Best Negotiating Strategy & Tactics For You.” To join us at the table on April 30th at 6:30pm, click here to RSVP.

p.p.s. #grateful Since February, I have had a speaking engagement every week. I’m available for more speaking gigs beginning later this month, and I’m taking new coaching clients. To chat about speaking, click here. To chat about coaching, click here to book a free discovery call.

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