That you have a relationship with everyone and everything in your life isn’t a huge revelation. But you might be surprised when you discover the ways in which your relationship in one domain (say with your family) affect your relationship in another (say with your money).
Because whilst you and I live one life. We’ve been conditioned to spend far too much time bifurcating our lives into different domains (personal, professional, civic and financial). So that instead of viewing these as slices of one pie, they are considered pies wholly unto themselves.
Unfortunately, this way of thinking masks the “why” behind your “why” of your behavior and choices.
And this is a problem.
Let me explain vis a vis a three-part exercise: Take a piece of paper and draw three circles. Label one circle “You;” another “Work” (or “Business”); and the third, “Money.”
Now take a minute to note, under each circle, the following: (a) what is your biggest challenge right now, (b) how is this challenge affecting your goals, and (c) how would you feel if you never solved this challenge…how will you feel if you do?
Next, draw the three circles again but this time as a Venn diagram (this is part two of the exercise). The area where the three circles overlap represents what I call your blind spots of how one domain affects the others. This is where similar patterns of behavior and choices emerge; it’s where you are able to identify similar “triggers;” it’s where you’ll notice similar feelings and reactions. It is also where you can look for answers to the question posed by the title of this post.
For example: Do you feel empowered to choose the jobs you go after or the clients with whom you work because of how you grew up — or in spite of how you grew up?
Here’s another: Let’s presume that you said your biggest financial challenge right now was not having enough money to meet your responsibilities and/or your goals? Where else in your life do you feel less than enough? What are the ways in which this feeling manifests?
Continuing with this example, let’s take a step back (this is part three): Were there times in your childhood that you felt this way (e.g., not enough)? What coping mechanisms did you cultivate as a result? How are you using them today as it relates to your biggest money challenge right now?
(And you wonder why I repeatedly say money is never just about money…)
Wherever You Are
I created the visual to the right to help promote the theme for this month’s Comfort Circle™ dinner – talking about money with your family. The shadows appealed to me because they serve to remind you (and me) of one of life’s many truths: you bring you into every situation.
Sure, you might tap into different skills as you make different decisions and choices in different areas of your life. Plus, different circumstances might amplify aspects of your personality that other situations don’t bring out. But, at the end of the day, everything that makes you you shows up wherever you are.
I get it. Tactically, to manage your time, energy, and resources (financial and otherwise), it is prudent to look at your life in separate “buckets.” Because these are not unlimited. So becoming skillful at how you allocate your capacity to meet your obligations and your goals is important.
But when you don’t recognize the ways in which your relationship in one domain (say with your family) affect your relationship in another (say with your money) – the good and the bad – you’re blinded to the spill-over effect.
So, you miss parallels, clues, and common mistakes (that simply look different on the surface) that reveal the overlap and “transference.”
Given that this is the time of year when I encourage you to use the holiday season to initiate substantive conversations about money, it’s the perfect time to also remind you of how crucial it is to be aware of these relational dynamics.
Because talking about money is really a conversation about how you relate to yourself, your family and to money. This is true for you AND everyone participating in the money conversation.
In other words, there’s a lot going on! Including unvoiced needs and expectations.
Enter The 4 Cs
The four Cs of which I speak are clarity, communication, conflicts, and compromise.
With every relationship comes a set of needs and expectations – from you and of you. Get clear about both sides of the equation.
Communication isn’t just about what you say, but also what you hold back. Do you tend to put everything on the table, or do you have the habit of walking on egg shells. Or, maybe you’re one way in certain situations and with certain people, and the exact opposite when the situations and people change.
Are there any unresolved conflicts that may “color” the conversation? What “internal” conflicts are you wrestling with that may make you defensive?
In addition to every relationship coming with a set of needs and expectations, getting those met usually requires a bit of give-and-take. Therefore, it is helpful to know what you’re open to and what you’re not.
When you talk about money, it is ALWAYS about so much more than that. That is why it is important to take the time to discover how your behavior and mindset with money is impacted by the dynamics of the other types of relationships you have (and vice versa).
Remember the Venn diagram from earlier? Well, this is how you turn the space where the three circles overlap from representing your blind spots to representing opportunities.
Because in the same way that paying attention to relational dynamics helps you avoid recreating “bad” choices, it helps you recreate “good” choices, too. Plus, it is how you unmask the “why” behind your “why” of your behavior and mindset.
So, a choice I’m hoping you’ll make is to talk with your family, extended family and friends about money during this holiday season. While you’re at it, I hope you’ll be more honest about your needs and expectations.
And given that you bring all of you to every situation, this is one way to bring the best version of yourself to those conversations. When you do, you give others permission to do the same. I happen to think that’s pretty cool…and necessary!