Experience Something: Inquiring Minds Discover the Unfamiliar in the Familiar

Perhaps you can relate: You experience something traumatic. It’s followed by a strong desire to change something you can control – to offset the change you couldn’t. If you’ve ever experienced this, then you’ll understand my deep desire for a little home makeover.

With the help of a dear friend, when I welcomed guests into my home to continue the Thanksgiving tradition of my mother’s and mine, my home had a new look – courtesy of a few additional pieces of furniture and accoutrements and some furniture rearranging. With small tweaks, my home was transformed. Toni helped me reconfigure (and re-envision) my space. In the process, she did for me concerning my home what I do for my clients concerning their finances: find the unfamiliar in the familiar.

And I was like a giddy child on Christmas Eve.

A perfect feeling given that the holiday season is now upon us and officially in high-gear.

For you and for me, the childlike wonder of the season doesn’t just have to be confined to this time of year. It can be a constant state of mind…a standard way of approaching decisions about your career, life and money.

However, that requires that you intentionally practice curiosity to:

  • Answer a pressing or recurring question
  • Resolve a conflict you’re experiencing
  • Address a nagging contradiction of expectations and/or beliefs
  • Ease your discomfort
  • Close the gap between what you do know and what you don’t know
  • Discover the gap between what you’re seeing and noticing

But, how often do you do that? Can you count the number of times lately when you preceded a decision or action with a statement that began with, “I wonder if…or I wonder what would…”

This sort of inquiry is why most of us use smartphones.

This sort of inquiry is why you can stream music, movies and TV shows in your home and on the go.

This sort of inquiry is why there are financial apps that can help you monitor your spending and manage your wealth in ways unforeseen just five years ago.

Curiosity alters your reality.

If I may be so bold, I’m going to venture to say you’re not being curious enough – you’re not engaging with life with childlike wonder.

It’s not that you don’t have an inquiring mind. After all, you were born with it. After all, it’s likely what is behind many of your accomplishments. But, I suspect, you’re not exercising the power of curiosity as often as you could.

The way I see it, here’s the underlying problem: for far too many adults, the obligations of adulthood can make what is innate (curiosity) become a dulled emotion. You’re constantly moving from task to task and decision to decision that you rarely pause long enough to take notice of what you’re seeing.

As a result, you become satisfied with surface questions, answers, outcomes and justifications.

As a result, you tend to value what you do know more than the surprises of what you don’t know.

As a result, your expectations and assumptions don’t evolve.

And this happens all because going deeper seems too involved – it requires too much time and effort.

Finding the New in the Same

I have been in my apartment for twenty-two years. So, I am quite familiar with my space. And, quite honestly, I was in a visual rut. Metaphorically, I was not applying the same talent, skills and intellectual vigor when it comes to my work as a financial behaviorist to my living environment. Yet, angling the couch in a different way; switching a painting from my bedroom to the living room; adding a few floor and table-top lamps; and taking more advantage of my 10′ ceilings, to name a few, makes the same look new.

“Curiosity is making the choice to look deeper into everyday things and seeing their true significance.”

The end of the year and the holiday season are perfect times to seek and discover the unfamiliar in the familiar.

It’ll help you engage with family, friends and colleagues differently – with more openness – during gatherings.

It’ll help you take stock of the year that is coming to a close with a little more compassion.

It’ll help you look at what’s happening with your money with fresh new eyes.

It’ll help you plan and prepare for a new year with a bit more energy and excitement.

If you knew there were questions (or themes) and small tweaks that could help you practice curiosity with more intention, would you be interested in learning about them? What if the same will also help you to make better decisions concerning your career, life and money? If yes (!), then join Heidi Johnson and me for the final Financial Intimacy Hour of 2014!

On Wednesday, 10 December at 8pm EST, we’re having a conversation about the role of curiosity and its impact on your career, choices and financial success. Click here to learn more and to register.

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