A new way of acting and a whole new life with money
Don’t you wish there was a documented scientific plan with well-tested protocols for solving your money problems? A plan that if you followed its prescribed steps, all your issues and all the angst would go away.
Finances would become easy, just a quiet engine humming in the background, peaceful and unobtrusive.
But there isn’t a documented scientific plan.
Dealing with money is not a one-size-fits-all proposition and what works for one person just doesn’t work for the next.
Because money isn’t concrete and scientific.
It has emotional and behavioral sides, and when things don’t go as you hoped, you judge yourself harshly. And with that judgment comes guilt.
Guilt for not knowing how to do things “right.”
Guilt for spending too much, spending too little, or something in between.
Guilt for obsessing over money or only thinking about it when it runs out.
Guilt is ready to rise to the occasion and brings shame as its co-star.
Not only are you guilty for making wrong decisions, shame says you’re bad, stupid, and untrustworthy; that in the hands of someone like you, the future is hopeless.
Trying to solve money problems with guilt and shame as its foundation is like building a house on shifting sands.
So, you follow a new program, one that will birth a new improved you.
You convince yourself that this time will be different, you’ll be better and smarter. You feel strong, able to tackle your problems, until that shifting foundation weakens and crumbles, and you fall back into old patterns.
Guilt and shame shout in your ear, “I told you so” and you respond, “I know, I’m hopeless.”
But what if there was another approach, one based in curiosity and appreciation for who you are today, not who you hope to be tomorrow?When I trained as a Gestalt Certified Coach, the Paradoxical Theory of Change offered a new truth, one with a new perspective. It goes like this, “the more you try to become what you’re not, the more you remain the same.”
Think about it.
If you’re like most, you can see the evidence with a history of diets that crash, exercise routines that stumble, or budgets that implode.
This theory invites you to consider change from a new vantage point, one where you acknowledge and accept who you are.
It asks you to work with yourself, not against, and to do it with curiosity and openness so you can learn and transform from what you do best.
This is how real change happens— and sticks.
Knowing this, a colleague and I (he, a psychotherapist and me, a CPA) joined forces and created a simple, no-wrong-answer quiz that identifies your strength when thinking about money.
It is based on four money styles, each a unique and positive approach to money, with no style better or worse than another, and each motivated by a different need.
The Practical Style: Someone who leads with this style wants financial security and stability.
You will sacrifice today to have enough in the future and will devote a lot of time and energy to make sure things are done right. Money is serious business.
The Logical Style: Those with a strong Logical Style make decisions only after gathering and analyzing all available information. You need complete and current data to fully understand and evaluate the alternatives, and like structure, organization, and a good plan.
The Ambitious Style: With a dominant Ambitious Style, you’re internally motivated and ready to move full speed ahead while looking for new opportunities to turn creative ideas into reality. You believe that striving hard with high expectations is where you’ll find success.
The Relaxed Style: With a vigorous Relaxed Style, you minimize financial stress whenever possible, and prefer to put energy into satisfying experiences and meaningful relationships. You enjoy and appreciate the nonmonetary side of life, and strive not to let finances worry you.
Most have one leading style, the modus operandi for dealing with money.
Remembering that all four styles are positive and necessary for a balanced financial life, your ultimate goal is to build a balanced approach using all four.
Working with knowledge of who you are to begin with, you can bypass the guilt and shame, and build a solid foundation for initiating and sustaining positive, long-lasting change.
These money styles give you a new language for describing money behaviors too. Instead of calling yourself (and others) a penny-pincher, you embrace your need for security. Instead of begging someone to “please let it go,” you accept their desire for information before making decisions.
You learn that money behavior can be about experiences and relationships, and stop labeling it as irresponsible.
From this appreciative stance, judgment, guilt, and shame are silenced and you stay curious and open to all viewpoints.
You discover neutral language making it easier to engage with family and friends.
Working from what you do best, you can forge a balanced approach, one that draws on the strengths of all styles. This is the opposite of short-lived, punishing, or guilt-ridden programs.
Working with money styles, you use your strengths to embark on a new financial life filled with optimism about who you are and what you can do.
With that as your foundation, long-lasting effective change is finally attainable.