Cliche but true, you are what you eat, your thoughts dictate your reality and your daily habits define you.
The human body is a sophisticated bit of machinery in its ability to convert food into energy, fat and or waste so you don't become a banana after eating a banana. But as all of us know too well, the image staring back at us in the mirror is a frank reflection of consumption and exercise habits entrenched over time.
Money isn't that much different.
Whether you're skinny, fat or somewhere in between, your PBMI (personal bank mass index) can't be blamed on bad genes only your accumulated patterns of behaviour.
The mistake so many people make when it comes to money is thinking that it is something foreign and separate from who they are and what they do.
"I'm bad with money." "I don't get money." "I don't know where I go wrong." I've heard all the excuses and what unites them tends to be a deflection of personal responsibility.
Money is closer than you think. It is an extension of you; all of you. Your thoughts, your behaviours and daily habits.
It's a scary realisation for some because they're forced to accept that they are personally responsible for their actions. Yes there are some occasions in life when you lose your wallet, you're robbed or make a bad investment decision because you didn't have all the information at your fingertips. But even then, we usually have some part to play in what led us there in the first place.
A more constructive approach to the realisation that you and only you are responsible for your financial health, is that you have the opportunity to do things differently and to effect better outcomes.
It starts with reflection. An examination of where you are now in time, and how you got to be there, and what resources you have to make improvements or changes.
No matter where you find yourself, there is always space and opportunity for improvement. Progress is seldom lightening speed. It starts with motivating goals and aspirations that are executed with slow, progressive, measured steps. No radical crash course diets, rather a gentle introduction of the financial equivalent of fruits and veggies. They may include things like:
Traps to avoid inlcude:
All that you are, everything that you do, will either work for or against it, depending on your perception AND execution.
In the Hindu religion, there are approximately 33 million Gods. They come in many forms including flowers, insects, animals and larger than life characters with the power to destroy and create.
I can't say I'm familiar with even a fraction of them but one which has a prominent place on my wall, and in my life is Ganesh; the great remover of obstacles.
In the Hindu pantheon, Ganesha is the elephant-headed son of Shiva, one of the three most important deities along with his consort, the goddess Parvati. Known as the remover of obstacles, Ganesh is considered a bestower of good fortune, prosperity, and health. If you've been to Bali or India, you'll be familiar with Ganesh.
You can read more about this enchanting god and his story at chopra.com here.
In the context of achieving our goals, Ganesh has much to teach us.
While we may wish for this great God to emerge from the heavens and erase all the things we believe to stand in the way of what we desire, Ganesh is only as powerful as you'll allow. Why?
Because obtaining those things requires an act of mortal intervention as much as as Act of God.
At a very human level, it is the doors of perception that stand in the way of us achieving our goals. The key to unlocking those doors is gaining insight into our deeply engrained or else habitual patterns of thought that prevent possibility and importantly action.
If invoking Ganesh through recitation of his mantra, is the antidote to unhelpful thoughts and patterns, great. Faith will go a long way in this regard. But for the more skeptical, over thinkers among us, having a conscious understanding, awareness and acceptance of those mental traps, is what will ultimately free us and subsequently unlock some of those doors.
Yes in some cases there are literally external obstacles that lie in our path; finances, opportunity, competition, distance, however they tend to be logistics.
The greater barriers to success tend to be the mental ones including fear, denial, self-sabotating thoughts, unconscious patterns of thinking and behaviours that are simply conducive to achieving your goals. Effectively, this mental psycho-drama just clouds your vision. Like a dirty window, our mind needs clearing.
Exercise, yoga, meditation, nature, honest conversations with friends and mentors, are all good solvents in this regard. They help to clear the clutter and shine a light on our blind spots.
Ganesh is a bit like window cleaner I suppose; he's an agent of removal.
But as any good window washer will know, clarity isn't achieved without the expenditure of actual effort to wipe away the grime.
It's natural to wish for short-cuts and magic to bulldoze those external and internal roadblocks.
If Ganesh's superpower is just that, then he's a god worth worshipping.
"Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha"
Recite it 20 times, then go for a run, walk or yoga class and ask yourself some hard questions about what's really stopping you from achieving what you want.
Amanda Morrall is a New Zealand based personal finance expert. Her first book Money Matters was published in 2013 by Penguin Random House in NZ.