How To Always Have Enough (3 Principles)

always have enough
 

Two things determined my relationship with money when I was growing up, and they both had a devastating effect: A “rich people are greedy” mindset and zero education on money management. Combined, their result was me living in my overdraft, feeling like a victim of my circumstances, and finally going flat broke in my 30s.
 

What followed was no less painful in many ways: I did realise I had to educate myself about money, but there were many systems and approaches which just didn’t work for me. It took years of trial and error to arrive where I am today, secure in my knowledge and my finances and having so much fun with my money.
 

I’d like to save you the rocky road to understanding and managing your finances. Too much of the information available in workshops, books, and on the internet focuses on “frugality”, on where you can penny-pinch and deny yourself. It’s about as appealing as a double root canal without anaesthetics!
 

Here are 3 rock-solid principles you can apply right now to always have enough.
 
 

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1. Abundance, not frugality

 

If you put the search term “money management” or “finances” into a platform such as Pinterest, it’ll spit out a million pins about saving and frugality. Like I said above, it’s enough to make anyone run in the opposite direction, fast.
 

And yet I, too, say that you need to save, ideally 20% of your money. However, I prefer to see this in the context of abundance. My suggestion is to split the amount of money you can save (even if it’s only 10%, or 5% of your net income) into half. One half is “paying yourself”, meaning it gets saved and invested but never touched. This money will pay you interest, and if you do this for a few decades, you can even live on this interest one day. The other half is “saving for spending” and is dedicated to save up for things like a holiday, a car etc – luxury things for yourself.
 

So, again: You do this for yourself, and it’s not at the cost of paying bills or having fun in the shorter term. This is where point 2 comes in:
 
 

2. Focus on pleasure and always have enough

 

It makes no sense to me to pursue passion and joy, and then take a dry and serious approach to finances. In fact, the true key to abundance in my opinion lies in extending the sense of overflowing love and abundance that you get from prioritising your passion(s), to your money.
 

Don’t make money management a chore. Experiment and find out what gives you joy. For me, it’s online banking – I pull out my phone every day to log into my bank and smile at the money in my accounts. I also glance at my Credit Card to keep track of my spendings.
 

The best way to connect money with pleasure is to allocate 5% of your net income for “Play”. This is money you blow every single month, on things you don’t need but want. Nothing feels more abundant than paying for a round of cocktails in the bar with friends, or buying that piece of jewellery that jumps out to you on a website. Play money is just as important as savings are.
 
 

3. Cut what doesn’t contribute

 

Instead of thinking penny pinching, how about evaluating your spendings from the point of view of what gives you joy? There’s the rent, the heating, the electricity. You enjoy your home, its warmth and having a computer and a fridge, right? So that’s fine. Now go through your more peripheral expenses, such as subscriptions. How much do you use each of those, and do you truly enjoy them?
 

This is how I got rid of my TV years ago. Sure, I enjoy watching a series every now and then, but I can just as well buy the DVDs. TV is one of those things that might give you comfort, but not necessarily joy. In fact, could it be that its comfort prevents you from experiencing the joy your passions would give you? Think about it. It might not be true for you, but it certainly was for me.
 

If you apply these principles, you’ll always have enough. You’ll find you suddenly have money for your passion, for your life, and for those little luxuries that make life even more beautiful.

Do You Even Need A “Purpose”?

Soul Purpose
 

There’s so much talk about one’s life purpose, or soul purpose, it can get a little tiring. It feels a bit as if every moment of every day is supposed to be highly meaningful, and every last thing I do needs to serve some mysterious higher goal. And of course, if I don’t understand that, then I fail!
 

In reality, a lot of life isn’t like that. We do our everyday chores, we work, we look after ourselves and our loved ones, we communicate, we laugh and love and sleep. In a way, all of these little actions can be said to carry meaning and serve our true purpose. I for one believe they actually do. But it’s not like a thunderclap sounds every time I make dinner or hug a friend. Sometimes, “normal” feels good.
 

I’d still argue that a “soul purpose” is important, though. The question is, can you find yours? What about being multi-passionate? I’m going to try to answer all these questions, and while my take on it is obviously a personal opinion, I’ve found it very useful in my own life. If you don’t find the concept appealing, then that’s fine. It’s not a universal truth, after all!
 
 

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What’s a “Soul Purpose”?

 

I myself have often argued that not everbody has a specific “purpose” in life. It’s often an issue particularly for multi-passionates, to try and find one thing that sums up everything we do.
 

I haven’t really changed my mind so much as found that when we dig deeper, there usually is a common theme, after all. It’s like a thread running through our lives. It connects all our multiple passions and the many things we have dedicated our time and passion to over the course of the years. And yes, I’d argue that it’s present in most people’s lives.
 

This common thread is your Soul Purpose.
 
 

How to identify your purpose

 

The question is of course: How do you find out what your purpose is? It’s simple for some – they have a task or work they’ve felt drawn to all their lives, something they are convinced they need to do. It’s wonderful to see a human being who believes in their purpose; there’s no limit to what these people can achieve.
 

For the rest of us, it’s a little more complicated, and this is where passions come in. Joseph Campbell famously said to “follow your bliss”, because in his opinion this could only lead to our life’s true purpose. I believe this is accurate, even if you have multiple, different passions.
 

For now, I’d invite you to write down everything that lights you up. Heads-up: This is not about mere interests. You can enjoy doing a lot of things – almost everyone does – but they’re not all passions. A passion is something that truly sets you on fire, that makes you forget time, something you feel you could do all day.
 
 

Looking beyond the obvious

 

Like I said, the next step requires you to dig deeper. I do this with my Coaching clients, but you can try it on your own. Look over your list and examine your emotions. What do you feel about these activities? Look for similarities. For example, all my passions spring from my deep need for connection with the world around me, people and nature alike, and to cause positive change. That’s how I got to Coaching.
 

Once you have identified your common theme, a good way to verify this is to think back to what you always wanted to do when you were a child, or growing up. In a way, your purpose is your “Why”, as Simon Sinek would put it (for details, check out today’s recommendation on the left-hand side!).
 
 

Tracking down your soul purpose

 

In a way, this also relates to the core values I wrote about in last week’s article. My core values of honesty/integrity, connection, and constant learning and growing are all part of my soul’s purpose of being an agent of change. When you look into yours, and combine them with your passions, a common theme will emerge, even if the actual activities are very diverse.
 

Major life decisions are a whole lot easier when you have clarity about your purpose. A change in career, a move abroad, entering or leaving a relationship – check them against what you are meant to do on this planet. If it’s in alignment with your soul purpose, then you know you’re doing the right thing.

Passions? Decisions? Here’s 1 Fail-Safe Way to Cut Through The Cr*p

passions and decisions
 

When I studied for my Coaching diploma, my class was asked to do a rather unusual “homework”. We were to ask ten of our friends what they saw as our best quality. The result was revealing: Seven out of my ten named my enthusiasm and ability to feel passionately about things.
 

While this is certainly a nice trait, it has its drawbacks, too. One of them is that being enthusiastic about everything also means that it’s really difficult to find time for all my passions. If you happen to be multi-passionate too, I’m sure you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about – a lot of the time you feel like you’ll never be able to master anything, because your attention is always scattered.
 

If you’ve been reading Monday Sparkles for a while, you’ll know some of the approaches I favour when dealing with multiple passions. One of them is to focus on just a few of them at a time, to avoid overwhelm. The same really goes for any types of decisions you might have to make, where you agonise over your options and have no idea which one to pick.
 

How about a simple litmus test to check any options against, that’ll make most decisions instantly crystal-clear? Sound good? I thought so.
 
 

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Who are you on the deepest level?

 

We are all products of our environment to an extent, of our upbringing, education, and the influence of our peers, among other factors. It’s not always easy to look beyond all of these and discover our true inner selves. So much of what we do is determined by our beliefs, which can change over the years.
 

However, there are some aspects of ourselves which don’t change. They make up the core of each person’s being, the invariable essence of their character. These are our values.
 

Values are unique to each person and there are literally hundreds of them. To get you started, I’ve found a handy list for you on the internet. Here’s how you use it:
 

Scan the list and mark down or circle (if you’ve printed it; otherwise, write it down) any values that jump out to you, any you can relate to. Once you’ve got your shortlist, go through it again and eliminate any that seem less important than the others. It doesn’t mean they aren’t your values, it just means they aren’t as near to the top.
 

Feel free to add values that aren’t on the list, but are important to you. Keep eliminating and narrowing them down until you’re left with your five top values.
 
 

From values to decisions

 

Once you’ve got your values, look over them one more time and think of what each of these mean to you in your life. If you’ve done this exercise from the heart and your intuition, you’ve now got a highly accurate list of values which represent who you truly are (and if you haven’t, you can always do it over).
 

I suggest you keep this list, because it’s a very handy “barometer” to keep close whenever you need to make decisions, or indeed when you feel stressed or pressurised and in danger of losing yourself in other people’s demands.
 

The test is very easy. Say you have about six different passions you’d love to pursue. Check each of them against your core values. Which one is aligned with the highest number of values, or is aligned most closely? Take your pick from those and focus on two or three passions at this time. You can always come back to the others whenever you have spare time or feel like a change.
 

Any decision can be made using this test, but its uses are more far-reaching than this. Basically, your entire life should be an expression of yourself and therefore, of your core values. If you find yourself very unhappy in a job, check your values. You may find that the work you do has nothing whatsoever of your values in it, or worse, that it goes against one of your values altogether. These are huge red flags and a sign that you may want to rethink your career.
 
 

True to yourself

Personal happiness is of course a very subjective feeling, but a large part of it is that we like ourselves and what we do. The more radically you align your life with your values, the higher are the chances that you’ll feel happy with yourself.
 

Try it! It’s a wonderfully direct way to eliminate the noise around every decision and action, and focus on what truly matters.

3 Signs You’re Not As Happy As You Could Be

happy as could be
 

Years ago, I was in a slump. Nothing much ever happened in my life, and I liked it that way – or at least, that’s what I told myself. I wasn’t unhappy, after all! It took me years to figure out that an absence of pain or suffering, doesn’t necessarily mean everything’s all right. I wasn’t nearly as happy as I could be.
 

It’s incredibly hard to find guidance on this. I myself have discovered that pursuing my passions gives me that buzz that lifts life from ok to amazing, but I never want to give the impression that in order to do things right, you need to be overjoyed all the time. That kind of pressure usually has the opposite effect: it makes you feel miserable, like a failure.
 

Conventional advice would have you believe that getting a good education, then a good job, a family, and then a house, car, and other material possessions, are the key. It’s a fairly universal assumption that “working hard” and achieving these milestones will make you happy. The majority of people ignore the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
 

I’m going to try to look beyond exterior criteria such as money or position in the world. Here are some factors which indicate happiness more reliably than material wealth.
 
 

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Happy as could be: What is happiness, anyway?

 

I’ve done a lot of research on the subject of happiness, for a course I once offered . It’s a difficult subject to study because happiness is so subjective. Studies have come up with some common ground though.
 

One indicator of happiness seems to be progress. A person who is constantly moving towards goals, regardless even of whether or not they succeed, are generally happier than their fellow humans who spend every evening on the couch. Another criterion is gratitude; apparently, it’s impossible to feel grateful and unhappy at the same time.
 

My personal experience is that happiness is in direct proportion to pursuing my passion. Anything that keeps me from doing so, or harder-to-grasp reasons for me being inactive, are all red flags. I’ve decided to list a few of those, in order to define happiness by the symptoms of its absence.
 
 

Red Flag #1: Food love

 

This isn’t about massages or expensive beauty treatments, although they can go a long way towards appreciating yourself. No, what I’m talking about is much more basic.
 

For me, the way I eat is a sure-fire indicator. When everything’s all right, I crave whole, plant-based foods which give me energy and strength. I do occasionally eat junk food, but this happens once or twice a month, and when I start getting takeaways more often than that, something’s off. Junk food makes me sluggish and lethargic, and I’ve long realised that I subconsciously use it to numb my emotions and hide from the world – and my passion.
 
 

Red Flag #2: Exercise

 

Exercise is related to eating habits. Once I’m low in energy, it becomes almost impossible to kick myself into action. I find excuses, and day after day passes without me moving at all.
 

Plenty of my clients come to me saying they hate exercise but would like to get into a routine because they know it’s healthy. Once they kick themselves into action, they come back gushing: “Oh my god, I’d forgotten how much fun it is!” Isn’t that interesting?
 
 

Red Flag #3: Social life

 

We all have different needs when it comes to socialising. Some are extroverts and relish all company, whereas many introverts prefer one-on-one meetings with close friends. As human beings, we all need a degree of social interaction, though.
 

If I find myself declining invitations and never mustering the energy to drive to an event I’m actually interested in, it means I’m in hibernation mode. Don’t get me wrong: It can be an act of self care to take a few days or a week off to just be alone, but if this continues for a long period of time, there’s something else going on.
 

The challenge with all the above is that the signs are very subtle and tend to creep up on us. And as I said above, if you’re not unhappy, you may tell yourself that all’s well. But really, life can be so much more. You deserve to feel blissful and indeed, “happy as could be”, instead of just ok. Get some support and get moving! Once you gain momentum, you’ll be so glad you made the effort.

About Time!

About Time

 

When I was a kid, I was chronically late. My friend, who’d pick me up for school (in those days, we walked to school), unfailingly arrived on time and stood in our hallway, waiting patiently while I dashed around looking for stray books to stuff into my bag, and my mum tried to get me to hold still long enough so she could run a brush through my always-messy and untameable hair.
 

Looking back, it’s funny, but there was a lot of unnecessary stress in my life when I was growing up! It’s even funnier when I, after learning punctuality and time management in my 20s, get told by people how “German” I am because of this (I live in Ireland these days). If only they knew how very “un-German” I am by nature! It was a big effort for me to come to terms with that elusive thing called time.
 

Over the years, I’ve studied and tried out different time management systems, with varying success. It’s probably no accident that my Coaching specialisation – prioritising passions – has a lot to do with time management.
 

Are you ready for some pointers on how to deal with the, quite literally, ‘time of your life’? Read on.
 
 

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Systems failure

 

I adore the work of the late Stephen Covey. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is my all-time favourite non-fictional book. It all makes so much sense, and I’m applying so much of it in my own life, and yet, the time management system attached to it is something I’ve never quite been able to implement.
 

The same goes for all the other systems I’ve learned about over the years. There are always highly valuable elements I put into practice, but an entire system? Nah. Isn’t that strange?
 

I believe it’s because time is a construct which doesn’t actually exist. Gay Hendricks acknowledges this fact in his book The Big Leap and introduces a principle called “Einstein Time”. He points out how relative time really is, how time can drag or fly depending on what we do, and draws the conclusion that it’s under our command. Humans created it and so we can decide how much of it we have. It sounds a little crazy – you’d really have to read it in the book to fully understand – but as long as you understand that time is whatever you make it, you’re getting the gist of it.
 

When it comes to learning, I’m very eclectic: I take whatever suits me from the different ideas and approaches I study, and put them into practice. In the following, I’ll tell you some “time hacks” you can use to take control over the time in your life.
 
 

Prioritise like a pro

 

If you are one of those people who always have a million things on their plate, Stephen Covey’s quadrants could be a lifesaver. The idea is to focus on the things that are important, but not urgent, things like looking after your health (eating well, going to the gym), your relationship (it’s not urgent to spent quality time with your spouse; you won’t get divorced tomorrow if you don’t do it today, but in the long run, you will run into problems), and self care.
 

The important, but not urgent quadrant II contains all the most important parts of our lives. In reality, it often gets pushed aside by things that are urgent, like the phone ringing, everyday chores like the grocery shopping or picking up the kids from school, etc. The idea is to schedule your quadrant II activities first, before everything else, and make them a priority.
 
 

Master of time

 

  • What activities makes you feel like time stops existing? I mean the kind of feeling you get when you’ve just fallen in love, the way the hours spent with your lover somehow don’t exist, as if the two of you together were outside of time. Anything which makes you feel even remotely like that, is likely a passion and should take a central role in your life.
  • Watch out for your Einstein-Time clues. Audit your life: Are there obligations, clubs, meetings, even hobbies, that you are no longer passionate about? Don’t feel bad about cancelling something. It may have fulfilled you once, but you have outgrown it. Time to let go!
  • Remember that you don’t have to fill every minute of every day with activity. Downtime, simply being instead of doing, is good for the soul and slows down the overall pace of your life. You’ll suddenly find you’re much less busy and frantic, and find time for those things you actually want to do.