3 Steps To Dramatically Change Your Finances Through Focus

change your finances

I’m not exactly rich right now. Two years ago, I’d finished paying off old debts and made a conscious decision to live and to pursue my passions. What followed were a few major expenses. I got my teeth fixed (around 3,000 EUR) and enrolled in business courses (2,700 EUR). I finally got into traditional archery and swordfighting (for which I bought equipment far exceeding 1,000 EUR).

Add to that the fact that I took a substantial cut in salary when I downsized my life, plus a few unforeseen expenses, and you have a fairly skint Sibylle who once again owes some money. Yet when I think back to the time I went broke in 2004, I realise it couldn’t be more different this time around.

For one thing, I owed a lot more back then. But the main difference is that I had no idea about finances and no idea how to deal with the mess. I was scared and helpless. Now, while my finances are a little strained, I still know exactly what’s going on. I went into this knowingly and don’t regret a single expense, because they were all necessary for my well-being and/or happiness. Most of all, I know without a shadow of a doubt, how and when I’ll have every last penny paid back and a comfortable financial “cushion” once again.

In short, I’m now educated about finances. I’ve also developed something which enhances everything in life, including finances: focus.

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Learning about finances


To learn about finances, I spent years going to workshops around the world and doing every program offered online. I read dozens of books on money management and found through trial and error, which of the systems I learned made sense. Therefore, I regularly write about money in the newsletter, and I hope with all my heart that it’s helpful.

The most important thing when you want to change your finances is to tackle them on two fronts: Money management, which is about knowing where your money goes and how to budget it, is step 1. Step 2 is a mindset which is as free as possible from learned ideas about money being scarce, or only coming to bad, greedy people, and all these other things we pick up from childhood onwards.

Where is your focus?


You’ve probably heard about the law of attraction, which states that you manifest in your life whatever you focus on. Focus is what occupies your mind most of the time. Now with an average of 6,000 thoughts that each of us has every day, it’s practically impossible to police this process. Fortunately, there’s a shortcut: Your emotions, which are caused by your thoughts.

Ever felt pretty good, and then you remembered something awful someone said to you, or your child being bullied, and after a minute or two you feel awful? Nothing outward happened, you just thought of something negative, and it changed everything.

To find out where your focus is, check in with your emotions. Set 3-4 alarms on your phone throughout the day. Whenever you hear the alarm, ask yourself how you feel. If the answer is anything other than: “Wonderful!” at least half the time, your focus is not on things that make you happy.

If you consciously adjust your thoughts 3-4 times a day, you will form a habit over time. Think thoughts of gratitude, or think of someone you love. It takes a while, so stick with it for at least a month or two! The change will be dramatic.

Change your finances


Here’s how you can use the above process in relation to your money situation.

1. When you “check” in, specifically ask yourself how you feel about your finances. If you feel awful, or even just uncomfortable, your focus is likely on bills, expenses, or debts. Adjust this towards thinking of the money you receive, however little it is.

2. Create a “giving” fund of ideally about 5% of your income. If you can’t afford it, start with 10 or 20 bucks a month. Donate these to a cause close to your heart. Whenever you do this, send along your love.

3. Also check in with how you feel whenever you spend money. If you feel anxious or worried, stop yourself. Say: “I happily give xxx EUR/$ for this” or, as Marie Forleo suggests: “There’s more where that came from.”

These may seem like small steps, but they will turn around your focus and change your finances. You’ll move away from scarcity and regret, and towards abundance and security. Your cash flow will follow.

Power Up Your Passions

power up your passions

My friend Sarah and I were sitting in our favourite cafe discussing ideas and dreams as we always do. One recurring theme was our little town, and how much we’d like to create community there. “There are so many talented artists and crafters around here… and none of them know each other!” I exclaimed.

A month later, we held our first Community Market in the large beer garden behind the local pub Sarah’s family owns. Yesterday, we had the 4th of the monthly markets, and we’re getting more and more stalls each time. Artists and crafters are coming together and getting to know each other. The atmosphere on these markets is quite unique; fun and inspiring at the same time, for both stall owners and visitors.

There’s a certain magic which happens when creative people share a physical space. They power up your passions. The truth is, making art or crafts can be a little lonely at times, and so can writing or practising music. To touch minds with other creatives feels like the breath of life, and it’s something I believe could benefit practically everyone. This includes you, even if you say you’re “just a beginner” or “not good enough” at your art or craft!

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The Red Tent movement


You may have heard about the “Red Tent” movement, inspired by the novel. Basically, women of all ages get together in a safe space to share stories and experiences. They laugh, cry, dance, support each other, and form a bond which spans generations.

Of course arts aren’t excluded from these spaces, but they aren’t their main focus. I’ve always thought that we need a similar movement for passions, and the Community Market I mentioned above is part of this dream made reality. It’s so incredibly important to share and reach out to others.

There’s a powerful synergy effect when people share things they have in common. It doesn’t even have to be the same passion, or even an art at all (our market includes everything from bows and arrows to homemade food, with paintings, knitting, homemade soap, and jewellery in between). Passionate people are contageous. Put in the same space, they “infect”, inspire, motivate, and support each other. It’s a natural process.

How to power up your passions


When I talk to friends or clients, it’s always variations of the same theme: We don’t have enough time for our passion or we don’t have the money. Oftentimes it’s just a matter of finding “headspace”, enough energy to devote ourselves to what lights us up.

It can be a struggle, and it’s all too easy to just give in to society’s demands. We end up going with the flow of being functioning citizens who work, eat, sleep, and do the housework.

But that’s not how we’re supposed to be. To truly live our joy, our full passionate and creative potential, goes against our modern society’s fabric. In order to stick with it, we need all the support we can get. And where better to find it than from other passionates and creatives?

Ways to make it happen


Not everyone’s family owns a pub with a beer garden. There is, however, a strange dynamic which happens when ideas like this are born: Things tend to fall into place. When you start to reach out to even one fellow passionate in your life, the universe begins to move in your favour.

Make a point of seeking out others like yourself and talk to them. Plant in their minds the idea of community, of sharing and mutual support. Have a pie-in-the-sky session where nothing is too crazy and every idea can be voiced, even if it sounds completely over the top.

Eventually, someone’s going to come up with an idea. There could be a community space that’s available for free some nights a week. It might even be a private person’s large garden or living room at first! Whether you’re starting a knitting group or a book club, a market or a discussion space, things will fall into place. They always do, as long as you make your intention heard and share it with others.

If all else fails, you can always resort to the internet. It’s not quite as powerful as sharing physical space, but it’s still inspiring to exchange ideas and mutual support with fellow passionates online. Seek out forums, Facebook groups, or other platforms. A Google search can open up a treasure chest of new friends to be made.

Stack the odds in your favour and power up your passions. It’s worth working for, and the rewards far exceed the investment in terms of time and energy.

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.

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.