3 Steps To Dramatically Change Your Finances Through Focus

finances focus

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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Finances revolutionised

 

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 about 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.
 
 

Make it work for 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. You’ll move away from scarcity and regret, and towards abundance and security. Your cash flow will follow.

Can You Make Money Doing What You Love?

Crafts - make money doing what you love

Can you make money pursuing your passion? I’ve heard all the objections. In fact, I’ve used quite a few of them myself in my time:
 

“I’m not a pro, I can’t charge for this!”
“I love doing it. I don’t need to make lots of money.”
“Charging for it degrades my work.”
“Who would pay this much?”
 

Why do we resist earning money with our passion(s) so much? It’s almost like we prefer to stay in dead-end jobs and meaningless drudgery – well, I know not all of us live that kind of life, but look around yourself and you’ll see how many still do.
 

I believe it’s because we have been so brainwashed into thinking that paid work has to be something we dislike, or at least something we wouldn’t do voluntarily. We’ve come to believe it’s somehow unethical to charge for something we love doing.
 

I call BS. Doing what lights you up is the reason why you were put on this planet. You are here to radiate joy and love, not to suffer in misery. It follows that it must also be possible to live off whatever you earn with your passion.

[bctt tweet=”We’ve come to believe it’s somehow unethical to charge for something we love doing. I call BS.”]

 

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Why not just give your work away?

 

The marvellous Leonie Dawson once wrote an article in which she told a story of one of her mentors, who taught her about charging for her artwork. The rationale was that there is a balance of energy which needs to be preserved. You create your crafts or art, and provide your services, by using all your heart and love and energy on it. Therefore, when you give it away, there needs to be an equal amount of energy flowing back to you: energy in the shape of money.
 

Next time you think you should give your stuff away because you had fun creating it, remind yourself of the balance of energy. Life just doesn’t work with energy flowing in one direction only. There needs to be an exchange, giving and receiving, in order to preserve the natural balance.
 
 

Charge realistic prices

 

Think what a craftsman or a plumber charges per hour, and ask yourself whether your service, or your art or craft, is worth so much less? Your time is your most valuable commodity.
 

For example, when I determine the prices for my Coaching, I don’t just calculate the actual hours of the Coaching sessions with my client, but the many hours preparing and sending emails and materials, as well as the learning and further study I do in order to stay up to date in my field.
 

If you, for example, create jewellery, think of similar pieces sold in a commercial shop and what they cost. Now consider that those pieces are probably mass produced, whereas your work is likely unique and at the very least, handcrafted – this alone is worth a hefty premium! People expect to pay more for unique pieces, so don’t be afraid to ask for a sum which reflects this.
 
 

The nuts and bolts

 

If you are going to give it a go and try to make money with your passion, be sure to build a strong back end before you give up your daytime job. Most people have zero knowledge of business, and this goes especially for creative types.
 

A small online business isn’t rocket science, but you still need to learn about costs, turnover, and profit, about marketing and advertising, and how to budget. I highly recommend investing in yourself there; people often think they’ll save money, but in the end they waste so much more by trial and error.
 
 

Why?

 

Finally, why do I think this is important? Because it’s my deepest belief that you are on this planet to shine, that you are meant to be joyful and live in bliss. It’s your purpose as a human being. You weren’t born to pay bills or buy a suitably upper-class house or car. You weren’t born to reach life’s “milestones” like marriage, kids, job promotion, and retirement like clockwork if that’s not what lights you up.
 

I’ll say it again: You were meant to shine. To shine, you need to do what lights you up. By the natural order of the universe, doing this will provide you with all you need to live. The only caveat is that you need to learn how to do this – by charging enough money and learning how to run a business – because we aren’t taught these things in our schools.
 

Do the work and claim your joy!

[bctt tweet=”You were meant to shine. To shine, you need to do what lights you up.”]

Plug Your Money Leaks (and have fun with it)

Personal Finances, Money Leak

There was nothing fun about going broke and having a large, powerful bank breathing down my neck. And yet, it led to massive personal growth for me. I got my act together and learned about personal finances (and of course, paid back every last cent I owed), and I learned incredibly useful lessons along the way.
 

Easily the best and most useful of these lessons was the realisation how much stuff I don’t need in my life. My clothes didn’t fall apart even after three years. I didn’t need to order in pizza, I could bake the frozen version from the supermarket just fine. I realised with relief, that neither my happiness nor my self-worth depended on anything I needed money for.
 

It also taught me a lot about my spending style, and the reasons why I had always been terrible with money up until then. One major point is what I call “money leaks”, and it’s so big, I decided to dedicate an entire article to it. Heads up: If you identify and plug the places where you’re “leaking money”, you’ll end up with much more, without penny-pinching.

[bctt tweet=”If you identify and plug the places where you’re ‘leaking money’, you’ll end up with much more, without penny-pinching.”]

 
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Identifying your money leaks

 

We all have different spending habits. That’s why it’s important to track your spending for a while. Don’t worry, you won’t have to write down every croissant you buy forever! Just stick with it for a month and see what you can learn from it.
 

A lot of money advice seems to focus on frugality. My approach is a little different: I recommend you save money in order to finance more joy with it! Plugging the money leaks is much easier this way. By the way, if you haven’t done my free online training yet, you can sign up for it here – it’ll give you 3 days of lessons and assignments you can put into practice immediately.
 

A money leak is an expense that’s not strictly necessary and doesn’t contribute to your joy and passion (or passions) in the long term. In the following, I’m going to give you a list of common leaks, in order to give you an idea. Yours might be completely different, of course, but it’ll be easier for you to spot them once you know what to look for.
 
 

Subscriptions

 

These are recurring, often monthly, expenses which seem completely insignificant on their own. How much can those few bucks for Netflix really hurt? The problem is, that it’s a constant “leak”, and if you add up all your subscriptions, the amount you spend on them per year can be rather frightening.
 

The solution: Ask yourself if you can get the same thing for free. Could you pool your Netflix account with a friend, or watch the same shows on DVDs a friend owns and could lend you? Do you get a newspaper whose main articles are all available online for free? Is your TV really enhancing your life, or taking time from your reading and your passion? Are you paying for an anti-virus program when a free one would work, too?
 
 

Clubs and gym memberships

 

Do you still pay for that gym membership although you’ve stopped going six months ago? Or do you pay for a social club whose meetings you hardly ever attend? It might be time to weed those out.
 

The solution: The gym is not the only way to get into shape. Look for online workout videos and find a sports hobby you actually enjoy. Try running with a friend or playing volleyball with a group at a public volleyball court. You’re more likely to stick with it this way, and it won’t cost you a thing!
 
 

Special offers

 

Certain shops and websites run regular offers which are so cheap, it seems insane not to buy them. The problem is that this tricks you into buying things you would never have got otherwise, and a lot of the time you end up buying additional stuff, spending even more.
 

The solution: Before you hit the “Add to Cart” button, ask yourself if this pretty porch lantern is really essential for your passions and your joy in life. You have lived, how many years, without it – could you perhaps do without a little longer?

[bctt tweet=”If it’s something you wouldn’t buy if it wasn’t cheap, then even the cheap price is too much.”]

Once you’ve plugged those money leaks, you’ll be surprised how much more cash you have left every month. It’s time now to invest this – into savings, into “play” money (a certain amount you’re allowed to blow each month), and of course into your passion! Have fun with this, and always think in terms of what else you can afford now, rather than what you’re denying yourself.

Language, Please!

language

In 2001, when I first learned about the law of attraction and the power of focusing on the positive, I was less than thrilled at the prospect of having to control my thoughts. If you consider that a human being has an estimated 50,000 thoughts every single day, you’ll realise that policing every one of them would be a 24/7 job.
 

Fortunately, there are shortcuts to mastering the thought process, and the single most effective of these is language. There’s a reason why psychologists tell you to eliminate negative self-talk if you want to improve your self-confidence – language simply is that powerful.
 

In fairy tales and folk myths, you’ll often have a sorcerer or a witch who alters the course of the hero or heroine’s life with a single word or curse. Another word or spell can set things to rights again just as easily. Rumpelstiltsken is undone by someone knowing his name, only one single word!
 

As with all folk tales, there’s a kernel of truth buried in the fiction. If people truly understood the power of language, everyone would dedicate a fair amount of energy to learning about it. In order to give you a head start, I’m going to show you how to use the power of language and the law of attraction when it comes to the two most frequent obstacles to increasing your happiness and pursuing your passions: time and money.
 
 

 
 

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Words of power: Time Management

 

We may not realise it, but we all have our own stories and beliefs around time. In our day and age, most people’s “time stories” revolve around never having enough time, or running out of time. Our lives are so crammed full of responsibilities, distractions, and opportunities, it seems like 24 hours per day can never be enough.
 

In his book The Big Leap (I know I keep recommending this, but it really is that good!), Gay Hendricks introduces a concept he calls “Einstein Time”. Basically, it’s about the realisation that time is a man-made construct. Time exists because we say it exists, and it’s anything but logical and predictable. We all know that “time flies when you’re having fun” and also that half an hour can seem like an eternity for a bored student or employee.
 

You can make language work for you in time management. Here are three steps to take:
 

  • Observe language around time for a day or two. You’ll be surprised at how often you or somebody else say they’re “busy” or “must dash”, or similar.
  • Think of ways to express these situations without mentioning or implying busy-ness. Try: “I’m off to xyz” or: “I’ve got a few interesting projects going on”.
  • Now that you’ve defused the “busy language”, you can re-assert your control over time. Think of statements you consciously want to use in future, such as: “I am taking the time to…”, “Today, I’ve decided to spend time on …”

 

Words of power: Money Management

 

When it comes to money, most people think of either frugality or a positive mindset. The latter in particular can be a challenge, especially if you’re paying off a mortgage or a loan, and/or never quite make enough money to live your dreams. Simply thinking “I’m rich” will feel like a lie, and any intelligent, honest person will resist doing this.
 

Instead, may I suggest simply adjusting the way you talk about money? Here are your three steps for this one:
 

  • Become aware of how often you or others talk about money in scarcity language, using expressions like “I’m broke,” or “I can’t afford it”.
  • Find alternative expressions for these, such as: “It’s not in my budget,” or “I choose to spend my money elsewhere this month/year”.
  • Now, insert positive statements about money into your language: “I’m so glad that’s done!” after you’ve paid a bill (instead of resenting it), or: “It feels good to be secure,” after your salary or any kind of payment comes in.

 

Playful language

 

The key to all this is to view it as a game, rather than a chore. Play around with language. Challenge yourself to use one of your new, empowering phrases around time or money twice or three times every day for the coming week, and reward yourself at the end of each day you’ve managed to do it.
 

These processes may take a while, but after a few weeks, your new language will come to you easily. And then you’ll be ready to reap the rewards! Brace yourself, because the law of attraction may just blow your mind.

Monday Sparkles: Your Priorities Aren’t What You Think

Sunny hillside, wild money, wild spirit

It’s clear that we aren’t always free to choose our priorities exactly how we want them. If we could, every loved-up couple would spend all their time together and hardly anyone would turn up to work anymore. However, we do have control over our lives and therefore it’s worth it to take a look at our actions versus our intentions.

In the following, I’m going to help you gain clarity about your own, deepest priorities in life. If it turns out they aren’t aligned with your life situation, I’m also going to suggest steps to take towards balancing priorities with the demands of life.

Let’s dive in.

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What really matters to you?

Open a new text document, or if you prefer, take out pen and paper. I would like you to take five minutes to write down your priorities. Be sure not to write what you think is expected of you (family, kids and so forth feature on most people’s lists, but please don’t put down anything just because you feel it’s “the right thing” to focus on). Nobody will see this list apart from you, so be completely honest with yourself.

I suggest you start out by brainstorming anything that’s important to you without regard to the order in which you write them down. Once your list is complete, you can try ranking it. You should end up with at least five items (there might be as many as 15, or more) saying anything from “my husband” to “table tennis” and “time spent alone in nature”. Don’t forget to include worldly matters like success in your job or making money.

The moment of truth

Next, start a new page and write two more lists:

1. A list of the things you spend money on each month.
2. A list of where you spend your time every day and week.

The first list will be easy to put together if you’ve done the first part of my free money training series. One of the exercises was to write a list of all your expenses in a month. If you haven’t done the training yet, it’s still there for you whenever you wish to do it, and in the meantime you can simply write down your expenses by yourself.

Number 2 is even easier: How many of your weekly waking hours do you spend at work, doing housework, chauffeuring your kids, following your passions, with loved ones, exercising, etc etc? Rank this list, too, and the money list, by largest amounts of time respectively money spent. Now compare these two lists to your list of priorities, the one you wrote out first. What do you see?

Your result and what to do about it

They say, “money talks”. I say, yes it does, and time talks, too. What does your comparison reveal? Do you spend your money and your time where your heart lies? Or is your life out of alignment with your goals? The truth is that your priorities are wherever you spend your money and your time. It’s good and well to protest that other things are more important to you – as long as your actions, your life, don’t reflect this, your “priorities” remain pretty words.

This may sound harsh, especially since there are realities in life we all face, such as having to pay rent or a mortgage, and needing money for food. Like I said at the beginning of this article, most of us have obligations we cannot simply break free of, especially since they often affect other people in our lives as well, such as children or other family members.

At the same time, it’s still possible to align your life with what matters to you. Work and obligations only take up so much time. The rest of your day is up to you. You may argue that you’re tired in the evenings, but does TV really refresh you or is it just convenient? Look over your list again and find the time- and money-wasters. If you are serious about putting your money (and time) where your heart is, you’re going to have to learn money management as well as time management and be ruthless with anything that keeps you from living the way you want to.

It’s quite a process, and I gently suggest you get some support in the form of a buddy, a mastermind group, or a Coach. Your life is your own, and it’s up to you to shape it into a form you love! Otherwise, what’s the point? The effort is always worth it.