I’ve been thinking a lot about how someone can go from a procrastinating late starter, living paycheck to paycheck, to a goal-setting go-getter pursuing financial freedom with full force.
I mean, how does that happen? Especially if you’ve been stuck in the same limiting patterns for decades?
The more I read and listen and watch others who’ve already achieved great success, the more I’m convinced that it all boils down to one thing: the willingness to change.
If you’re in your 50s (like me), you’ve had a lot of years to make better choices. If you didn’t, then the bottom line is you just didn’t want to. Because, that probably meant making sacrifices and delaying gratification. And it takes a lot of effort to change bad habits and negative mindsets.
You may have *thought* you wanted to make better decisions. But you didn’t, and that’s all that really matters.
And this is no different than most other late savers. I’m not talking about those who were responsible, but then got crushed by extenuating circumstances out of their control and ended up in debt with no savings.
I’m talking about those of us who just weren’t willing to change. For whatever reason, we wanted to keep doing what we were doing, regardless of how it would affect our future. We were living for the moment and giving in to the urges. We were justifying our choices with the YOLO mentality. We were thinking I’ll start saving when I make more money.
If you’re giving me an *amen* right now, then I’m writing these words for you.
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It’s not enough to know what to do.
In fact, that does no good until you get to the point where you’re willing to become the person that will actually do it.
And if you’re uncomfortably close to retirement with little to no savings, that would mean a pretty big change. I mean, if you’ve been living for half a century and you still don’t have control of your finances, then there’s some major adjustments that need to be made if you want the remainder of your life to be your best years.
So, I challenge you to ask yourself – how much am I willing to change to create the future I want?
And I don’t mean just the practical, tangible things. For me, that’s the easy part. Give me the steps to follow and I can get it done. Maybe not perfectly, but I’m willing to put in the effort.
I’m talking about the longstanding beliefs you have about yourself in relation to money. Have you challenged your thoughts about debt and wealth? Do you ever wonder if what you believe is actually serving you well?
Taking time for self-reflection can help you determine which thoughts and beliefs are working against you. Then, you can do the work to change them.
Change isn’t cheap
Wanting to change isn’t the same as being willing to change. Everybody wants to change something about their life. But, few are willing to actually do something about it.
This is because real change has a cost.
To be truly willing to change means you’re open to accepting the good with the bad. The benefits with the sacrifices.
You must open yourself up to both sides of the coin. You have to be willing to accept the pain with the pleasure.
Anxiety, stress, fear, and even a sense of loss can arise in varying degrees as you venture into a season of change. But, many people resist change because they don’t want to feel these feelings.
But, embracing the discomfort that is inevitable with change is a healthy and helpful perspective to adopt.
Genuine change includes the willingness to acknowledge those uncomfortable emotions and deciding to change through them.
What’s the difference between willing and wanting?
If someone asked you if you wanted to make more money, you would most likely say *yes*. I mean, who doesn’t want to make more money?
But if that same person asked you if you were willing to do *whatever it takes* to make more money – what would you say?
I’d bet you would put a little more thought into your answer.
Why is that?
Because it’s easy to dream, but hard to commit.
Wanting comes out of a longing or desire for something. It’s like a wish.
But willing something means commitment. It means action and intention.
If you say “I want to make more money”, your friends would nod in agreement and say *you go girl!* But, they probably won’t hold you accountable to making it happen.
But, if you proclaim “I am willing to change my bad money habits and limiting beliefs to increase my income” – well, that implies you’re taking some serious responsibility.
Having the willingness to change means you’re ready to commit to action and take full responsibility.
No more “I’ll try” or “I wish” or “I want” or “I don’t know how”. Stop trying to fool yourself, and instead acknowledge that these are just different ways to say “I am unwilling”.
Owning your unwillingness is the first step toward a willingness to change.
And when you can honestly say, “I’m willing”, you set in motion the power to change your life.
Questions to raise self-awareness
Most people don’t think about what they’re thinking. And yet, it’s our thoughts that lead to our actions, which give us our results.
When you can identify how your thoughts affect your motives and actions, you develop a deeper level of self-awareness. This examination, then, fosters a willingness to change because you’re confronting all of the flaws in your thinking. If you can identify what’s holding you back from the person you want to be, you’ll find the motivation to create change in your life.
So, begin with determining which thoughts are leading to unwanted results. Because there’s no doubt they’ve had a major influence on your behaviors surrounding money, whether consciously or subconsciously.
Here are just a few questions to ponder:
- Do I think I’m worthy of being financially independent?
- Do I believe I’m capable of generating a six-figure income?
- Do I trust myself enough to reach the goals I’ve made?
- Do I love myself enough to put my future first?
- Do I value myself enough to be completely honest?
The answers you come up with can tell you a lot about why you’re unwilling to make different choices. If you’re not making better choices today, that probably means you don’t believe in your ability to take care of yourself in the future.
But if you wholeheartedly, passionately, completely believe that you’re worthy and capable of achieving success in your life, then you wouldn’t waste time and make harmful choices that hurt your future.
This process requires complete honesty and accountability with yourself. Nobody else can call you out on this. If you choose to ignore or deny your faults, you’ll never develop the self-awareness needed to make genuine change.
The good news is, as you carefully consider your own thoughts, you’ll also discover strengths you didn’t know you had. This will also increase your willingness to change.
Know your why
When you know the meaning behind your willingness to change, you’ll be more likely to work through any adversity you come up against. Motivation and will power will only take you so far. You must connect the what with the why so you don’t give up when things get tough.
One way to identify your “why” is to make a list of pros and cons of not changing.
If you continue to resist change and keep doing things the same, what will happen?
For example, let’s say you decide that you’re not willing to get out of debt. (I mean, you want to, but you’re not willing to do whatever it takes. Be honest.)
What could possibly be the benefits of staying in debt?
If you’ve been in debt a long time, there is some benefit you’re getting from it. Otherwise, why do it?
By not committing to pay off debt, you could have more money to do the things you want. You could live in a bigger house, drive a newer car, and go on more lavish vacations. You wouldn’t have to get a second job, or stick to a budget.
These are all feasible benefits of staying in debt.
Now, what are the drawbacks of not paying off your debt?
You’ll never have financial freedom.
You’ll never have financial security.
You’ll waste thousands on interest.
You’ll have to delay retirement.
Once you’ve identified the pros and cons of not changing, think about the good and bad of making the change. Consider the consequences in the near future as well as the long-term.
Remember that even a positive change will have a downside, like sacrificing comfort or confronting fears. It’s important to acknowledge the difficulties of changing your behavior, as well as the advantages.
Knowing the costs and the benefits of making a positive change will help you define the meaning behind your decision to change or not. If the benefits outweigh the costs, you’ve found your reason to change.
Do you believe?
Once you’ve come to the decision that you have the willingness to change, then the next step is strengthening the belief in yourself that you can do it. If you’re willing but you lack the confidence, you’ll have difficulty getting the results you want.
You may need to seek the support that will bolster your self-esteem. This could mean reading books, getting a mentor, joining a support group, etc. Determine what you need as you move forward, then go find it.
Having the ability to change is important, but it’s not a prerequisite to *believing* you can change. Once you believe you are capable of making the necessary changes in your life, you will find the ability to do it.
The willingness to change is the launching point, but you must also address your belief in yourself and ability to succeed if you want to achieve your goals.
Don’t forget to grab the FREE 6-page Change Your Life workbook to start creating the change you want!
The willingness to change happens from the inside out
The change needs to start from the inside, because our thoughts are the origin to our feelings and actions. What we think about ourselves will determine which path we choose.
I’m not saying to stop budgeting or learning or saving money. Those are all great, practical actions that will take care of your future self.
But maybe you want more than that. Maybe you want freedom from the limiting beliefs that keep you from your most purposeful, fulfilling life. Maybe there’s something holding you back and you can’t quite put your finger on it.
If so, then I encourage you to ask the hard questions and dig deep.
- Own your unwillingness. Be honest with yourself and stop making excuses. This is the starting point of having a willingness to change.
- Embrace the discomfort. Know that you will experience fear and other uncomfortable emotions. This is normal. Commit to changing through the fear.
- Take full responsibility. Stop giving circumstances control of your life.
- Develop self-awareness. Know what you’re up against, then use it to inspire and motivate you to change.
- Know what you’ll lose. Write down what you’ll miss out on if you don’t change. Figure out your why.
- Strengthen belief in yourself. Find the resources that will give you the confidence to more forward.
Too many of us know the right answers, but we’re not living that truth. We too often resist the change that’s required to be our best, most authentic, most purposeful self.
I encourage you to engage in self-reflection, my friend. There’s something inside your thoughts that has kept you from living the life you know you’re meant to live. I challenge you to exchange your comfort zone for deep, meaningful growth that results in greater self-awareness and richer experiences.
What changes need to be made? And are you willing to make them?