Financial Success: Too Hot to Handle?

Have you ever known someone who spent or gave away a windfall, seemingly believing they didn’t “deserve” it? Or were they scared to have more than they ever had?

In a recent meeting, a client shared stories of times when she committed financial self-sabotage. When she was on a tear, making what she considered to be “a lot” of money, she began to slow down. The success felt uncomfortable.

T. Harv Eker, author of The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, talks about an “inner-money thermostat,” an inner upper limit we have set on financial success.  According to Ken Donaldson, LMHC, an emotional intelligence expert in Seminole Florida and author of Marry Yourself First , the thermostat is set by “history, events, programming, parents, institutions and cultural messages.”

At one point in my banking career, my thermostat got too hot, too. I was in line for a big promotion that involved a panel interview, and I blew it. People who worked with me couldn’t believe the same Holly showed up for the interview who showed up for work every day. Instead of feeling pride and confidence in the opportunity, I remember discomfort and anxiety. It made no sense.

Because I thought I might be given the opportunity again, I spent the following year working on the internal and external sources of my thermostat. I improved my inner confidence by joining Toastmasters; and I improved my external messages by consciously surrounding myself with people who gave me joy and support. It worked: the next year, I aced it, and got the promotion.

What if you know someone who seems uncomfortable with what they have either earned or been given? Try asking five questions:

1) What money messages do you remember from childhood?

2) Imagine you freely embraced all the financial success that comes your way for the next three years. When that occurs, how will you be spending your life?

3) What would you think about keeping a journal of every unexpected windfall and success you experience for the next 12 months?

4) What one thing could you focus on for those 12 months that would go the farthest toward your financial success?

5) What could you change in order to surround yourself only with people who bring you joy and support?

With awareness, time, and the right support network, financial thermostats can be reset so that no matter how hot it gets, you’ve got it handled.

Holly Donaldson

Holly P. Donaldson, CFP® writes and consults on the psychology of money. Her fee-only, product-free financial planning practice focuses on increasing financial self-efficacy for those seeking a financial navigator to help them make good decisions. She is the author of The Mindful Money Mentality: How to Find Balance in Your Financial Future (Porchview Publishing, 2013) and publisher of the award-winning monthly e-letter, "The View From the Porch." With a fully virtual practice in Seminole, Florida, she primarily serves clients located in the Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater areas. Holly will also work with clients who are a good fit located elsewhere in the United States.

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