I have been trying to lose these last 10 pounds and transition to 50 percent veganism for the longest time. I stick with my nutrition and health regimen for a little while, but as soon as I feel lazy or feel like cheating, I succumb and retreat to my old habits even though it represents the complete antithesis of where I want to be in terms of my relationship with healthy living and clean eating.
Between my failed attempts to make a change, I think I started to believe I was just not built with that discipline or dedication.
The same belief may hold true for those of us trying to curb our spending, live a debt-free life and wisely invest in the future but fall prey to the temptation to splurge, binge and overspend. Some of us may rationalize our spending with the notion that we are just not good with money.
I was reading the book Mindset by Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, which focuses on why many of us will never reach our goals or push through challenges to be the people we really want to be or to accomplish the things we really want to do.
If Carol were our best friend, she would say our fixed mindsets are keeping us from being physically and fiscally fit. Folks with a fixed mindset believe their basic qualities like their talents, personality traits or intelligence are fixed and immutable. They believe natural talent or proclivity— without effort—creates success.
If we were to cultivate a growth mindset, one in which we believe that our most basic abilities (i.e., making mindful money and health decisions) can be developed through dedication and hard work, we would view the hiccups along the journey toward financial freedom and clean living as opportunities to learn instead of signs of failure.
After reading the book, I realized that I definitely had a growth mindset when it came to eliminating $40,000 worth of students loans in less than two years, but I held a fixed mindset when thinking about my lackluster progress on my journey to better eating and living. So I started thinking about how I could apply the mental models and actionable strategies I used to eliminate my student loan debt toward improving my relationship with food, exercise and nutrition.
1. I decided that debt was NOT an option.
I drew the proverbial line in the sand and made a decision that I was not going to carry debt. Once I committed to this philosophy, I viewed all obstacles as temporary. I can’t say that I have made the same declaration for my diet and food lifestyle.
2. I viewed financial setbacks like the occasional splurge or poor use of my credit card with compassion and in the totality of my progress.
Understanding that progress was not synonymous with perfection was key. It allowed me to brush off minor mistakes and stay focused on my goal of financial freedom. I have to apply this same attitude to ensure I don’t throw my hands up in the air and retreat to inactivity each time I don’t meet my high expectations.
3. I had to get comfortable making sacrifices.
Financial freedom required a tradeoff. I could not say yes to a new dress or an invitation to every play or party I wanted to attend or trip I wanted to go on.
4. I had to learn about money in order to respect it more.
Part of developing a growth mindset is being open to learning more about the topic. When you learn more, you make better choices. I took the time to read personal finance books and beginner investing guides, and to speak to frugal folk—basically, I immersed myself in a financially empowering environment. For my fitness and nutrition goals, I think my attitudes toward food choices and exercise will change as I increase my knowledge base.
5. Money management and frugality can be taught and developed. I have not always been financially savvy, but I kept going toward my goal of financial freedom and now I consider myself pretty financially confident. Keeping this in mind is a necessity if I am going to expand my money management mindset.
If you are looking to change how you approach your journey toward financial freedom, meditate on how you respond to other challenges in your life. If you are having trouble reflecting, try reading Dweck’s Mindset. It is a great reference and motivator.
How would you rate your current mindset when it comes to your finances? Growth or fixed? Is there any area of your life that you would draw from and apply to changing your fixed mindset when it comes to your money management skills?