Our money desires rarely have anything to do with money. Like sex or possessions, money carries symbolic weight well beyond the actual act or object itself. The problem is when we don't do the deeper dive to understand what it means to us, as then we're driven by intentions that are unclear, unconscious and uncontrollable.
Comedian Whitney Cummings isn't known for financial strategy, or even for joking about money in her stand-up routines, but she has one of the sharpest takes on money I've read in recent memory. Here is the most memorable part of her piece in Money:
To change the way I thought about money, I started substituting the word "money" with the word "freedom." This helped make previously difficult financial decisions way easier -- and made the ones that used to be easy way harder. For example, if I was wondering about putting money into my 401(k), which I'm always hesitant to do because I want to see the money in my account now, I'd ask myself "Should I put some freedom into my 401(k) so I have some freedom when I get older?" All of a sudden, it was a no-brainer.
Speaking coach Michelle Mazur recently shared the piece and it has stuck with me. I realized that we all have a substitution for money, whether we realize it or not.
You want more money. Why?
Lynne Twist's great book The Soul of Money explains why you need to know why you need more money:
What became clear was that when people were able to align their money with their deepest, most soulful interests and commitments, their relationship with money became a place where profound and lasting transformation could occur. Their money - no matter what the amount - became the conduit for this change.
Money can represent power, which it does for many. But the power to do what?
For Bill Gates, it is the ability to heal regrets. For Warren Buffett, it is the passion of creating and giving opportunities.
For me, it is create experiences, hence me understanding the ins-and-outs of first class flights, working hard to open doors for my family and others and even not shying away from good food and drink. You'd be hard pressed to find me drooling over a new car, since experiences, and not possessions, are what I equate with money.
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