The struggle for financial freedom

Last Updated: Sun, Oct 28, 2012 06:34 hrs

All of us want to achieve financial freedom. But unfortunately, for many of us even after having sufficient money, we don't achieve it. Our insecurity, concerns and anxiety for money still remains. A student of behavioural finance knows that there is constant struggle to decide on goals and working towards achieving them.

The first step towards achieving financial freedom is deciding our financial goals. We should make a list of our future financial responsibilities and dreams. Majority of us stumble at this first step. We don't have the list. Even if we have, it is not articulated or not made in conjunction with spouse and family members.

The struggle, primarily, is in the mind. And being a financial planner, I get all varieties of excuses. I know my requirements at the back of the mind, and hence, there is no need to write them down; I don't have wealth, therefore, entire exercise is futile; there is no need to include my wife as I am the sole earning member; my income is not consistent, so, it is not worth the effort. But the fact remains that we need money for future and there is need to articulate those needs.

  • Simple things, such as making a monthly budget, are hard to implement because one ends up spending unnecessarily. 
  • Despite promises to invest regularly, one delays them under the pretext of bad market conditions.
  • Filing tax returns on time. Every year end, there is rush to buy insurance products to save on tax. 

For those, who overcome this and make a list, struggle to take act upon them. This is the bigger struggle. We face this struggle in many walks of life. Let us discuss few areas where we struggle with our sub-conscious mind.

Most of us decide to live healthy life, may it be eating healthy food, exercising regularly, sleeping early etc. These are decisions related to physical aspect. We also make some rules for our social life, for example, I will meet my friends regularly, call elders on auspicious days etc. Similarly, many decide on leading spiritual life for mental and emotional peace.

How many times we would have listened to nice spiritual discourse and decide to live that way. Yet, the moment we come out of it, we do the exact opposite. Again, this is because our conscious mind listened to something and appreciated it. It also felt that living that way is in our benefit but our sub-conscious mind did not remained synchronised with our thought process and went back to our old habits and behaviour.

Habits are our best friends and worst enemies. It takes long to develop habits and even equally long to modify them. Some of the habits are formed since childhood looking at our elders, many has been developed due to our friends and acquaintance and yet there are some which are formed based on surroundings e.g. impact of media, society we live in etc.

Habits are also formed based on what we speak to our mind. If we keep saying I am frugal person, we will live frugally. Ask all those individuals who invariably struggle to keep up time or be punctual. They invariable tell their mind, everyone comes late or busy people come late or it is okay if we go late; world will not fall apart. Instead of saying it is not appropriate to go late, they give themselves excuses. They justify their behaviour and soon their mind starts behaving that way. Instead of saying it is okay to go late, if they keep saying I will put in more efforts to be on time, soon they will start becoming punctual.

Similarly, people who don't keep their word, use excuses like, I am flexible and amend based on circumstances; there is no point being rigid.

Our mind starts believing and behaving the way it is trained.

If we want financial freedom or for that matter achieve things in life, first make your goals. Second train your subconscious mind to an action consistently to achieve those goals. It will take time. Initially subconscious mind will resist and will not let you change habit. However, if you keep persisting, slowing and steadily it will modify. Remember the story of turtle and hare  - 'Slow and steady wins the race.'

Only way to develop a habit is to keep doing it repeatedly. Initially to develop new habit keep reminding yourself e.g. write down or draw a picture or photograph etc and place it in a manner that it stays in front of your eyes whenever you are free keep visualising it. All these will affect your subconscious mind.

All those individuals who keep list of their goals in front of their eyes, either written or pictorial are most likely to take appropriate action to achieve them. If they keep taking appropriate action repeatedly it will become habit. If that appropriate action becomes habit, they will eventually achieve their goal.

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