One of the great falsehoods most of us live with is believing that worrying, fretting, obsessing, and other such behaviors really help us be more effective. I think the truth is that it’s not because of those tendencies, it’s actually in spite of them that we succeed. Money is one the places that we all do this!
It’s a learned behavior. Our parents worried, their parents fretted, everybody spent time wringing their hands. Okay, maybe there was that crazy uncle that spent money “like it was water.” He never worried. He just spent and spent. I’m not talking about that. I’m not talking about that.
What I’m talking about is the nattering, the checking the numbers four times, the waking up in the night worrying. What’s that all about?
It’s really a function of our clever human brains making patterns. We do an amazing job of pattern making. We sort things into piles and categories in our head. We link them together. We make up conditional statements it like “if A, then B.” It all comes from the wonderful pattern making than frankly gives us more ‘thought space’ for new things. We don’t have to look at each new thing and figure it out from scratch. We find something in our brain database that is similar and sort the new thing into that category. Very clever, very useful… except when it’s not.
Worrying, fretting, nattering, running numbers over and over… those patterns aren’t helpful. They are there because that’s what we’ve done. We’ve worried, spun, and fretted and things turned out okay, so in our brains we have conflated the two together. “If I worry and obsess money will work out”, is the pattern and thus the conclusion—but what if that’s wrong? What if the fretting actually is distracting? What if instead of truly helping it slows you down?
That’s what I think is more often the truth. That we succeed not because of all that tail chasing but in spite of it!
I’m not saying don’t look at your money. I’m not saying don’t spend time with it. I am saying don’t obsess over it. What is the reason you check your bank balance several times a day? Is there really a business reason for that, or is it this fret/obsess thing?
Like most things it’s about balance and moderation. Spend some time with your money, absolutely. Plan, look at the big picture, by all means have a cash flow spreadsheet and use it—all really good things to do. However, when you do them over and over and over they become a distraction that increases rather than reduces stress.
See if you can’t stop in the middle of your stress fest and ask yourself: “Is this helpful? Does this actually make me more effective?” If not, how about doing something else that might get you focused on improving relationships with your clients, getting new business, doing your work in a better way, etc.
How about turning the Fret-O-Meter way down so you have more brain space for being effective?
Shell Tain, The Untangler
Want some help to stop nattering about money and start being more effecitive with it? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com