(Michael is away on holiday, so this week’s tip is an excerpt from his book You Can Have What You Want.)
When I ask people what holds them back from living the life of their dreams, the number one answer they give me is money, or more specifically the lack of it in their lives. And given that on average, we spend at least a third of our time each day in an attempt to collect money, money’s place in our overall vision for our lives would seem pretty crucial.
Yet most people still think of money as at best a ‘necessary evil’ or at worst, something which ‘those that have’ use to keep down those that haven’t. And as with any other area of our lives, it’s our unexamined and unquestioned assumptions about money that have the most significant impact on how we relate to it.
I personally believe a large part of why my clients and I are consistently able to increase not only our income but also the pleasure, satisfaction and meaning we get from money comes about as a result of consistently challenging those assumptions. We do this by asking and answering questions which reveal not only what we are believing about money but also why we are believing it.
Here are seven fun and powerful questions designed to give you a sense of how money and your ultimate life vision are interconnected.
Let’s start with some biggies:
1. What would you do if you won the lottery?
2. If all jobs paid the same, what would you choose to do?
3. If you were given a million dollars and you had to use it all up in a month, how would you spend it?
I like questions like these; they inspire powerful fantasies and can help clarify your fondest desires. Trouble is, they’re a bit impractical – you haven’t won the lottery, all jobs don’t pay the same, and statistically speaking, you’re more likely to be kicked to death by a goat than given a million dollars.
So now, let’s ask ourselves some questions a bit ‘closer to home’…
4. What role does money currently play in your life? What role would you like it play?
5. If wanting more money was a way to compensate for something you feel is lacking in yourself, what would it be compensating for?
6. What have you made more important than having money in your life? What have you made less important?
7. On a scale from 1 – 10, how much do you enjoy the whole subject of money? What is at least one thing you could do right now to up your enjoyment?
While each of these questions will assist you in making powerful shifts in the area of money, perhaps the most fundamental shift in my own thinking came about as the result of asking myself an eighth question:
Is making money a worthy goal?
The reason this question seemed so fundamental to me was that if making money was a worthy goal, I wasn’t putting nearly enough time, focus and energy into it; if making money wasn’t a worthy goal, I was spending far too much time, focus, and energy on it.
In NLP, we make a distinction between sensory based language (about what you can see, hear, taste, touch, or smell) and vague language, affectionately referred to as ‘fluff’. While good fluff has its place (most summer beach reading comes easily to mind), it is decidedly un-useful in making useful decisions. The simple truth of the matter is, vague questions lead to vague answers.
The way to de-fluff language is by seeking to recover any key bits of information that have been left out, distorted, or generalised. When I applied this idea to my original question, the ‘real’ question was revealed:
Is making (How much money? In what time frame? For what purpose?) a worthy goal?
Initially, I filled in the blanks like this:
Is doing whatever it takes to make as much money as possible in order to guarantee I never need to worry about money again a worthy goal?
For me the answer to this question was a firm ‘no’. While never needing to worry about money again seemed a worthy enough goal to me, I also realized from my work coaching millionaires that it is rarely achieved by attaining a certain quantity of money, no matter how large.
Similarly, while ‘Do whatever it takes!’ sounds great coming out of the mouth of a motivational speaker or underneath a framed photo of a spectacular athletic achievement, it loses much of its magic if you imagine it coming out of the mouth of your least favourite dictator or under a picture of a village destroyed by war, famine or poverty.
Next, I filled in the blanks like this:
Is making enough money this year from work I love and want to do in order to cover all our expenses, save 10%, give away 10%, make some home improvements and cover our tax bill a worthy goal?
This time, the answer was equally obvious – an unquestionable yes. Just for fun, I filled in the blanks a third time:
Is making enough money over the next ten to fifteen years from work I love and want to do in order to look after my family, put my kids through university, create financial independence and give away over a million dollars to charities and related causes a worthy goal?
Now, my answer was not only a resounding ‘yes’ but my brain began overflowing with creative ideas for creating and exchanging value in the world. Once again I had found my ‘wow!’ – my unique blueprint for success. And as money began to flow into my life at unprecedented levels, I realized once again that there is something almost magical that happens when you give yourself permission to really want what you want – even money!
From theory to practice…
A Worthy Goal
1. Do you consider making money a worthy goal for you? If you’re not 100% clear on your answer, fill in the blanks for yourself until you get an unmistakable ‘yes’:
‘Is making (how much money in what time frame for what purpose?) a worthy goal?’
2. When you have found the amount of money, time frame and purpose that makes making money an undeniably worthy goal for you, go for it!