Beliefnet

We’re constantly being bombarded in the media with the Kardashian version of “rich”—private jets, penthouse apartments, designer clothes, jewels galore, weekends in Paris and parties on private islands.

But guess what? For almost everyone, that’s an unattainable lifestyle, a fantasy. And yet the standard set by the very few becomes a frequent target for success. Anything else just doesn’t measure up.

Here’s the thing: living richly is not about vast amounts of wealth.

It’s about living life on your terms. It’s about using your money to build the life that matters most to you and your family. It’s about feeling rich.

Feeling rich starts with your belief system about money. And that is largely embedded from your childhood experiences: what you heard, learned or didn’t learn about money and its role in your life. I call this your Money Imprint (you can download a free worksheet here to get clear on yours).

Thinking back to your childhood, what did you learn about money? Maybe your parents told you “money doesn’t grow on trees” or “you have to save for a rainy day”. Those messages tend to support a lifetime of careful stewardship of your money.

But perhaps you grew up differently. Maybe showing the world that you are successful in what you buy, wear or drive was the predominant theme in your home. Or you experienced money as a continual source of conflict. Make no mistake—those experiences have made their mark on you.

Your Money Imprint drives your default behavior—what you think of as “normal”. Here’s the good news: even if your early experiences have led you to money misery today, you are not consigned to a lifetime of feeling less than. There’s a path to something better.

Your goal is to lead a life filled with richness, security and peace of mind. You can get there by getting a good solid grasp on your numbers (your current financial state), and then matching them with a clear understanding of the values you hold most dear. Think sending your kids to college, starting a business, supporting a needy parent, being able to retire without worry or funding a cause that resonates deeply in your heart.

Without that clear definition of your highest values, you are destined to remain living in a money fantasy, holding firmly to magical thinking that it will somehow all work out without too much effort on your part.

If changing your money life is important to you, there are two important steps to take. The first is to determine your “musts”—what must happen in order for you to live your values. A “must” could be: “I must be free of credit card debit in order to feel comfortable.” Or “I must protect my family in case I die unexpectedly or can’t work”. You get the picture.

The second step is to understand your financial picture today—what you make, on what and where you spend it, your assets and your debt. It’s vital that you get a handle on where your money goes so you can decide if your financial decisions support your values. For example, let’s say your values include creating a nest egg for retirement. You need to develop the behaviors that support that value and only by understanding your spending habits can you create the shifts necessary to turn that value into a reality.

Fear plays a significant role here. Fear of change, fear of being perceived as unsuccessful, fear of not being included, and plenty more. The fears appear where the will waivers. Consider the constant stream of thoughts and judgments that run through your mind, determining what you say and do. If your friends are joining a country club or eating at 4-star restaurants, you may feel less than if you don’t as well. We tend to place our thoughts in the minds of others: “They think we’re poor!” vs. “They are making financial decision that provide greater security and happiness.”

You would not drive across the country without some form of a plan: considering the condition of your car, the best directions, the cost of the trip, the time necessary to get to your destination, what you need to bring with you, how many stops you’ll make along the way, etc. The same is true of your financial life.

Without a financial plan, you’ll either make financial decisions in a knee-jerk fashion or you’ll avoid making them at all because you’re just not sure what to do. Creating a new system—understanding your money picture and how and why you make decisions—allows you to advance your chances of success exponentially. Just ask yourself: will remaining as I am today bring me where I must be? You deserve to feel rich, live richly and put your head on the pillow at night, free from worry and in alignment with your deepest values. It’s time to take that first step.

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