Most of us think that freedom means to keep our options open, stay loose and available, and often that strategy does give you a little space temporarily. Eventually, though, keeping your options endlessly open becomes its own prison. You can never choose. You can never fall in love. You can never marry. You can never take the job. You can never really discover your destiny because you are afraid to commit fully.
If you look back on the experience of freedom in your life chances are that it wasn't when you were measuring the options against one another, or making sure you weren't getting stuck with a decision. It was when you were fully expressed, playing full out. It was when you chose fully and completely, when you knew you were in the place you were meant to be in, when perhaps you even felt a sense of destiny. That's when we're free and self-expressed, and joyful or at peace with circumstances-when we choose them. We bring that freedom to our relationship with money when we center ourselves in sufficiency, choose to appreciate the resources that are there, feel their flow through our life, and use them to make a difference.
This experience of aligning our money and soul is available to us every day in even the smallest or most mundane transactions with money, or other choices we make in daily life that lessen money's grip on us.
You don't have to change careers, revolutionize your business, or pack up your family and move away from anything or to anything to take a stand. You express your stand in the way your earn money, choosing work consistent with your values. You express your stand in the way you use money to provide food, clothing, shelter, or education for your family. It can be in the money you use to support others in your community or beyond, through food depositories, or shelters for battered women, troubled children, or homeless people. It can be in the money you use to empower your own creativity and self-expression, or otherwise nurture yourself through classes, books, or music. It can be in the money you pay for the products you buy, supporting the companies that produce them. It may be money you contribute to local, national, and global causes that inspire you, and the opportunity you offer others to do the same. If you are an employee, it can be the money you invest in the resources to make your workplace an expression of integrity, where employees and management have what they need to express their excellence.
Money Is Like Water: Know the Flow! If you want a clear picture of what your priorities are in life, who you are, what you care about, and what you stand for, look at your checkbook, your credit card bills and bank statement, and your spending habits. With every money transaction, you are allocating where you want your money to go, and this easy audit shows the flow. Maybe the money is going to children's education or to travel. Sometimes it's a fit with who you think you are, and other times it's just not. When it's not, there's an opportunity to re-examine how money flows in and out of your life and where you want to actively direct it. 1. What do you care most about in the world? Make a list - e.g., world peace, your children, your community, your garden, your political beliefs, etc. Now look at your checkbook or budget and credit card bills and see how much of your resources you devote to those commitments. 2. Now list the things that trap you: the things you crave, your weaknesses, things or activities that take you in a deadening direction instead of an enlightening direction. How much of your money is going to support activities that take you down or limit the possibilities of your life? 3. When was the last time you made a contribution that lit up your life? How much was it and what was the cause or person or project you were excited about? Did you share your excitement with other people? 4. When do you feel generous and why? When do you feel defensive about money and why? 5. What legacy are you creating right now with the way you use your money? Do your investments and personal spending support the world as you want it to be? Are you investing in people, products and projects that make the kind of difference you want to make? Follow your answers to these questions to discover where money and soul merge to nourish your life! Without a judgment of good or bad, when you know where you're spending, you can make conscious choices to align your spending with your beliefs and highest commitments. No matter how much or how little money runs through your life, you can channel it to fund what you care most about in the world. Consider the possibility of living more consistently with your true values as a financial template or expression of who you are and begin that process with a gentle, but sustainable commitment to aligning money and soul in everyday ways.