Mindset is the most important factor determining your financial wellness. I will never not believe this. I know this to be a fact because I saw how much my financial well-being changed for the better once I began working on a healthy money mindset. And the enemies of a healthy money mindset are limiting beliefs.
What are limiting beliefs?
Beliefs, in a way, are the stories you tell yourself. They are the narrative around a subject that you create. These beliefs can empower you. Or they can limit you.
And nobody holds 100% empowering beliefs or 100% limiting beliefs.
We as humans are pretty interesting and contradictory beings. We can hold some beliefs that are so empowering while others are completely limiting.
For instance, I believed so strongly in my ability to be a successful plastic surgery resident that it empowered and propelled me to accomplishments that I never imagined.
But at the same time, I held significant limiting beliefs about money that led me to make mistake after mistake, all while feeling incredibly scared and intimidated.
Why would I consider myself so capable in one area of life and so incapable in another? Is one harder than another? Certainly not. Did I have some innate ability in one but not the other? Let me assure you that is not the case.
The reason is that I have created a belief system around these areas of my life. I then accepted these belief systems as fact. One helped me. And one hurt me.
I am sure that we can all think of various belief systems that we hold about ourselves and classify them as either empowering or limiting.
The top five limiting beliefs of wealth-building
1. Money doesn’t matter
People say money is not important. And I agree with that. The paper or electronic “1’s” and “0’s” that it’s made out of are worthless in and of themselves.
But the good that money can do…for you and for others…carries a very significant worth. Whether you would like to admit it or not.
In fact, if money didn’t matter, why would we work? We wouldn’t. Yet here we are, working for money. Hopefully we are using that money to invest toward our financial freedom. (This underscores the importance of having a “why” in your path to financial well-being. Without a “why,” it will feel empty when you get there.)
Whether we are doing this or not, we are just working for money regardless. But again, aren’t we really working to provide ourselves, our loved ones, and even complete strangers with the best life possible?
That is what money does.
I used to say money is not important. I said this when I struggled with money. At that time, I made less money and struggled to keep what I made, let alone get it to work for me. Saying that money didn’t matter was a rationalization to make myself feel better.
But it didn’t really help.
I finally felt free when I learned that it was OK to care about money…again, not for itself, but for the amazing things it can do!
2. I’m not good at money
This is the other major limiting belief that I hear from everyone. I also used to say it to myself.
But seriously, why would we tell ourselves these totally negative and unfounded stories? Like we believed and willed ourselves through way harder personal and professional circumstances and we have the stones to tell ourselves we can’t figure out something as easy as money?!?!
If you have this limiting belief (and we all do to a certain extent), you need to learn The Simple Path to Wealth for Doctors: Back to Basics.
3. It’s too complicated
I do mean it when I say that money is easy. I remember sitting down to read my first financial book and feeling like I was about to open a book on nuclear physics. A few days later, I finished the book and wondered why I ever thought this was so hard. Now I look back and am flabbergasted at just how easy it can become with a little education.
The bottom line? Don’t be intimidated by money or personal finance. Don’t let others intimate you. They do this because when you are scared, you use their worthless services and they make money…from you, not for you.
Just relax, educate yourself, and get started! So many idiots have made a lot of money. College dropouts, etc. You can do it.
4. I don’t have enough time
First, we have time to do anything in our lives. But we can’t do everything. We have to prioritize what is important. And then we have to set goals about these important things. Next, we create intentional plans to reach these goals.
Everyone has the same 24 hours in the day. Why do some people get so much more done in those 24 hours than others? Because they prioritize, goal set, plan, and execute.
I was incredibly busy in residency. But I did have time to play video games. I got a retro Super Nintendo for Christmas one year and played nearly every game in it. (Nerd alert!) I made time for it. The problem is, video games weren’t a real priority of mine for obvious reasons. I was not being intentional with my time or prioritizing what was important.
I could have used that same time to learn a bit about money and create some simple habits that would revolutionize my finances for the better. That’s eventually what I did and it changed my life.
And this is not to say that we shouldn’t take time to relax and play. We absolutely need to. Those are priorities too.
What I am saying is that if we are intentional in what we do with our time, we can and should prioritize, and even maximize, our rest and play time. People are surprised when they find out how much I sleep every night or how much time I have with my family despite being a full time surgeon, blogger, podcaster, real estate investor, etc. It’s because I/we prioritize, goal set, plan, and execute.
5. I’ll figure it out later
Procrastination is normal. I do it. We all do it.
But most of the time, we are procrastinating because we are too scared or intimidated to face whatever we need to do.
For example, I knew that my finances were a mess long before I ever really took a good look at them seriously. I knew I was making mistakes and kept making them at times because I was too nervous to see how they were really affecting us.
So I procrastinated.
The problem is twofold. First, by procrastinating, we let this shadow sit over us and feel like we can never really shake it. We feel unstable or insecure because we are not in control of our finances. There’s a feeling that the rug can be pulled out from under us at any time.
By facing our fears or intimidations about money, we free ourselves of this. For instance, when I finally opened my eyes and took a good hard look at our finances with my wife, Selenid, I didn’t like what I saw. But it still felt really good to stand up to it.
And then, we came up with our financial plan. Now, despite not making a cent more of money, I felt so much more financially secure. Because I had a plan that I knew would lead us to our goals. My financial well-being improved and so did my overall well-being. I also became a better doctor.
Secondly, there is something called compound interest. Most of you are very likely familiar with this.
Basically, when you invest, your interest compounds. Invest $10,000 and make 5%, you now have $10,500. The interest you make the following year will be not on $10,000, but instead on $10,500. And so on, and so on.
Simply, the sooner you get started, the better off you are. In fact, in the beginning of your investing career, how much money you save and invest is way more important than how much rate of return you make. Once you start saving then you can build your nest egg to make sure it provides for your retirement.
So don’t procrastinate and compromise your financial future. The best day to start may have been yesterday or 20 years ago, but the next best day is today. The next worst day is tomorrow!
How can we improve our limiting beliefs?
This is a topic that would fill pages and pages and could be discussed for hours. But here are the most important steps in improving limiting beliefs in any area of our lives.
Recognize and define your limiting beliefs:
- “Deep down, I don’t believe that I am capable of getting a raise.”
State the real, true, objective facts around your situation:
- “I work very hard. I have exceeded the expectations for my job position. Mary got a raise last year from my position.”
Determine if your belief system and facts align. You’ll be shocked at how often they don’t align.
Engage in positive self-talk:
- “I do deserve a raise.” This will sound and seem very corny in the beginning. But it takes practice. Don’t give up even if it seems awkward. This is how you develop an empowering belief system.
Take action. Use your new empowering belief system to create positive change in your life.
Disclaimer: The author is not an attorney, accountant, or financial advisor. His expertise is in the field of medicine. Any information in this op-ed and its links should not be considered personalized financial advice.
Jordan Frey, MD, is a plastic surgeon at Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, New York, and founder of The Prudent Plastic Surgeon.