The way we as individuals view, interact, and operate with money is ingrained in our brains and developed from our experiences growing up. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to think about money, but it can be very helpful to understand where our biases or blindspots may exist, as these can be roadblocks toward achieving financial fulfillment. One of these has to do with our mindset. Do we have a scarce or an abundant mindset?
Most of us are quite familiar with the phrase “Money can’t buy happiness”, but how many of us truly believe this? There seems to be a disconnect between the way we think and the way we act. We may vocally express this belief, while at the same time spend countless hours at the expense of our family, health, or passions, all in the pursuit of ‘more’. More revenue, more money, more clients, more followers, more likes.
To be fair, this thirst for more is fed by both internal and external factors. You see it on the news (‘Company X shatters profit record’), in business rankings (‘This company has 200 employees and over $1billion in revenue’), and marketing (Buy a bigger TV, bigger house, bigger car, etc), which all cause us to strive for more.
This is also a trait that has been ingrained in humans over many centuries. With precious resources like water and food necessary for survival and in limited supply, our ancestors felt the need to acquire as much as possible when available so as not to be without when these resources were in low supply. This is also what’s known as the scarcity mindset.
In a nutshell, the scarcity mindset implies that there is simply not enough to go around, and in order to prevent ‘losing everything’ we hold on to our resources out of fear of coming up short. This can be as small as reducing (or eliminating) our charitable donations on a monthly basis, or as big as never making the leap to entrepreneurship due to fear of failure. As mentioned above, a scarcity mindset can be a positive when it comes to meeting basic necessities, however most of us are fortunate enough to be able to satisfy these needs with an abundance of remaining resources.
If you find yourself constantly comparing what you have with others, refraining from activities which add joy and value to your life for a fear of lack, or succumbing to settling for certainty at the expense of your happiness, you may possess a scarcity mentality (and that’s ok!). We are not here to admonish you, but to expose you to both the internal and external factors which can play a major role in your quest for financial fulfillment. In an attempt to find fulfillment, we must first seek and attain an abundance mindset.
As I’m sure you can decipher, an abundance mindset is the opposite of scarcity. People with an abundance mindset believe there is enough (money, happiness, clients, subscribers, followers, etc.) to go around. If a colleague at work receives a raise, an individual with an abundance mindset would applaud and congratulate this individual, knowing that this colleague’s reward does not take anything away from you. This helps create more positive feelings toward others, which strengthen both your personal and professional relationships.
From a financial perspective, this mindset allows one to take more calculated risks to improve one’s life. Appropriately investing your savings as opposed to keeping them at the bank for fear of loss can aid in growing wealth. Starting a business to follow your passions can result in greater work/life satisfaction and improved relationships. Donating time and/or resources to charitable causes you support can help provide a sense of belonging and well-being. Taking reduced hours at work while you raise your children can be very rewarding. The benefits of an abundance mindset extend far beyond personal finances, but takes discipline and true understanding of who you are. This self reflection is critical in abandoning a scarcity mindset in favor of abundance.
To answer the question of ‘What is financial fulfillment?’, you need to assess your values and your mindset. Knowing what is most important to you in life and understanding that your success depends on your actions and attitude, not the actions or attitudes of others, is paramount. Below I have included links to other articles which help define and explore the scarcity vs. abundance mentality and steps you can take to gradually change your mindset..
How to Shift to an Abundance Mindset with Steps to Take Today:
As anyone who has implemented exercise regimens, diets, or any other daily routine knows that any deviation from our norm will take discipline and effort. Also know that there will likely be reversions to our old mindsets at times, but the change you will see in yourself and the way you view your life will be significantly improved.
Below, I have included some actions and exercises which can help shed the notion of scarcity and fear and instead foster a mentality of abundance.
- Create a personal mission statement-https://www.getrichslowly.org/personal-mission-statement/
- Get organized- This exercise can help show how much you already have, which can be difficult to quantify without visualizing
- Reduce screen time- Take some time to improve your skill sets and reduce your exposure to the media which does a great job of promoting fear.
- Share- Share your time as a mentor, donate to causes important to you
- Look for positives in every loss and avoid self-thought such as ”I’m just unlucky”
- Stop comparing yourself to others – “If only I had…,”
- Shift your thinking- Instead of “I can’”’ say “I have other priorities” or “not right now”
- Let go of ‘stuff’
- Acknowledge others success & be happy for others
- Reflect on everything you have, not what you have compared to others
- Make small steps
Changing your mindset is not a one and done type of deal, and will most likely need constant recalibration. After all, our brains evolved into this scarcity mindset for survival. But this same ‘survival’ mindset may be hindering your financially.
Take some time, reflect, and work on making small incremental changes that can lead to a lasting abundance mentality. You’ll be surprised how your outlook on life improves!
Andrew Langdon is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and the founder of VetWorth, a fiduciary fee-only financial planning firm dedicated to serving the unique needs of veterinarians and their families.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. I encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Andrew Langdon, and all rights are reserved. Read the full Disclaimer.