Are you sabotaging your financial goals? Here is the fix...

Even though I pay attention to my money, I still slip up from time to time. I think we can all agree that we spend a lot of our money on things that are not only unnecessary, but unsatisfying too.

For example, if you have been planning to buy yourself a house, you keep spending money on decor stuff to spruce up your existing rental to make it feel more like your own and have no money left for your house fund. Or you’re trying to set money aside for an emergency fund and you already have a few hundred rands in your savings account. Then, you go to the mall to buy groceries with a list and you end up buying two pairs of shoes and a couple of kitchen gadgets you have absolutely no need for.

It's always the little things that you are doing – on a regular basis, often without even thinking about them, that sabotages your efforts every single time. Think about it. You don't become obese over night. It's the daily habits that eventually get you there. Same with money. You might not be an excessive spender but continuing to spend on things that don't serve you or your purpose, will eventually harm your dreams, finances, health, development and overall life.

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But why do we act in a way that is contrary to our own self-interest? And what can be done about it? 

Psychotherapist and author Pat Pearson is the author in her book, identified something which she calls the “Deserve Level”. She explains that "self-sabotage is how we regulate ourselves to make sure that we stay within our self-chosen boundaries. In other words, your Deserve Level creates a ceiling beyond which you won’t allow yourself to go."

Basically we are so afraid to address the things that need to be changed, or under the impression that things will somehow work out if we just keep working harder. The truth is that without effort and making deliberate changes, you will not change your financial situation. Learn if you are sabotaging your own finances and the ways that you can stop. Below I share some thoughts to start your process of creating new and better personal habits, habits that serve you and not enslave you.

Figure Your Out

As I understand it, the first step in Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 step programme is admitting that you have a problem. Actually, that applies to every challenge and problem we face. By taking a good, hard look at yourself, you can begin to notice how you act in ways that are counter-productive to the achievement of your financial goals. 
Recommendation: Start taking notes. For a month or so, carry a notebook around, and start keeping track of everything you do – and then look for examples of self-sabotage, and look for patterns. Get clear about when you’re spending unconsciously, when you’re opting for immediate gratification, when you’re having to say ‘no’ to something you want to have/do because you don’t have enough money for it.
Note: In the end, it’s your choices and your actions that will determine where you end up. Stop playing the victim and take back control of your life.

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What Really Matters To You?

What's important to you? What exactly is, or was, the life you had hoped to live? Although it feels so easy to know what we want when we're young, our dreams-and how realistic they are-get less and less clear the older we become and the more experience we gain. This is one of the reasons we find ourselves in perpetual cycles of mundane existence, going through the same motions. We somehow lose sight of the things that once brought us such unadulterated joy-that we didn't realise mattered so much until they're gone.
Recommendation: Explore your emotions.  Your emotions won't just help you understand yourself but they will also tell you about what really matters to you. Each single emotion that you experience can let you know more about the things that matter to you in life and the things that don't really count.
For example, when you are checking out social media, what kind of emotional response do you experience?  If you got jealous and feel bad about your life then you got emotionally affected by it. 
Note: Each and every single minute you will experience hundreds of emotional changes and each one of them can let you know about one or more things that truly matter to you.

What Stories Do You Tell Yourself?

Adam Smith, known as the father of modern economics, once said, "All money is a matter of belief."
What you tell yourself about what has happened to you, and what you’ve done, creates your self-image, or how you think of yourself. Those stories in your head may be getting in your way and holding you back. 
Recommendation:  Take some time and think about an important goal you’ve set for yourself. What thoughts pop into your head when you think about your goal? Do you feel euphoria or you are feeling defeated before you start? Whatever the feeling, you’ve identified  your beliefs. If your beliefs are negative then you need to replace those negative beliefs with positive, empowering beliefs. According to the Mayo Clinic, you can start this process by following one simple rule: "Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else."
Note: If you’re blaming your present circumstances on your past, you’re not giving yourself the power to create new circumstances in the future. The power of your inner language is powerfully amazing. 

Are Your Financial Goals Aligned With Your Priorities?

Do your spending habits and priorities reflect the life you desire? Are you investing in the life you want? I know, these are not necessarily easy questions to answer. But they are necessary in helping you to figure out your purpose. If you don’t have clear reasons on why you’d likely give up. Knowing who you are and what you want can help set you in the right direction, and the earlier you start thinking about your life, the easier it is to make the appropriate decisions and plans to reach it.
Recommendation: So how can you make sure that you focus your attention on what truly matters to you? The first step is to think about what makes your life worth living. I suggest that you alone or if you are a couple, first take the time to define what you both value. Determine what you want to accomplish in the short and long term. Be brutally honest. What do you enjoy most about your life? What do you want to do more of? Think about your current situation and your goals, and how those align with your life and family. Pay attention to those feelings and thoughts that work with your natural rhythm, not against it. Then write them down and write how they make you feel secure, happy or fulfilled. Once you've identified your most important values, be honest to admit whether or not you are currently living true to those values or not.
Don’t spend too much time looking at what others have, and don’t spend a lot of time judging others’ financial choices.
Note:  Whatever you identify and claim for yourself will become the basis for aligning your life and financial goals. When you are spending is aligned with your value means,  you eliminate extraneous expenses or what you don't value and the process of managing money becomes less of a chore and more of a natural fit with your way of life. 

In closing, you are capable of so much more than you know and in order to get there, you have to stop being your worst enemy. Spend money on things that add value to your life and your relationships. Doing this will ensure that you use money as a tool to achieve your goals, and enhance your overall well being.