Confession: I have been trying to lose these last 10 pounds and transition to 50 percent veganism for the longest time… longest time.
But, see, what happens is… I stick with my nutrition and health regimen for a little while, but as soon as I feel lazy or feel like cheating, I succumb and retreat to my old habits even though it represents the complete antithesis of where I want to be in terms of my relationship with healthy living and clean eating. In between my failed attempts to make a change, I think I started to believe that I was just not built with that discipline or dedication.
The same belief may hold true for those of us trying to curb our spending, live a debt-free life, and wisely invest in their future but fall prey to the temptation to splurge, binge, and overspend. Some of us may rationalize our spending with the notion that we are just not good with money.
I was reading the book Mindset, by Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, which focused on why many of us will never reach our goals or push through challenges to be the people that we really want or to accomplish the things that we really want to do.
If Carol were our best friend, she would say that our fixed mindsets are keeping us from being physically fit and fiscally fit. Folks with a fixed mindset believe their basic qualities, like their talent, personality traits, or intelligence is fixed and immutable. They believe natural talent or proclivity— without effort—creates success.
If we were to cultivate a growth mindset, one where we believe that our most basic abilities (i.e. making mindful money and health decisions) can be developed through dedication and hard work, we would view the hiccups along the journey toward financial freedom and clean living as opportunities to learn instead of signs of failure.
After reading this book, I realized that I definitely had a growth mindset when it came to eliminating $40K worth of student loans in less than two years, but held a fixed mindset when I thought about my lackluster progress on my journey to better eating and living. So, I started thinking about how I could apply the mental models and actionable strategies I used to eliminate $40K worth of student loan debt toward improving my relationship with food, exercise, and nutrition.
I decided that debt was NOT an option. I drew the proverbial line in the sand and made a decision that I was not going to carry this debt. Once I made the shift toward committing, I viewed all obstacles as temporary. I can’t say that I have made the same declaration for my diet and food lifestyle.
I viewed financial setbacks like a splurge here or poor use of my credit card there with compassion and in the totality of my progress. Understanding progress was not synonymous with perfection allowed me to brush off minor mistakes and stay focused toward my goal of financial freedom. I have to apply this same attitude to ensure that I don’t throw my hands up in the air and retreat to inactivity each time I don’t meet my high expectations.
I had to get comfortable making sacrifices. Financial freedom required a tradeoff. I could not say “yes” to a new dress or an invitation to every play, party, or trip that I wanted to go to.
I had to study about money in order to respect it more. Part of developing a growth mindset is being open to learning more about the topic. When you learn more, you make better choices. I took the time to subscribe to personal finance books, read beginner investing guides, and speak to frugal folk—basically, I immersed myself in a financially empowering environment. For my fitness and nutrition goals, I think my attitudes toward food choice and exercise will change as I increase my knowledge base.
Skills like money management and dispositions like frugality can be taught and developed. I have not always been financially savvy but I kept towards my goal of financial freedom and now I consider myself pretty financially confident.
If you are looking to change how you approach your journey toward financial freedom, meditate on how you respond to other challenges in your life. If you are having trouble reflecting, try reading Dweck’s Mindset as great reference and motivator. Also, I wrote a free ebook The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan available on The Frugal Feminista just for this. Day 1 of The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan digs into the role that negative self-talk plays in keeping us from abundant living.