This is part 2 of a multi-part series on money, prosperity, clarity, and anything else that came up as I wrote it.
– Stephen King, On Writing
The voices and the complaints and the rants of a sensitive/artist type may go something like this… “Everything sucks right now. Our government doesn’t seem to fund anything but war. Corporations have taken over the music industry, the film industry, the food industry, the industry period. Pop phrases like “No child left behind” and “Just say no!” have infiltrated everything — we use branding as a quick-fix for our deep societal problems. Why bother? It’s all just too hard. An artist doesn’t have a chance in this corporate world!”
This is simplified. But you know how your own voices work, and you can insert your own story here for why it’s all too hard.
Aside from recognizing that complaining weakens us and keeps us stuck, I try to think of it this way:
– That the current challenges are actually in service to us.
– That these challenges are helping us more sensitive or emotional types get clearer and stronger so that our sensitivity and emotions aren’t driving the bus.
Money just happens to be one of the areas that can be trigger-y for us because it requires thought and clarity and a belief in abundance. That’s why I’m writing about it. Having to learn how to function as an artist and a business and learn how to handle money and have employees has been imperative. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure the only lyrics I’d be singing each night would be, “Paper or plastic?”
Give Up Hope and Start A Revolution
I like hope as a noun. But not so much as a verb. Hope is a little like potential. It’s somewhere out there in the future and doesn’t require much from us. Let’s go one better than hope, and put our faith in intent, decision, action, and grace.
I believe that taking responsibility for your life and money is nothing short of radical. It’s revolutionary. It’s not a call to burn your bras or burn the flag, or set anything on fire. Radical acts are happening on a personal and quiet level. (Just ask the recovering alcoholic how it feels not to have had a drink today.)
Note: I’m not Suze Orman. So my thoughts on money aren’t going to be practical step-by-step guides. I can only offer big picture thoughts, and let each person carry them into her own situation and become her own expert on her life. So, given that, a big huge key to my process of becoming my own expert with money has been quite personal. I’m sharing it here because it might help you too.
Think Instead of Being Thought
One of the most courageous steps I took back when I set up my own office was to face my finances head on. It’s a step in a larger campaign of mine called “Think instead of being thought.”
A lot of our automatic responses to money (or anything) and to getting clear about money (or anything) are thinking us, rather than us thinking. If you’re an artist, if you are sensitive, if you are observant, psychic, good with kids, you’re probably quite receptive and sensitive. This is what makes you good at what you do. But other activities in your life require you to step out of receptivity and into a more proactive state. This is what you have to do when it comes to facing finances.
For instance, when I write a song, I don’t sit down and think about a song. I rarely start with an idea and think up the lyrics. It’s an allowing, a receptivity. The problem I had (and sometimes still have) when I started focusing on my business is that I didn’t transition out of receptivity. I was still in a state of receptivity, when I needed to be in a state of conscious thinking. So, consequently I would let myself stay in a state I call “being thought.” I would let my emotions, my overwhelm , my thoughts about, and my dread of facing my finances take over the process, rather than productively thinking about them. I stayed receptive.
When I actually took action in small chunks, day by day, and got clear about my living costs, my business costs, my income, my goals, the energy of dread and overwhelm shifted dramatically. In this case, the truth really did set me free.
If you can relate to this idea, then here are a few tips that might help you shift from being thought into thinking…
Schedule Daily Time to Focus on Your Finances
This is the most important thing I did. Small chunks of time scheduled at an exact hour makes it easier for your mind to recognize that it’s time to shift into “thinking” gear. If you drift through your day hoping to get motivated to “deal with your money,” then most likely you won’t get there. Schedule the time, and recognize that you are shifting your thought process into proactive thought. In this case, you’ll be proactively thinking about money.
Even after I had cleared the chaos and things were running smoothly, I learned from a friend to spend five minutes a day staying current. This has become even easier now with bank downloads and Quicken.
Even if you don’t know exactly where to start, just get out your calendar, and schedule daily time for the next week. Then, show up, and pick one thing to focus on. Or, write in your journal as a jump off point.
Start with Intent
Use the time you schedule to get clear about what you’re doing. This whole process could take some time, so creating a vision will help carry you through when the old patterns strike. I start almost every big undertaking in my life by journaling. This sorts out my thoughts and lets me use my receptive dreamy side to carry me into my thinking side.
Some places to start with journaling: Where you are financially right now? (Do you pay bills late? Do you need to get a credit report? How much debt do you have exactly? Do you need to set up systems so your head is not constantly full of money woes? Etc.) Write about where you want to be and how you want to think about money. Anything you can think of. If necessary, spend several days doing this during your writing time, especially if you are overwhelmed.
Pray and Affirm
A friend of mine told me that when she finally began facing the office checkbook each day, she wouldn’t open it without praying. She would affirm that she was safe and clear and prosperous. She would ask for guidance and help. She would overpower her mind with positive thoughts, and then begin. (She talked aloud too. This often helps!) It has been years since she began this process, and her success is unbelievable. (She still continues the practice of prayer before finances though.) I’ve taken up her practice, and I’m happy to report that it will give you stability and keep you much stronger when you’re doing something new or scary.
Ask for Help
When I began looking at my financial systems, I hired someone to come in and help me think. She was a bookkeeper, but mostly she sat with me during my daily time and looked at my Quicken (and sometimes we laughed at how badly it was set up). She gave me tips and set up systems I use to this day. Truly, it was amazing to have someone show me these things. At her smallest suggestions, I would say, “Ohhhhhh! Wow! That’s so great!” And she would marvel that I didn’t already know how to do this particular thing. (Of course, I didn’t marvel at how she didn’t already know how to write a song!)
Finding someone to help you, or even get you started isn’t hard, but it might take some searching. (You can use your small chunk of time to do this.) I looked for a self-employed bookkeeper who didn’t mind scheduling small blocks of time working directly with me.
This is a technique I use whenever I’m about to jump into something scary. I make my friends into parentheses around my scary activity. As I’m about to begin the scary activity, I’ll call a friend up and announce, “Okay! I’m now going to face my finances for one whole hour!” And my friend will laugh and say, “You go girl!” And then after an hour, I’ll call her and announce, “I did it!” And she will tell me how proud she is of me.
It’s the wildest thing. It’s like having an angel out there holding the space for you. You’ll feel supported. You’re not alone in any of this. Our lives have become so isolated, and if you’re an artist or if you’re self-employed, you know this all too well. It’s easy to think that now that we’re adults, we shouldn’t need this level of care. But we do.
You’re probably getting it now that the theme of many of these blogs is “action in spite of fear.” And you’re right. It’s tempting to tell yourself to “just get over it” or “be less emotional.” That doesn’t work! It’s important to allow for the emotions and the voices, and then find ways to make certain that they’re not controlling your life. If you are emotional, intense, sensitive, receptive, compassionate or whatever, it’s so easy to decide that you’re just not “cut out” for these intimidating areas. Not only are you capable of dealing with the intimidation, but you’ll become wiser for having dealt with it. I promise.