3 Key Financial Decisions That Can Change Your Life in an Instant
But if you make these decisions consciously, you can literally change your life in an instant! What are the three decisions that determine the quality of your life? That determine whether you feel rich or poor in any given moment? The first one is:
Decision 1: What Are You Going to Focus On?
In every moment of our lives, there are millions of things we could focus on. We can focus on the things that are happening right here, right now, or on what we want to create in the future, or we can put our focus back on the past. We can direct our focus on solving a big challenge or on appreciating the beauty of this moment, or on feeling sorry for ourselves about a disappointing experience. If we don't consciously redirect our focus, the environment we're in tends to make constant demands to get our attention.
Ask yourself: Which do you tend to focus on more—what you have, or what's missing from your life? I'm sure you think about both sides of this coin, but if you had to look at your habitual thoughts, where do you tend to spend most of your time?
Even those of us who are in difficult situations have plenty in our lives that we can appreciate. Almost half the world, or more than three billion people, live on less than $2.50 per day, which is a little more than $900 per year. The average drink at Starbucks is $3.25. If you can afford that, you're spending more on one purchase of a cup of coffee than what half the planet has to live on in one day. That puts things in perspective, doesn't it?
Rather than focusing on what we don't have and begrudging those who are better off financially, perhaps we should acknowledge that there's so much to be grateful for in our lives that has nothing to do with money. We can be grateful for our health, our friends, our opportunities, our minds, the fact that we get to drive on roads that we didn't have to build, read books we didn't have to take years to write, and tap into the internet that we didn't have to create.
A pattern of appreciating what you have will create a new level of emotional well-being and wealth. And my guess is that if you're reading this, you may be one of those people who already notices what you have. But the real question is, do you take time to deeply feel grateful in your mind, body, heart and soul? That's where the joy and the gifts will be found. Not with just the intellectual appreciation or by the acquisition of another dollar, or another 10 million dollars.
Now, as soon as you begin to focus on something, your brain has to make a second decision, which is:
Decision 2: What Does This Mean?
What does this mean? Ultimately, how we feel about our lives has nothing to do with the events of our lives, or with our financial condition, or what has or has not happened to us. The quality of our lives is controlled by the meaning we give these things. Most of the time we're unaware of the impact of these quick meaning decisions that are often made in our unconscious mind.
When something happens that disrupts your life—a car accident, a health issue, a lost job—do you tend to think it's the end or the beginning? If someone confronts you, are they "insulting" you, "coaching" you, or truly "caring" for you? Does this "devastating" problem mean that God is punishing you, or challenging you or is it possible this problem is a gift from God? Your life becomes whatever meaning you give it.
A change in focus and a change in meaning can be an emotional game changer. We can all find meaning, even in our pain. And when we do, we may still experience pain, but the suffering is gone.
So take control, and always remember: meaning equals emotion, and emotion equals life. Choose consciously and wisely. Find the empowering meaning in anything, and wealth in its deepest sense will be yours today.
Decision 3: What Am I Going to Do?
The actions we take are powerfully shaped by the emotional states we're in. If we're angry, we're going to behave quite differently than if we're feeling playful or outrageous.
But even two people who get in an angry state will behave differently. Some will pull back when they're angry, others push through. Some people express anger quietly or loudly or violently. Some people suppress it only to look for a passive aggressive opportunity to regain the upper hand, or even exact revenge. Some people confront their anger by going to the gym and working out.
Where do these patterns come from? We tend to model our behavior on the people in our lives whom we respect, enjoy and love. The people who frustrated or angered us? We often reject their approaches, but far too often we find ourselves falling back into the pattern that we witnessed over and over again and were so displeased by in our youth.
It's very useful to become aware of what your patterns are when you get frustrated or angry or sad or feel lonely—because you can't change your pattern if you're not aware of it. In addition, now that you're aware of the power of these three decisions, you might start looking for role models who are experiencing what you want out of life. I promise you, those who have passionate relationships have a totally different focus and come up with totally different meanings for challenges in the relationship than people who are constantly bickering or fighting. Or those who judge each other constantly. It's not rocket science. If you become aware of the differences in how people make these three decisions, you'll have a pathway that can help you create a permanent positive change in any area of your life.
It's so easy to lose track of the beauty and grace of what we already have! If we don't consciously do something each day to plant the right seeds in our mind, then "the weeds of life"—frustration, anger, stress, loneliness—tend to creep in. You don't have to plant weeds; they grow automatically. My teacher Jim Rohn taught me a simple principle: every day stand guard at the door of your mind, and you alone will decide on what thoughts and beliefs you let into your life. For they will shape whether you feel rich or poor, cursed or blessed.
From MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom by Tony Robbins. Copyright © 2014 by Anthony Robbins. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.