I was a recent guest on a podcast call AlphaMind. Its run by a couple of ex-traders who are now successful coaches working with traders and executives. We talked about money and the mind and I explained how money coaching can help people. “Ok then” said one of the hosts. “So what’s the hack? How do I use this knowledge?” Typical trader mentality, I thought, always looking for an edge or a short-cut. But it got me thinking. How does knowledge help? What is going to really drive change?
I’ve spent the last three years studying how we make decisions, how experiences shape our perception of the world and how we form our beliefs about ourselves and money. This has been a personal journey of discovery, as well as helping other people to understand their relationship with money. And at the heart of this journey is understanding the interplay between our subconscious behaviours – the ones that have kept us alive for millennia – and our conscious, cognitive behaviours – what we like to think of as our thinking. It’s no surprise to learn that our money behaviour is primarily subconscious.
Money Coaching aims to bring greater consciousness to the financial decision making process because subconscious processes aren’t evolved for it, or good at it. They’re really good at keeping us alive. They are not great at long term planning or anything that requires us to engage with our discomfort. If we want our financial decision making to be run by conscious, cognitive processes, then we have to learn how.
The other insight that emerges is that we didn’t make most of the choices that make us who we are. Not consciously, anyway. BUT, we can make choices about who we want to be.
So we have to start with forgiveness and self-compassion, and then this gives us agency. Where we go wrong is by omitting the first part. It’s really hard to believe we can make good choices if we blame ourselves for everything we’ve done so far, without understanding what it was that got us there in the first place.
So that’s the hack, the short-cut. Or, as Peter Crone would say:
“Accept yourself as you are, where you are, and simultaneously get clear on what it is you’re dedicated to creating beyond that.”