New Year, New Mindset: How Mindfulness Will Reset Your Approach to MoneyDecember 28, 2021
For many, practicing mindfulness is an absolute game changer for their well-being. By observing their thoughts and emotions, people who practice mindfulness often find a great sense of clarity, relief, and joy. From finding peace in moments of turbulence to strengthening connections with loved ones, the positive impacts of mindfulness reverberate throughout life. Mindful finance – the practice of observing your relationship to money – is no exception.
Here’s how mindfulness can reset and refresh your approach to your finances.
What is mindfulness, and what does it have to do with my money?
“Practicing mindfulness,” or consciously paying attention to your present experience, is a mental approach that clarifies awareness of our thoughts, emotions, and senses.
When it comes to money, we can use mindfulness techniques to help us understand our patterns – and whether those patterns align with our goals. A person who feels a rush from shopping may struggle to build up savings for their dream vacation, while another person may feel crippling fear about spending money. Both of these responses are normal, but do they lead to financial freedom? The only way to answer this question for ourselves is to consciously observe how we experience our relationship to money.
Information is power: How mindfulness can give us clarity
While many choose to practice mindfulness through meditation, mindfulness is something we can access in every moment – strolling in the park, brushing our teeth, or sitting at our desks.
Wherever you’re sitting, take a moment now to pause and expand your awareness. Feel the sensation of sitting, take in your environment by maintaining a wide gaze, and follow your breath. When you feel your mind start to wander, notice the thoughts and any sensations that arise, and then return to your breath.
The reality is that we can engage this awareness anytime, anywhere – including when we’re making financial decisions. To gain clarity around your relationship to money, try these exercises:
- Pause for a beat before making a financial decision, and notice your experience. About to swipe your credit card? Maybe you feel a rush. Making a big investment decision? You might feel anxiety. To understand how you relate to a given financial choice, take a moment to observe the feelings, thoughts, and sensations that arise before, during, and after you make the decision.
- Journal your observations. Try using statements like “I felt…” or “I thought…” or “I experienced…”
- Be gentle and honest with your observations. When we judge ourselves, we shut down and react defensively. The only way to gain full clarity and make meaningful change is to notice our patterns without judgment.
By committing to these mindfulness exercises, we open the door to a refreshingly honest relationship to ourselves and our money.
Accept yourself and plan for the future you want
It can be tough to face our patterns openly and honestly – but it’s also relieving. Once we become aware of our complex relationship to money, we can begin to make intentional changes that align with our deeper values and goals.
Say you want to plan for your family’s future, but you feel dread when the idea of estate planning arises, so you delay your planning. On top of this overwhelm, you might instinctively judge yourself for struggling to plan. But what if we take a moment to acknowledge our emotions, let go of judgment, and accept our present circumstances? By letting go of judgment, we free up time and energy that can be used to move forward with a financial plan.
Whether you decide it’s time for a retirement plan or feel ready to attack a load of debt, building a financial strategy can greatly reduce the weight of financial decision-making. While it takes time to shift habits, a financial plan can steer us toward mental and financial freedom by bringing our intentions into reality.
Mindfulness is within all of us
With practice, mindfulness can be a clear lens that grants us greater financial freedom. Sometimes the view can get foggy, but our advisors at SWM are here to help you clear things up and refocus on your goals, whatever they may be.