Financial wellness: making peace with money

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By Colleen Killen-Roberts

Over the past 25 years, I’ve worked in small business as a controller, COO and CFO. During that time, I’ve learned how attitudes about money not only affect our sense of well-being but also our ability to succeed.

Many people have beliefs that restrict their financial wellness, such as: “I can’t make money in this economy,” “I’m not a good person so I don’t deserve to have money,” or “You have to be corrupt to get ahead.” Often these limiting beliefs are a sort of negative inheritance, passed on from parents or grandparents. For example, during my youth, I developed a scarcity mindset due to the influence of my grandmother, who grew up during the Depression. Yet later on, I made a conscious decision to stop worrying about having enough money and to instead embrace the idea that abundance was my natural-born right. Once I made that mental transition, there was an almost immediate shift in my professional life for the better.

For entrepreneurs, it’s especially important to identify and eliminate limiting financial beliefs because the health of a business is always a direct reflection of its owner. Mental financial saboteurs restrict not only the wealth you’re creating for yourself, but also for employees, suppliers and other stakeholders. Women business owners are especially at risk here due to a lack of financial literacy opportunities and society’s patriarchal approach to money management.

So, take a few minutes to consider what limiting beliefs you may have about money. Write them down. Then think about positive mantras you can replace them with, such as: I am financially free. There is always more than enough money in my life. I am a money magnet.

In addition to these empowering beliefs, other ways to improve your relationship with money include:

Strengthening your self-esteem — If you have a poor opinion of yourself, you won’t be open to receiving wealth. In contrast, if you think highly of yourself, it will positively impact your personal bottom line. For business owners, self-esteem can subconsciously influence everything from pricing to pursuing prospects to the type of boundaries you set with clients. Again your business is a reflection of yourself.

Being grateful for what you have — Gratitude wires your brain to be happier, which leads to a number of physical and mental benefits. Indeed, positivity psychologist Shawn Achor maintains that success doesn’t lead to happiness, but rather the reverse — happiness leads to success. In his book “The Happiness Advantage,” Achor points to research linking positivity with better business outcomes, such as 19% greater accuracy on tasks, 31% higher productivity and 37% higher sales.

Being generous — Giving is another a powerful elixir to counteract financial fears. In fact, scientific studies have shown that people who are generous with their money and time have lower levels of cortisol, blood pressure, depression and stress. What’s more, they experience greater happiness and satisfaction and live longer.

Respecting money. This is about good financial management, practicing delayed gratification, being mindful about when, where and how we spend money — and taking care of things after we’ve bought them. Financial expert Suze Orman says that even how you organize money in your wallet can reflect whether you’re a good steward of money.

In his book “Heart of the Enlighted,” Anthony De Mello tells a story about a mouse who lived in fear of cats. One day a magician took pity on mouse and turned it into a cat. Yet the mouse-turned-cat now was afraid of dogs, so the magician turned it into dog. Then it became afraid of panthers, so the magician changed it into a panther. Then it becomes afraid of hunters. Frustrated, the magician turns the creature back into a mouse. “Nothing I do for you is going to be of any help because you have the heart of a mouse,” the magician says.

Bottom line: When it comes to financial wealth, it’s not in our circumstance, it’s what’s in our heart that matters.

(Published August 23, 2022

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Colleen Killen-Roberts
Divisional Vice President of Entrepreneurship
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“Entrepreneurs need a bridge between their dreams and reality,” says Colleen Killen-Roberts, Divisional Vice President of Entrepreneurship at the Edward Lowe Foundation. “And that’s where operational expertise comes in. Operations is about creating the necessary infrastructure to take the entrepreneur’s ideas and make them happen.” In this series of articles, Killen-Roberts shares insights gleaned from more than 25 years of operational and fiscal management experience at second-stage companies.