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One thing that truly fascinates me about people is their capacities to tell stories. From books to films, TV shows and even adverts and news reports, everything involves a common thread: a narrative.
Exactly what that narrative, the story, is varies widely, but so much of life boils down to stories.
The stories we tell, and the stories we hear.
Just think about the conversations you have on a day-to-day basis with friends, colleagues, and family – they’re full of stories.
What we did that day, things that happened at work, something interesting we heard, or the tales we tell each other while reminiscing about past events.
Money is no different to any other aspect of life in this respect because it runs on stories.
Whether you are wealthy or not is largely dictated by your mindset, and your money mindset is essentially a story.
A money story.
A narrative that you have constructed around money throughout the course of your life, based on your experience with money and finances.
One of the easiest ways to understand money mindset issues is to look at your money story and consider if it’s positive, or negative.
A positive money story is a reflection of a positive money mindset, and the ability to embrace abundance in your life. If you’re not already doing well financially, a positive money story means you’re in a great place mentally to make that success happen.
On the other hand, a negative money story will only reinforce your negative money mindset, negative beliefs that are limiting you, holding your back, preventing you from achieving the success you want, and creating the abundance and wealth you deserve.
But what exactly is a ‘money story’, and how do you make sure yours has a Happy Ever After ending?
What Is Your Money Story And Why Is It So Powerful?
At its simplest, your money story is a collection of things you tell yourself on a reasonably regular basis that have to do with money. Things like:
- There isn’t enough money
- It’s hard to make money
- I never have any spare money
- It’s important to live within your means
- You shouldn’t take chances with money
- Being rich is greedy
- Money is evil
- Everyone has debt, it’s inevitable
- It’s tough to get out of debt
- Life is always going to be a struggle financially
- The only way to be truly successful is to work at least 100 hours a week
These are all really limiting money beliefs but they come together to form your money story. And it’s a powerful one, because you tell it to yourself every single day.
Your money story has the power to create wealth and abundance in your life, or limit your success.
We have so many perceptions, and sometimes even prejudices, as a result of our thoughts and beliefs around money. And the thing is, your money story is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We’re convince we never have money left over at the end of the month, so when we reach the end of the month and find there’s still plenty of money in our bank account, we panic and spend it.
It’s not usually conscious, it’s simply an ingrained habit built up over a lifetime. There are certain beliefs we have, certain things we expect, and our attitudes and actions as a result of those beliefs tend to do nothing but reinforce them.
We tell ourself the story so often we end up living it, and the more we live it, the more it seems to be true.
And this isn’t our fault.
We’re not being purposefully negative or trying to keep our money story negative, it’s something that’s essentially set when we’re very young.
Our parents’ attitudes to work and money, our upbringing, our social situations, our communities, what we’re taught in school, our first experiences of work, and so many other factors all shape our money story and give us the anecdotes we use to build it.
These beliefs lead us to shape our lives through the repetition of the narrative we’ve created.
And yet, the more aware we are of our money story, the more capable we are of changing it.
Just because your money story is set, doesn’t mean you can’t rewrite it.
How To Make Your Money Story Happy Ever After
It’s very easy to think you’re stuck with your money story. That it is what it is and there’s no changing it. But the beautiful thing about stories is that there’s always room for more.
A new chapter, the start of a new book, or an epilogue that totally changes the ending.
One of the most famous money narratives is the Rags to Riches archetype, a story typified by Cinderella, but present in so many stories the world over. From Slumdog Millionaire and Rocky, to Forest Gump, The Pursuit of Happyness, Catch Me If You Can, The Wolf of Wallstreet, and Citizen Cane, they all follow the same simple narrative.
It’s not limited to the core plot of stories either, there are plenty of characters on Rags to Riches journeys within the context of a much larger narrative. Whether it’s Daenerys Targaryen conquering the seven kingdoms or Olivia Pope besting the men of Washington D.C., the Rags to Riches archetype is everywhere.
So what is it about, this narrative that’s so powerful, so compelling?
Really, it’s two-fold:
- The notion that anyone, from anywhere, can become successful and attain the life of their dreams if only they can find it in themselves to step into their own power, own their own destiny, and go for it.
- The happy ending.
The only time a Rags to Riches narrative doesn’t end in success is if it’s told within the wider context of a tragedy, or the story is intended as a cautionary tale. Even in the case of cautionary tales, the protagonist often gets a happy ending once they learn their lesson (think Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol).
Changing your money story so that it has that built-in possibility for success, and the pre-written happy ending is the key to making a huge shift in your money mindset and creating the life of success you want.
What’s Your Current Money Story?
A lot of entrepreneurs strongly relate to the Rags to Riches archetype because it is the dream we all share: the ability to take our own raw skills, talents, and dreams, and transform them into success.
We all want this to be our money story, but aspiring to a Rags to Riches story isn’t the same as actually having one.
Before you can effectively shift your money story to ensure you get the success you want and that happy ever after ending, you need to be aware of what your current money story truly is.
There are three simple steps you can take to help you do this, and I’ve created a FREE Money Story Workbook that will walk you through figuring out your current money story, and the new story you want to create.
Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Your Words
When it comes right down to it, stories are nothing more than a collection of words.
Even individually, words can be incredibly powerful – just think of the way we feel at the utterance of simple words like hero, magic, love, and power, and you’ll quickly see what I mean.
So the words you use when telling your money story are really crucial.
Every single one of them.
Most people don’t actually stop and think really hard about their word choices unless they happen to be a writer. They use the first word that occurs to them, or the word they most often hear used to describe something.
Yet, a poor word choice can have a significant impact on your money story, and the way you feel about money in general.
For example, I avoid using the word ‘budget’ whenever possible because it has so many negative connotations. Instead I say things like ‘money plan’ or ‘money strategy’.
It’s true that sticking to a ‘budget’ is good money management and the extent of your budget isn’t necessarily limited – it’s entirely dependent upon your circumstance and goals. Yet the word nevertheless conjure images of scraping by, of making do, of poverty.
The richest people in the world can still have a budget, and yet the word still carries that negative stigma.
Other words like ‘debt’ have a similar negative connotation.
Take a look at the specific words you’re using in the money story you’re telling yourself. Do any of them have negative connotations? Can you replace them with a more positive word or phrase?
Simply putting a more positive spin on a word in your existing money story can really shift your perspective from negative to positive. This is probably the easiest way to change your money story and money mindset, because you’re not having to change what you think, simply shift the way you think it.
Change Your Role In The Story
Take another look at that money story you’re constantly telling yourself and consider this:
What role do you play in your money narrative?
Are you the hero? Or are you the victim?
One easy way to tell is to look at the action taking place in your thoughts around money and consider if you view yourself as losing something, or having something taken from you, or whether you’re looking at yourself as someone who earns things, achieves things, wins things, and is given great gifts.
Another way to look at it is to ask if you’re active or passive in your money story.
Consider these two sentiments:
“Nobody will pay me what I’m worth!”
“I need to work on my self-worth so I have have the confidence to charge what I’m worth!”
In both these situations the problem is the same – you feel your not earning as much as your skills deserve. But in the first situation, all the power is with your clients – they are ‘refusing’ to pay you what you’re worthy of receiving.
The second scenario gives you all the power – you know your worth, and know you should be charging it, you’re simply lacking the confidence to do it. You’re aware of this, and have a plan to fix it.
Notice there is no mention of whether people will pay you what you’re worth or not, the implicit assumption is that the only reason you don’t receive what you’re truly worth of is because you don’t ask for it.
Which means the only thing you need to do is find your voice, improve your confidence and self-worth, and ask!
One scenario paints you as a victim, coming from a place of lack in which success is withheld by an unfair world. The other paints you as a self-aware individual on the cusp of heroism – you know what you have to do to achieve success, all you need to do is take the next step, maintain a success mindset, and charge what you’re worth.
Whatever your current role in your money story is, you can change it!
Characters evolve, they grow, just as people do. Playing the victim doesn’t prevent you from becoming the hero. In fact, it’s practically mandatory for the protagonist in a Rags to Riches narrative to start out as the underdog.
Cinderella begins as a victim who, through the course of the narrative, finds herself and transforms into an empowered heroine. Take another look at your money story and consider your role and how you can shift it fr