Blog | Personal development

Fighting and Facing Fear for Financial Freedom

How do some people successfully overcome their fears while others let their fears get the best of them? Here are some practical ways to face your fears and follow your convictions.

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A study quoted in the Daily Mail of 2000 adults, conducted by Seddons Law Practice in the U.K., found that of the women surveyed, 59% said they would divorce immediately if they had the financial means to do so. And the survey respondents also indicated that, “overall, 12 per cent said they were in a loveless relationship and more than a third (35 per cent) believed their marriage would turn stale in the near future.”

Now, I am not recommending divorce for anyone. The point I’m making is that too many women, all over the world, stay in unhealthy marriages because they fear they will not be able to take care of themselves financially on their own. That is disturbing.

The key to overcome this fear is to begin educating yourselves about money. Getting a financial education is not difficult. It just takes time and some effort. It is very doable. For me, I would rather be broke temporarily than miserable for a lifetime.

If you are fearful of divorce, increase your financial education.

The world needs more women leaders and leadership takes courage.

Courage is the result of facing your fears. Whether you are a leader in your family, your community, or your country, you will likely face situations in which you’ll stare fear in the face, and it will test your courage and your strength.

It wouldn’t be courage if you weren’t scared.

So, what fuels our fears? What I’ve found is that, for many women, it’s a fear of the consequences, the outcome. The outcome of our actions is almost always unknown and its human nature to imagine the worst-case scenarios…and be fearful.

I believe most of us know what we need to do. The question is: Do we have the courage to accept the consequences?

While the (real or imagined) consequences are different for every woman, some of the consequences I see women avoiding in their lives are:

  • fear of a fight with a spouse or loved one
  • fear of alienating yourself from friends
  • fear of being broke
  • fear of making a mistake
  • fear of being alone

Why following conviction means facing consequences

Cathi is a bright, successful entrepreneur. She’s owned her own PR (public relations) company for 17 years. We were talking about investments one day, and she told me, “My husband and I are pretty conservative when it comes to our investments. We have mutual funds, some stock shares, and we each have our own managed retirement plan.”

She went on, “I like to do my homework. So, I began learning about investments that seem to deliver a better return than we were currently getting. After looking at several options, I decided I wanted to invest in a specific real estate project that was presented to me. I know the people who are putting the project together, and their investors are extremely happy with them. I weighed all the pros and cons of the project, and I’ve made up my mind that this is the investment for me.”

Cathi’s bold plan was to pull her money out of her retirement plan, which had gone down about 30 percent in value the previous year, and to put the money into the real estate project, which was on track to deliver a 10- to 12-percent return.

Cathi confessed, “There’s just one problem. My husband, Jack, is going to look at this investment and immediately sum it up as ‘too risky.’ There’s going to be a fight." Cathi was hesitant about this, but after further conversation, it was clear that she was willing to fight for her conviction that this was the right financial move for her.

Later, she told me how her discussion with Jack went. “I just stood there waiting for Jack to erupt," she said. "But instead, he looked up at me from his desk and said with skepticism, ‘Okay, if that’s what you want to do.’ I just about fell over. All that fear and worry, preparing for a big fight… and none of it happened. I almost didn’t go through with it because I hated the thought of a fight. But what made all the difference for me was that I was willing to have the fight if I had to.”

Truth or consequences

Oftentimes we get so wrapped up in imagining the worst possible consequence and convincing ourselves that the worst will happen, so we do nothing. The reality is that the worst-case scenario very rarely plays out.

For you to be willing to accept the consequences of whatever stand you take, there must be something more important to you than the potentially dire consequences. There must be something more important to you than what you fear. For many women, what’s more important is our self-esteem, standing up for what we believe in, and being true to ourselves.

Ultimately, what I'm saying is that the strongest women are women of conviction. They don't embrace conflict, but they're willing to face the consequences of following what they know is right. They don't want to fight, but they're not afraid to fight either.

Today, I encourage you to follow your convictions, come hell or high water. And that starts with understanding that every decision we make will have consequences, financially and interpersonally. But there's nothing worse than living with others when you can't live with yourself. Choose for you and let others decide if they want to come along for the ride.

Practical steps to facing our fears, head on.

Years ago, I participated in an outdoors survival course that was all about handling fear. One of the exercises required me to climb to the top of a wooden pole, similar to a telephone pole, stand on top of it without using my hands, and then leap out and grab onto a trapeze hanging freely in the air.

I thought the scariest part would be the jump - not so. As I climbed the pole, grabbing and stepping up on each rung, I thought to myself, “This isn’t so bad.” That was until I got to the top. There, the only place for my hands to go was on the top, flat surface of the pole that measured maybe twelve inches in diameter.

Terror struck. I had two hands on the top of the pole and my feet were on the two rungs below. The scariest step of the entire exercise was, with no hands, taking my foot off the top rung and stepping on top of the pole. I was paralyzed. After what seemed like an eternity glued in that one position, the instructor finally called up to me, “What’s happening?”

“I’m afraid to move!”

“This is not about getting rid of your fear,” he said. “It’s about learning to manage your fear when it comes up. Just take the next step.”

From there, finishing the exercise wasn’t easy, but I kept reminding myself to just take the next step. When I got to the bottom, my instructor walked over to me and said, “Did you get the lesson?”

We all have fears

In my experience, the difference between successful investors and average ones is the ability to overcome fear—to simply take that next step.

The reality is that we all have fears. When it comes to investing, we’re often stepping into the unknown. We may not have the experience. We certainly don’t have all the answers. No investor does. So, the learning curve is steep. The probability of making mistakes is high and we’re playing with real money, which always adds a bit of drama.

Fear can come in many forms. It could be the fear of losing money or of making mistakes. One of the greatest fears for women is the fear of ending up as a bag lady on the streets, broke and homeless.

Whatever your fear, if it’s there, admit it. Own it.

What’s your next step?

One way to reduce the fear, of course, is through education and experience—the process of taking the next step.

The more you learn and know about a certain investment, the more confident you will be with your decisions. The more investments you own, the more self-assured and knowledgeable you will become. Fear will play a smaller role with every investment.

Today, you may be at a top-of-the-pole moment. You may be paralyzed with fear wondering if you can get on top of that pole and jump into the unknown. Now is the time for your next step. Will you move forward, or will you retreat?

Today is the day for you to take your next step. Today is your day to turn your fear into an asset.

Take advantage of these Free Rich Dad tools.

Original publish date: July 24, 2014

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