Blog | Personal Finance

Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs

Your personal bias can determine what you achieve, so it’s time to stop the self-sabotage. Start with this quiz.

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A while back, Robert and I spent a week at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. Canyon Ranch is a well-known, holistic health-and-fitness resort. We went there to recharge our bodies and spirits.

While I went to the resort to learn about ways to improve my health and fitness, I picked up an unexpected, yet valuable life lesson about self-limiting beliefs.

We all have a personal bias

In working with a fitness expert one day, he asked me about my eating habits. I told him I typically eat two meals a day: breakfast or lunch, and dinner. I explained that sometimes I’ll look at my watch, see it’s 6:00 p.m., and realize that I haven’t eaten anything all day.

“Eating just is not a high priority for me,” I said.

He looked at me a little disapprovingly and said, “You need to eat three meals a day.”

Of course, I’ve heard this before. “My belief is, if I eat three meals every day, I’ll gain a lot of weight,” I countered.

He laughed. “You need to eat more in the day when you’re active, like in the morning and early afternoon, and then eat less at dinner when you’re less active in the evening,” he replied.

Since I’m a pretty active person, he went on to explain that if I don’t eat enough, then instead of my body burning fat, it will burn muscle — and I’ll never reach the level of fitness that I could if I was giving myself proper fuel and nutrition.

I was still fighting my belief, a bias, that three meals a day will only put on the pounds. But since I was at Canyon Ranch for my health, I figured I might as well give it a shot. And now that my limiting beliefs were pointed out to me, I was determined to see if I could move past them.

Listen to the expert

For seven days, I faithfully showed up at the dining room three times a day. I didn’t scrimp, by any means. I ate three full meals each day.

One thing I noticed right away was that my energy was better. I was less grumpy in the mornings, and I had more vitality throughout the day. I stuck with the program and, at the end of seven days, not only did I not gain weight, I actually lost a couple of pounds. I was blown away by the results.

Listening to the expert rather than to my own bias helped me achieve goals I never would have achieved on my own.

Bad beliefs = bad results

The point of this story is that I had a personal bias that actually hindered me from making progress and achieving my health goals.

Although I have heard since I was a young girl that I should eat three meals a day, I never believed that the benefits were real. I had the information, but it wasn’t until I actually applied it — and ate the three meals a day consistently — that I had the experience and the true knowledge of what worked best for me.

Obviously, this simple truth can be applied to any situation in our lives. So, the question for you is: “Which beliefs are holding you back from achieving your goals, and what are you going to do about it?”

The quicker and more often you apply what you’re learning, the faster the results and your understanding of what works best for you when it comes to money and your investing style.

4 common beliefs holding women back from financial success

As women, we hold onto a wide of array of beliefs that don’t serve our greater good — some of this stems from our childhoods and the way we were brought up, while other limiting beliefs have come from outside influences, such as relationships, bosses or friends. But since we’re all adults and have to take responsibility for our thoughts and actions, I’m going to tell it to you straight: while these limiting beliefs may have come from another source, it’s our own insecurities, fears and stubbornness that keep perpetuating them.

Most of the time, we don’t even realize we have these “bad” beliefs that are preventing us from living the life we want — they are so engrained in our minds, hearts and souls that we aren’t aware of how detrimental they are.

Why is this so problematic? Because a lot of these beliefs tie back to our careers, finances, and independence. They prevent us from making positive changes in our lives, changes that could improve our future. Time and time again, I hear women blurt out the following beliefs without batting an eye or stopping to think about their ramifications:

  1. I need a steady job with a paycheck I can count on.

    Reality check: What is job security, really? If you’re an employee, you’re working for someone else who sets your hours, controls the purse strings on raises, decides when you’ve earned a promotion, determines how much time off you receive, and can fire you at any time. There’s nothing truly “steady” about being at the mercy of a corporation — and if the business folds or they go through a round of layoffs or fire you, there goes that steady paycheck you though you could rely on. Then what? I’m not saying entrepreneurship is the answer for everyone, because it’s not. But what are you doing today to ensure cash will still flow into your bank account should your job go away tomorrow? Consider one of these five ways to start a business without quitting your job to test the waters and create some cash flow that you control.

  2. I don’t understand finances and numbers.

    Reality check: I truly believe so many women have been brainwashed into thinking that we are not good with numbers. Gender stereotypes beginning in grade school pushed girls toward reading and writing, while steering boys toward math and science. The problem with this scenario is that money is a life skill. Money and finance are all about numbers — they tell us how well we are managing our household, running our business or career, and investing our money. If you intend to be financially fit and achieve financial independence, then you’ve got to become very comfortable with numbers. And it doesn’t even need to be complicated — you just need to know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide. There’s no reason to feel stressed or overwhelmed by the process. The more exposure you have to these numbers, the more comfortable you will become finding and using them.

  3. My husband doesn’t want to invest, so I’m stuck.

    Reality check: Obviously, investing as a team would be the most ideal scenario. As the saying goes, two heads are better than one. However, it’s not the only option. If you can’t get his blessing or support, then you may have to go it alone. I realize this is not an easy position to be in. You’re not only stepping out into a whole new world, but you’re doing it without the support of the number one person in your life. So I won’t pretend and say it’s a piece of cake; it’s not. Yet, over time, once you have some success and viable results, your partner may turnaround and become your greatest supporter. It’s women in this situation, and there are many of them, that more than ever depend upon the support from other people around them, ideally other investors. This is where a women’s investing group could prove invaluable, as can joining investment clubs and organizations. If you are in this situation, surround yourself with people who have similar goals and ambitions as you have.

  4. I’m ready to start investing, but don’t have the money.

    Reality check: For every business that my husband, Robert, and I have started, we had no money. There’s this idea that you have to have a lot of money to build a business or you have to have a lot of money to invest. I don’t subscribe to that. Border’s bookstore started in a garage. Steve Jobs started Apple in a garage. Neither of those companies was highly financed. My very first investment was a little two-bedroom, two-bath house in Portland, Oregon. I needed a $5,000 down payment and I didn’t have it — but I found a way to get it. The one thing I’d say about investing, especially real estate investing, is to find the investment first because then it’s a tangible thing. Otherwise, it’s just talk. Once you find the investment, it becomes real to you. Then you can figure out how to find the money — start by reading chapter 18 (A Recipe for Raising Capital) in my book, It’s Rising Time.

Stop the self-sabotage

So here’s the million-dollar question: Are you feeling ready to stop sabotaging yourself with your own thoughts and actions? Are you ready to stop getting in your own way of success? Here are a few more ways we do that that don’t directly center around finances (though they are, in the long run, determinantal to your earnings potential):

  1. Comfort zone. Our critical inner voice likes to keep us in a nice, safe box. Our brains view this as self-preservation, because it wants to protect us from feeling vulnerable, making a mistake, being judged or being disappointed. That critical inner voice may say “you aren’t worthy” or “that’s too much work,” or “what’s another slice of pizza gonna matter at this point?” You may be so programmed to listen to that voice that you’ve even started to believe it.

  2. Negative self-image. Whether this is leftover from a tough childhood, a painful divorce, a harsh boss or self-inflicted, your inner critic is so familiar to you that you don’t even stop to challenge it. We get stuck in patterns and then base our whole lives around those parameters because that’s what we are used to. The defenses we put up to protect us only limit our lives and our potential.

  3. Fear. In almost everything you do in life, you either act out of fear (ego) or love. Fear is the energy that causes us to shut down, hide and silently suffer. Love is the energy that pushes, heals and allows us to open up. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of rejection and fear of judgment often holds us back. But if you don't fight through that very same fear then you’ll never know what you are capable of.

The self-sabotage test

Now, do any of these classic self-sabotage situations sound familiar? If so, I’d like for you to humor me and take a few moments to do this quick exercise in creativity and overcoming assumptions:

Step 1: Divide a piece of paper into three columns.

Step 2: In the first column, brainstorm a list of all the things you’d do, if only they were possible.

Step 3: Then in the second column, next to each “want,” write the obstacle that makes it “impossible.”

Step 4: Then in the third column, brainstorm a list of ways to get around these obstacles. As you’re doing this, remember: You don’t have to limit your solutions to things you can do personally—think of ways to leverage the abilities of others!

Step 5: Now, look at your list. What did you come up with? Do some of these situations now seem less “impossible?”

I’m here to tell you that we are more resilient than we think. Don’t let your own fear, negative self-criticism or comfort zone keep you down. Sure, you may try something new and fail. But I firmly believe we will never regret the things we’ve done, only the things we never tried.

Doing the impossible

And now that you’re more aware of this phenomenon, keep your ears open to instances when other people say things like, “If only I could…”, or “That’s impossible…”, or “I can’t because…”. When you hear these sorts of comments, ask yourself, “What could solve this person’s problems? How could a business be built around solving this problem for people?”

You may discover a great business idea or opportunity that you can leverage into wealth. At the very least, it will get your mind in the habit of thinking like an entrepreneur.

Now is the time for you to shed your limiting beliefs and be honest with yourself about what’s holding you back from achieving your dreams. It may not be easy to identify or admit some of your self-sabotaging thoughts, but it’s a crucial step to help you move forward. Once you’ve become clear on the thoughts that contribute to your personal bias, replace them with new, positive beliefs that will propel you into the next phase of your life.

Original publish date: July 02, 2015

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