Shut Up, Brain!

“Well, I guess we’ll get there someday…maybe, haha. Until then, we’ve got the small things”

That was how my longtime girlfriend finished our conversation about some of the things we’re currently working towards; none of which are particularly exciting or exotic. In fact, most people have similar goals on the surface but dig deeper and they become uniquely ours for unique reasons. We hit some of the standards in this conversation: travelling more, being better at our jobs, home improvements. She won’t quite admit it, but she’d like to murder our current mattress!

When we have these conversations with our significant others, or maybe with ourselves in our own head (guilty!), the things can stack up very quickly. Hell, it can be damn overwhelming sometimes! You ever feel that?

So, when she finished with the subdued, ever so slightly anxiety-laced “we’ve got the small things”, it got me thinking.

See it’s my job to help people push towards financial improvement. For most of the young professionals I work with, individuals 40 and under, those improvements generally culminate in what I’ve taken to calling “The Square”:

Now, this is a good summation of common wants, but as I mentioned earlier, if you start breaking down each side, the square becomes the person’s own. Within each category, they have unique motivations and unique solutions.

As with most things that are simple on the surface, once I get under the hood and start working with a client on building their personal “square”, it would be real easy for them to feel like they’re drowning in details. It’s on me to try and stop that, and one way is by creating bite size, step by step progressions and achievements.

Even with all that work putting barriers in place, that overwhelming feeling, it will still occasionally creep in! It happens to me on a non-rare basis:

“How can I continue to improve at what I do? Am I focusing on the right areas? Are the things I want even attainable?” Blah, etc., blah.

These moments, for me, are helpful because they help me to continue to evaluate and move forward. That said, they can only last so long before a person has to say, “F you brain! Shut up now, please”.

One of the best ways to help quiet down the anxiety-inducing thoughts is to remind yourself of how far you’ve come already. For my clients, it’s looking at how much more you’ve got saved and are saving than when we started. Or, the fact that you’ve already knocked out half your debt!

For the conversation with my girlfriend, it was focusing on how awesome it is that we both have jobs we actually care about improving at! And yeah, we want to travel more, but we’ve already been to some amazing places so far.

Although we may feel a bout of anxiety over things like an emergency expense, a job change, or lack of x, y, or z, it doesn’t change the fact that we’ve made great progress.

Time and energy are our most valuable assets. Just like our other assets, we can choose how we invest them – our anxieties, or our progress.

So, what about you? Your financial life got you feeling a little anxious? Let’s figure it out together!