Much too often we have an “all or none” perspective about things. Money is one of those places. We spend it or save it. We hoard or bet it all. We miss the all-important middle. Working with a client the other day we hit upon another one of those extremes: Protective vs effective actions. In this money knot we either feel frozen in trying to protect what we have or create ineffective actions that leave us spinning wildly.
A good definition of protective is: “having or showing a strong wish to keep safe from harm.” When we are being protective we are being cautious. There is, of course, value in being thoughtful and deliberate. There is value in considering how to use your money in ways that align with what’s important to you. This cautiousness gets to be a challenge when it goes too far. Most of us remember some of the typical oddities about the way our “depression era survivor” grandparents behaved around money. There are funny stories about basements with giant balls of saved scraps of tin foil (aluminum foil of the 30’s) and plastic margarine tubs by the dozen. The idea was “Waste not, want not.” Be careful. Who knows what may happen, what disaster may befall us. This behavior often went from being careful to the extreme of never actually recognizing that things got better and that they really didn’t need to “scrimp and save” for ever more. Unfortunately, this protective nature gets really hard to even partially let go of.
Let’s look at the other word, effective. It’s all about producing a desired result; solving a problem. It actually requires action, lots of action. The words thoughtful and deliberate come up here too, don’t they? But in a different way than with protection. We want an investment to be effective and make money for us, don’t we? We try new ways of making money. We hopefully lean on our talents to earn a living in a way that is more easy than arduous. Being effective is all about trying different ways of doing things. Somehow it relates to trial and error and experimentation. Figure out what works and what doesn’t. Finding the way that gets the best results and perhaps even “more bang, for our buck”. This works best when we are clear and intentional about our actions.
These two words can be and often are on opposing sides. The protective side doesn’t want to risk something by acting. Or the effective side may be so “gung ho” as to risk too much.
Here’s the deal: this is not an either/or situation. It, like most things around money, will benefit from an application of both. You do better by being protective and effective at the same time. Find the middle. Combine the best of both money strategies.
Whichever one you tend to lean towards more, challenge yourself to “swing” out a bit and try the other one. See what happens when you purposely pull yourself more toward the middle. Money is really about the middle. It swims toward us and away from us. We earn it and spend it. We give it and get it. For it to work, and for you to do well with money, you need to find your personal balance between the extremes: between being protective and being effective.
I’m here to help you untangle all your money knots. Just give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com
Shell Tain, The Untangler