Category Archives: Untangling Ideas

First Things First

When it comes to untangling our myriad of personal money knots, it seems to me there is an essential concept that is missing.  It’s about putting first things first.

Do you have some challenges with money?   Around 97% of us do.  There are bunches and bunches of problems people have with money.  Although there are many, many variations, it mostly it comes down to:

  • Not having as much as we want.
  • Not knowing how to manage it.
  • Spending more that we make.

In other words we realize that something isn’t working for us around money.  And whatever we have decided the missing piece is, we then seek to ‘fix’ it directly.  We try to make more.  We take a class on budgeting.  We set rules around spending.  All that sounds like a great idea… and yet, it doesn’t work, does it?

It’s actually pointing to a much bigger issue, one that I discovered long ago in ‘Corporate Land’.  In my day as a Controller/CFO, the ‘rule’ was to not bring up a problem unless you had a solution.  Sounds good, but there is a big trap in there.

The trap is that you end up ‘fixing’ things that aren’t the actual problem, and thus actually creating more problems.

Huh?  Well in business the fix is usually a form or a procedure, and if it doesn’t address the real underlying issue, it just makes for more bureaucracy and fiddly irritation, right?  I finally learned that the longer process of actually discussing the issue came up with much more effective solutions!

So let’s go visit a hypothetical married couple and see what’s happening in the money tangle of their marriage.  For grins lets say that he keeps a budget to the penny and is watching money all the time, and that she never looks at it and spends it on things that make her feel good.  They fit the criteria we had above — not having enough, not managing it well, and spending too much.  I’m guessing you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that talking about money is less than fun for them? It’s pretty messy and challenging, right?

So what solutions do they try?  My guess is all sorts of things that are based on changing the behavior without actually understanding what caused it in the first place.  They get into a push-me/pull-you power game that doesn’t take into consideration the ‘Why’ under the behavior.

And yes, I’m back to my concept that we all have 5-year-olds running our money:

  • Because it is the most taboo topic on the planet
  • Because no one talks about how to actually deal with it
  • Because we make up ways to manage it that make sense to our little kid brain
  • Because we then leave the little kid part of us in charge so we don’t have to deal with it

And so I come back to ‘First Things First’.  No budget or plan will work until you understand what your little kid part decided about money.  No lecture or personal rant from yourself or your spouse will help until you dig deep and find out what you made up about money.

By what you ‘made up’ I mean conclusions that you came to, most likely as a child, about money.  Let me give you some actual examples of conclusions clients have shared with me:

  • Money ruins families
  • Money was the only way my family showed affection
  • Money was the only criteria for success in my family
  • My family believed money was bad and evil

Are there all sorts of wonderful ways to manage and handle your money more effectively?  Absolutely!  I have, use, and share a bunch of them—and they don’t help at all until you’ve untangled the underlying knot.  Until you’ve addressed the likely ineffective thinking you’ve been operating under for years.

Please give yourself the gift of addressing first things first before you leap into the action steps!  The results will be much more effective, truly!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d like some help in untangling that really old hidden money knot in your head, just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.

“Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees”

Money doesn't grown on trees… but it can grow!We’ve all heard that one, haven’t we?  It’s an example of a money belief—an idea that we have about money.  We all have beliefs around money, yet somehow we don’t actually try to untangle them. We shy away from looking at the beliefs.

Instead we tend to try some method of crunching numbers or budgeting.  We put money in envelopes, we watch our spending on our cell phones.  Some even play with my handy dandy “GOSH” model.  (Which by the way is very cool and useful!)

And here’s the truth:  None of that really works until you figure out what your money beliefs are, and if you want to keep them!  Your money behavior is driven by your money beliefs.

You will create and perpetuate your beliefs around money.  You just will!  Frankly we do that with all our beliefs.  We find the information that supports them, and we ignore the information that refutes them.  It’s part of all that lovely pattern making that goes on in our heads.

Of course, with money it’s more complex than with other things because of that whole money being a taboo topic thing!  Since we don’t talk with others  or even ourselves about our money beliefs that just keep influencing our choices over and over.

Which of these have you ever heard, thought or found yourself believing?

  • Money doesn’t grow on trees.
  • You’ll have to work really hard and you’ll still never make any money.
  • There is never enough!
  • Rich people aren’t as nice as poor people.
  • Money is the root of all evil.
  • I am not good with money.
  • I can’t do math, so I can’t do money.
  • I feel like I must have been out sick the day they actually explained money.
  • Having debt means I’m a bad person.

Those are just some of the most common ones.  There are no doubt thousands of possible money beliefs that will hinder or hold back your effectiveness with the stuff.

And just to be clear, I’m not talking about how much of it you have, I’m talking about what is your relationship with money?  Do you see it as a tool and ally, or as an enemy?

What do you make up about money?  Really, what do you make up about money?  Make a list!  Now look at each one of those beliefs and ask yourself a couple of questions, like:

  • Is this really true?  Like 100% of the time TRUE?
  • Is this my belief?  Or is it my family’s belief?  Or even, is it my cultures belief?
  • What might be different if I changed this belief?

That’s one of the cool things about beliefs: we can change them.  It takes noticing that you want to change the belief.  Then it takes both patience and maybe even humor to work on changing it.

One of my favorite ways to accomplish the change in beliefs is to throw in another option every time I hear myself either thinking or saying the belief.  It works like this: You follow the belief statement with something like, “…except when it’s not!”  (Examples:  Money’s hard to come by… except when it’s not.  Rich people aren’t as nice as poor people… except when they are!)

So ‘Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees‘ — except it can grow.  It can be different.  And you can do better with it.  It all starts with choosing how you want to think about it.  As humans we are really committed to proving our beliefs.  We see it all the time.  So figure out what your beliefs are, and, if continuing to prove your current beliefs to be true actually makes your life worse, try understanding and re-framing the belief.

Just imagine how much easier all this money stuff would be if you had some positive thoughts about it!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d like to play with this belief changing idea more, just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.

Misplaced Loyalty

Loyalty can be a truly wonderful thing—on both the giving and receiving side—and like most things, being loyal can lead to some negative results.  The misplaced loyalty knot I’d like to talk about is all tangled up with biology and anthropology.

It starts before we are born.  On the biology side it really stems from those big brains we have—or rather how much more growing they need to do after we are born.  We have to be cared for by the parent for a much longer time compared to many other species.  It’s not just about walking and talking, it’s also about the complexity of human society.  We need to learn how to communicate and behave.  All very complex things going on in a brain that isn’t really ‘grown’ until early adulthood—despite our strong teenage opinions!

We have tons of things to learn, and we learn those things from our parents.  To make that learning more effective we are biologically hard-wired to be loyal to the parent.   We take whatever they say or do as the “gospel truth” when we are little.  We HAVE to!  They are our protection from danger, our source of food, and our primary source of knowledge.  We absolutely cannot afford to piss them off—they might abandon us!  And if they did that, we would die.  That is as true for us today as it was when we humans were hunter/gatherers long ago.

That hard-wired loyalty has a bit of a dark side though.  When it comes to money it gets messy.  And around money, all that loyalty creates huge problems for generation after generation.  It’s that thing where we don’t talk about money since it’s so taboo!  We learn about money without any actual training,  by observation only and thus we absorb and create many odd ideas.  Not only are the ideas a bit strange but they are hidden—we aren’t conscious of them.

This misplaced loyalty creates a bunch of strange results:

  • If your parents fought about money you will likely fight with your spouse about money.
  • If your parents fought about money you may very well decide that money is evil and bad, and make sure to have as little of it as possible.
  • Women will often unconsciously make sure they do not make more money than they perceived their fathers did as some kind of loyalty.
  • Perhaps the only way your parents expressed affection was with money, so that’s the currency for you to give or receive affection.

On and on it goes, and we don’t actually consciously recognize we are caught in these old familial traps around money because they somehow just “are”—they are so ingrained in our brains we have never ventured to distinguish and analyze them.

That is exactly what I would invite you to do!  Spend some time thinking about—maybe even journaling—about you and your money.   Do some digging.  See how what you are doing with money relates to how your family handled and talked about it.  You’ll find that you are doing something very similar to what you perceived your parents did, or you are doing the opposite of what they did.  The ‘perceived‘ word is in there because the topic is so taboo you probably don’t know what they actually did with money  You only know how you percieved what you saw and heard around money.

It’s a knot well worth untangling because this misplaced loyalty has been influencing your relationship with money all your life.  If you look more closely at it you can then make a choice to keep it or change it.  That’s the problem with taboo things that never get discussed.  We don’t even recognize we are caught in them, let alone that we have a choice.   Give yourself the choice!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d like some support understanding how this loyalty piece played out in your family, just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.

Humans as Pattern Makers

We humans are particularly adept pattern makers — it’s one of our most effective survival methods — except when it’s not.

Long ago I was an Anthropology major, and one of the things we learned about ‘us‘ is that we are pattern makers.   We tie things together in patterns or ‘baskets’ in our brains so we can lump similar things together. It’s pretty effective in lots of ways.  It helps us focus on the task at hand and ignore other things that might distract us.  It can serve to keep us safe too.

There are places where this type of learning gets a bit quirky, and others where it can be dangerous.  I’ll go quirky first — you kinda knew I would, right?

For many years I sat on a ball chair, you know, sort of like the inflatable Swiss ball things at the gym.  I like them, they are more comfortable to me, especially when sitting for a long time.  It’s something about always adjusting a wee bit to keep your balance and minimize stiffness. However, this is not actually a plug for the ball chair.  It’s an intriguing look inside my brain, oh and my cat’s brain, too.

For years I had been using a little technique to get my own attention.  If there was something important for me to do the next day, or after lunch, or even after I went to the Ladies, I would place the piece of  paper about that on my chair.  That way I would see it or at least notice it when I sat on it!  Great plan.  I had it as a pattern in my brain.  This worked really well until I got the ball chair.  It was pretty funny how long it took me to figure out that paper was going to slide off the ball.  Hmm… ball was something I sat on so it went into the ‘chair’ pattern place in my head, however: ball is round, chair is flat… You can see the problem.

Apparently primates aren’t the only pattern makers.  At that time, Agate — the kitty — was used to jumping up on my desk via the chair.  It only took one time for her to learn that balls, even ones I sat on, are round, unlike chairs.  Neither of us were pleased about this learning experience. She lost some dignity — which if you have a cat, you know “simply isn’t amusing!” — and I had to replace the ball because her claws let out the air.

For both of us the learning was something like, just because different things have some elements in common, they do not always create the same results.

Now for the dangerous part: where we lump together things about people and experiences but using the faulty logic created by our intrinsic pattern making.  Here is an example of that.  I was dating a guy named Gary in high school, who was a Taurus.  My parents had a friend named Alan who was also a Taurus.  Additionally Alan also smoked weed.  My mother wanted me to stop seeing Gary because obviously Gary would smoke weed because he, like Alan, was a Taurus.  (Kinda not — Gary really was a mid-western “rule follower”… no weed.)

Now I grant you this association was wacky reasoning, and yet we tend to do it all over the place, don’t we? It’s the fundamental problem with many conclusions we come to especially around relationships, both personal and professional.  For another example let’s look at Jeff. Jeff was a young, studly programmer I worked with in a start up.  He had just broken up with his girl friend and was getting some counseling.   We talked about it over lunch and I asked him what conclusions he had come to?  He said that he’d decided to no longer date blonds.  Really?  Can you see how the pattern making part of his brain was narrowing on something that probably wasn’t really the issue?

So think about where in your life you might be applying this useful — but imperfect — pattern making logic.  Can you find of any of your own associations that might not really be logical?  Most of us can find at least one time when we applied a pattern thought  extension to the wrong thing.

I’m not suggesting that you just forge ahead and ignore the signal of familiarity with a pattern.  Instead I’m asking you to dig a bit deeper, and see which patterns to apply where.  And there is a really simple solution for how to check out where you are applying old patterns that don’t fit, or are not applicable.  See how it’s different this time.  Spend a bit of time considering what fits the pattern and what doesn’t.  Notice when you are avoiding a new possibility by being overly cautious.  Also, notice if the hair on the back of your neck stands up and tells you to avoid the situation altogether.  It’s all good information.   Basically, check to make sure that there isn’t a baby in the bathwater you are throwing out!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d like to chat more about your own pattern making, just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.

Other People’s Money… Knots

This week I have invited my friend, Arthur Breur, to be a ‘guest blogger’.  He came up against a very interesting “money knot” while asking for contributions to support an overture he composed for the Tualatin Valley Symphony.  And it you want to come see its debut performance here’s where to get your tickets for the May 21st, 7:00 p.m. concert. Take it away, Arthur!

Tualatin Overture by Arthur BreurI recently experienced an interesting “money knot” situation that Shell and I thought you might find value in.

First, a little bit of my own history.

I have composed music my entire life, and I consider it my best talent and skill. But I have never worked “full time” as a composer. I have worked in print, graphic design, and website design, and many years ago started my own “multimedia” business that currently focuses on web development.

Around my 40th birthday, as many people do, I started to think about my life and what I really wanted to accomplish. Where had my dreams gone of composing? I still thought of myself as being a composer, but I had barely composed anything for years.

I pulled out the old sheet music from my various compositions, in every state of completion, and started working on them again. That was about nine years ago, and in those nine years I have easily composed as much music as I had over the twenty-some years before that.

A few years ago, I took these efforts one step farther and joined the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce as a composer. I have always made sure my company belonged to the local chamber, but I wanted to make it official that I was now also “in the business” of composing music.  It was a first step toward getting paid for writing music, and therefore being considered as a “professional” composer!

Then, through an event put on by the Chamber of Commerce I was introduced to the Tualatin Valley Symphony. That’s right: a symphony orchestra performs practically in my own back yard! Well, to make what could be a very long story very short, in late October 2016, I met the orchestra’s Conductor & Music Director, Mark Perlman, and he offered that if I composed a piece for the orchestra’s May 2017 concert, they would perform it—which was the moment of inception for my new work, the Tualatin Overture.  Through all this  I was deftly stepping over the idea of my composing actually generating income!

Enter the Chamber of Commerce “AM Networking” events.

When I first conceived of the Tualatin Overture, I did not spend any time imagining that it was a commission. It was an offer from the conductor of a non-profit community orchestra to perform a work, but it was not the offer to pay me for it. I was eager to create a piece of music that would be performed by an orchestra, and I strategically planned that it would be something I did for the City of Tualatin, hoping that doing so might give the work extra “legs” beyond a single performance—but I was not expecting that I would be compensated financially by the orchestra or by the city.

At some point it occurred to me that, even though this was not a commissioned work, I need not be entirely on my own spending so much of my own time and money (sheet music needs to be printed out, copyrights need to be filed, etc.) on the project. While I was the only person who would be creating the music, surely members of the Tualatin community—businesses and individuals both—would feel that this project was something that they could support. So I came up with the plan to appeal for patrons of the work, and I planned that the first group I would reach out to would be local businesses. The perfect opportunity for this kind of request was the Chamber’s weekly AM Networking event, which includes the opportunity to pay $5.00 for one minute of time in front of the members of the Chamber—usually more than 50 business owners and representatives.

So I stood in front of the Tualatin Chamber and reminded them that I was composing the Tualatin Overture, and announced that I was looking for patrons whose names and businesses would be included on the score and in the program notes I would be creating for the composition. I had come up with the initial target of getting total commitments of $1,000 that day, and asked for five or more contributions of $200 each.

And here comes the “money knot”—and the surprising outcome.

After the AM Networking ended that day and people were milling around chatting, a member of the Chamber—who happens to also be a fan of my music—very forthrightly, and with every intention of helping, suggested that asking for contributions of $200 was just too much, and I should have asked for contributions of, say, $20 instead. Yes, it would take more contributions, but I would get more people contributing at a more “manageable” cost.  (I immediately noticed that this person’s perspective was influenced by a money knot, of not ‘asking for too much’ and that my situation was an example of what Shell refers to as others dumping their ‘money stuff’ on us.)

Then, right as I was having that conversation, another chamber member walked up and said they wanted to be a patron for the overture, and offered a contribution for $500 on the spot. They certainly had a different money perspective of how much was ‘enough’ or ‘too much’, and suddenly with just a single patron, I was halfway to my starting goal!

Later that same day I reached out to another chamber member who had not been able to be at the AM Networking. This was someone who is a long-time fan and who had previously commissioned me to compose a song as a birthday gift for a relative. Without my mentioning a number, they offered to write a check for $500.

So within the day I had achieved my initial target of $1,000 from just two eager patrons. I have continued pursuing more patrons and will so until I have to print the “final” score and program notes for the premiere performance.

I can’t help but wonder how the day might have turned out if I had asked for $20 contributions—or if I had asked for $500 contributions.  It’s very interesting to look at how our thinking about money can either limit or expand our possibilities.

And now here I am, a working composer, making money at my craft.

— Arthur Breur

Thanks, Arthur!

Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d a bit more conversation about how money thinking effects your money results, give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.shelltain.com.

 

Liquidity

Now, there’s a juicy topic!  In the world of finance liquidity means having money available for your use.

My guess is that you don’t think of yourself as a ‘finance’ person, but you do handle, use, and need money, right?  And one of the things you need from money is to be able to get your hands on it, right?  If all of your money was tied up in a retirement account, in order to get your hands on it you would have to go through hoops, fill out forms, wait, and then would only be allowed to take out so much without a penalty.  You are willing to have the money “out of touch” like that so you can sock it away and hopefully let you money grow for your retirement.  That’s a good thing.

However, a bunch of people I know are also reducing their access to their money in another way, and it’s an interesting money knot for sure: They overpay their taxes.  One friend does it because he feels that it will make him safer from the possibility of an audit.  Others do it because they actually think of their taxes as a savings account.  And yet others think of it as a way to put aside money for fun things.  Hmm…

Personally my sweet spot with taxes is to either get back or owe both Federal and State less than $1,000.   The reason I like that spot is because I’m not in essence lending my money to another ‘entity’ to use all year long.  Sure I can’t make as much interest on my money as the government can.  They can put my money with your money and invest it at higher rate than you or I can get.  But beside that point, I also don’t have the use of my money when it is waiting to become a positive tax return.

Allow me to digress for a moment.  I must admit that I do enjoy the guilty pleasure of watching some daytime Judge shows here and there.  My favorites are Hot Bench and Judge Milian from the Peoples Court. These things are always about money, because money is the basic way that courts have of solving issues. It’s amazing how many times people end up in court because they borrowed money from someone with the promise of paying it back once they got their tax return—and then somehow didn’t pay it back.

Here we are just after Tax Day, maybe you filed early, maybe you filed on time, maybe you got an extension.  The more interesting question is, did you give the government a bunch of your money to use free of charge for months, and at the same time deprive yourself of having the money on hand during the year? Oh, and while we are at it, during the year, did you incur or pay any interest on your credit cards?

If you did, you are certainly not alone, and I get it. Overpaying in taxes to get a bigger return can feel like a good idea.  My guess is the part of you that makes the decision isn’t really your competent adult part, but more your kid side that wants to be handed some fun money all at once.  There are other ways to create some fun money—really!—and they don’t cost you as much in liquidity or interest.

Whatever happened with your taxes in 2016, you have a choice to do it the same way or differently in 2017.  What’s your choice?

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d a bit of extra support untangling this liquidity thing, give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.shelltain.com.

Backing Away From Money?

Have you ever found yourself doing that? Backing away from money? People do it way more often than you might think. If you pay attention, you may even find yourself doing it. Let me give you a couple of pretty interesting examples.

When I first started being a Money Coach I noticed this weird thing that would often happen to me at networking events. Someone would introduce me as  a Money Coach and people would literally back away from me. It was pretty disconcerting. I’d find myself checking to see if I had an odd odor emanating from me, or some part hanging out that shouldn’t be… nope, nothing like that. It was simply because I represented Money and it’s a big, scary taboo topic.

Here’s another one.  Year’s ago when my then husband and his brother inherited a fairly large chunk of change this odd thing happened.  I was in the kitchen getting some food ready to take to the table and my brother-in-law was standing there.  I asked him if there was anything particular he was going to do with the money, and mentioned something like “hiring a financial planner” to help him.  He literally backed up, and went to another room.  Ah the faux pas strikes again!

More recently, I was at an Opening Studio event being held by Sari de la Motte of Forte.  Her company works with people around making sure that the messages they are sending with tone and body match the verbal messages.  This event was specifically for attorneys.  I was part of a mock jury, and the attorneys were delivering their opening arguments to us, and then getting feedback from us, and coaching from Sari.  Of course, I can’t tell you anything about the four different cases, which were fascinating!  What I can tell you is that when each one of them got to talking about money they backed up.  Wow!  Trial attorneys!  Amazing.  Money is the vehicle they use to determine damages and worth of their cases.

And just to make the point even clearer, let me give you one closer to home.  There is a listserv that I belong to, it’s primarily people posting about events, things for sale, classes, etc.   I post a notice of my blog on it when I write one.  That’s mostly twice a month.  You probably get a similar notice via email.  The one on the listserv is simpler in that it doesn’t have any photos.  So I posted a notice of my last blog—the one titled ‘Rehearsing Conversations‘—and I got an email from someone that said: “Please stop sending these.”  I assumed he didn’t want the listserv at all, but no: he didn’t want me on it.  What he said next was: “I like the list. I don’t want to unsubscribe. I just don’t like you over using this for self-promotion.  Too many ‘contributions’ from Ka-ching.”  Wow, talk about gobsmacked!  Even writing this out now, I feel my own personal Defense Horse chomping at the bit to zoom out and gallop all over this! Instead, I’d like you to notice that this guy is in essence backing away from what I have to say. My guess is he hasn’t actually read anything I’ve posted, he’s seen word “Ka-ching” and assumed it’s something about money and that was enough for him.

We often get backed up around money, and it’s pretty likely that we don’t even recognize it’s happening because it’s so overwhelmingly taboo.

And here’s the really important and sticky part of this.  How effective do you think you are going to be at making and amassing money if you avoid it so stridently?  If you can’t bring up your fee without backing up, how do you think the potential client is going to react?  Backing up when it comes to money is frankly antithetical to acquiring it.  We back up and avoid things that are harmful, dangerous, scary, and oh, yes, taboo.  If money is all that, then why do you want it?  Our brains avoid things with mixed messages, and backing away from money, while saying we want it is definitely a mixed message.  Which way do you think your brain is actually going to align with?  You body saying: “back up” or some other part saying: “lean in and get some”?

How about you try taking steps toward your money?  Getting closer?  Getting friendly?  Take a deep breath and step toward it – just see what happens.

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d a bit of extra support is moving toward your money, give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.

Power Struggle

It may very well seem like all the struggle going on in our politics and our lives right now is about money.  Certainly money is front and center as a topic—but I want you to remember: Money doesn’t actually create the situation, it reflects it!  We need to be very careful as we come to conclusions about what it going on.  If we decide that money itself is a fault then we fall into the mess of blaming money for something it isn’t responsible for.  People make choices, money just goes where they put it.

When we make money responsible for people’s choices we tend to “throw the baby out with the bath water”.  We decide that money is bad, evil, dirty.  We decide things would be better if we have as little to do with money as possible.  As Spock would say that is a “most illogical reaction.”  And it’s a trap that will derail you.

We humans are pattern makers.   We lump things together to make them easier to deal with.  It works really well in lots of places.  Deciding that money is the cause of something that someone used money to do isn’t one of those places.   Greed isn’t about money—it’s about power.  (And just so you know rape isn’t about sex—it too is about power.)

Here’s how I know greed isn’t really about money.  If you magically had a room filled with money, but weren’t allowed to spend it or use it in any way, you wouldn’t want it.  What we want from money is what we can do with it, and that has nothing to do with money being good or bad—that’s up to us.

Money is just doing its job.  It’s telling us—without any judgement at all—what is happening.  Money is great that way.  It shows what Bill and Melinda Gates choose to do with their money.  It shows Warren Buffet giving billions to charities, including the Gates ones.  As you notice those who are greedy and self-serving with money, please balance that perspective with those who are generous.  It’s not money doing the choosing, it’s people.

Another way to think of it is that money is a mirror.   Let it show that how you make and spend your money is in alignment with your dreams and values.  Let’s allow money to do its job of supporting us by simply telling us what we are up to.

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you find yourself thinking that money itself is bad, get in touch and let’s see if we can untangle that in a  way that works for you.  Call me at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com

Cuckoo Clock Phenomenon

The other day my massage person and I were talking about how sometimes a long-term client just disappears for some amount of time, and then often returns some time later.  I can’t be sure in all instances, but my guess is that what is often happening with this kind of stuff is something I call the Cuckoo Clock Phenomenon.  

On some level the client acts as if you, the practitioner, live in a Cuckoo Clock, and between interactions with the client you are inside the clock waiting for them to chime the hour and ask you to come out.  They are rightly thinking of themselves, not you.

When you are in a personal service type of profession like a coach, massage therapist, virtual assistant, etc., clients often end up leaving your ‘practice’ without warning.  They just stop, which can leave you dangling.

In many ways this is just fine. You are providing a service, and that is how the client thinks of you.  It’s not personal.  For them, when you are not with them, they do not think of you.  These are your clients, not your friends or family.  You do the same thing.  I don’t think of the dentist or the person who pet-sits my cat when I’m out of town in between when I need their services either.

Part of what gets this in a tangle is that when we provide a service based largely on our own selves, it can feel more personal when the client leaves or takes a long break. It very likely that if they do disappear it’s not about you. It’s about something else.  That something else could be a myriad of things, many of which you haven’t even thought of.

One of the things I find intriguing  about this, is that there is more often than not a money component in the disappearance.  Or at least the illusion of a money piece.  Let me give you an example of my very own!

When I first moved to Portland I was getting massages by a perfectly good massage therapist.  (Yes, I think that at least two rubs a month are a necessity)  All of a sudden, one day, I had the thought that “I can’t afford this any more!”   First I kinda looked around and thought “Who said that?”  Then I dug a little deeper.

Nothing had changed in my money situation—I had the funds to continue with the massages.  What I finally realized is that what had changed is that I was simply tired of the method the person used.  The massages were fine.  I just needed a change.  Frankly that was too weird and awkward for my brain to process, I had to make up a more viable reason—and money is always good for one of those.  Of course, it costs too much.  On some level that makes sense because I no longer valued the massage in the same way.  What is really more likely is that “I can’t afford it” is a great excuse.  Getting clear on this was very helpful to me.  I got clear that I could still afford to get a massage, I just needed a different  masseuse.

See here’s the deal.  Money is the most taboo topic, ever!  If you want to get out of something just bring up the money and people will quickly scurry away.  And it goes deeper.  Something like a massage, coaching, or fitness training are often thought of as indulgent, or selfish—not as self-care, growth, or improvement.  When things get tough financially we are more likely to sacrifice those things that help us feel and do better with some kind of “things are already tough, so let’s make it harder—it will build character” logic.

This is a likely scenario when you have a client that all of a sudden disappears and  then returns sometime later.  The return indicates they liked the service you provided.  If that’s true, then the disappearance was probably something about money.  Or at least that the client thought was about money.  And the client figured you will just be sitting inside the Cuckoo Clock waiting for their return, right?

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you end up in this kind of money tangle as a practitioner or client give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com

Couples and Money

Guess what?  Couples have money issues.  They disagree about it, they fight about it, they hide what’s going on with it from each other.  Anything to do with money often leads to a messy conversation if not a bit of a tussle.

This happens for a couple of really good reasons. First, opposites attract.  Yep, they do.  In general we want our partners to be a bit more unpredictable and different from us.  We want a some mystery to challenge, intrigue and inspire up.  I also ascribe to the idea that their differences to us require us to look deeper at ourselves and consider other perspectives.  The topic of money is certainly one of the areas that differences show up!

More importantly, almost all of us (~97.5%) have little kids running our money—the little kids that we were when we first were exposed to money concepts in our families and our culture.  These kids usually grew up without being properly and intentionally educated about money.  There are reasons for this, the primary one being that money is such a taboo topic.  Our parents don’t talk about how it actually works, instead they say odd things about it – “It doesn’t grow on trees”, “You’ll have to work hard forever and never really make any”, “Rich people aren’t as nice as poor people”.

None of that is really helpful to us as children.  The main thing we really learn about money as kids is that there is something “weird” about it.  When our parents talk about it the “emotional field” around money just gets hinky.

What happens is that somehow the little kid part of us ends up running our money, in little kid fashion.  It’s like we somehow gave that  job to them and forgot to relieve them of it.

The important thing about this little kid  thinking issue in a couple is that when it comes to money we not only have opposites trying to work it out, but pretty stubborn little kids with arms folded glaring at each other.  The overriding thought is something like:  “I’m right and my partner is just wrong. So there!”

Seems a bit silly, doesn’t it?  In the midst of it, it’s not though…it’s serious.  It’s deep.  It’s fundamental.  It’s the way you learned and what you made up about how things work.  You aren’t really opposing your partner, you are championing the way you were raisedand you are doing it from the perspective of a little kid.  And oh by the way, your partner is doing the same thing.

Understanding your differences, and that the part of each of you that is handling your money is a little kid, can go a long way to understanding and creating harmony in your relationship with money.  Staying firmly positioned in the ‘I’m just right” stance won’t help.

A couple of places to start changing this dynamic include:

  • Recognizing and saying over and over to yourself “this is not about me, it’s about my partner’s beliefs.” This is true even when the partner says it is about you!
  • Bringing lightness and humor to the situation. Remembering what attracts you to each other.  Honor your caring for each other.

You two can succeed in having money be something you collaborate on, it just requires love, patience, and understanding—oh, and bringing the more mature parts of ourselves to the conversation is a good idea.  Save the little kid for the park, the zoo, or maybe even playing doctor!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you and/or your partner would like more support in collaborating around money give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com