Do you feel “in charge” of your financial life? Or do you feel you are being swept along by a set of circumstances that are beyond your control? Do you take responsibility for making your own financial decisions, or do you acquiesce to the plans and opinions of others? Does fear, denial, or complacency keep you from taking a proactive approach to nurturing your own financial well-being?
In reality, the person who should be in charge of your financial life is YOU! Therefore, it’s important to understand that the degree of personal power you feel is highly subjective and determined by two important characteristics: locus of control and self-confidence.
Locus of Control
Locus of control is a term that describes the belief system that individuals have concerning the primary source of control in their lives. Those who believe that control is outside of themselves have an external locus of control. They feel that outside forces (such as luck or fate), institutions (e.g., “the government”), or other more powerful individuals have greater control over the direction of their lives than they do. Consciously or subconsciously, those with an external locus of control believe that they are victims of their circumstances and bystanders to the course of events that surround them. In other words, they don’t believe they can have much impact on outcomes in their own lives.
On the other hand, individuals who believe the primary source of control in their lives is within themselves are described as having an internal locus of control. They feel they can influence the course of events that surround them and the outcomes they experience in their own lives. Because they have a strong sense of personal power, they are proactive in making the “right things” happen for themselves. In addition, individuals who possess an internal locus of control are more likely to understand how they themselves have shaped their own financial lives and believe they can influence their own financial well-being.
To apply this concept to your own life, take time to reflect on experiences that may indicate whether you possess an external or internal locus of control. If you want positive change to take place in your life, you will want to be open to new insights about your self-perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs. As you become more and more aware of your own power and potential, you will strengthen your internal locus of control. Along with this process of positive change will come a growing sense of empowerment in your financial life. Continually remind yourself that if there is any aspect of your personal finances that is unsuccessful or unsatisfying, you have the capacity to improve your financial well-being.
Self-confidence is your own evaluation of your abilities to accomplish a given task. “Stepping outside of my comfort zone” is a phrase you are likely to use to describe how you feel in situations that are new to you or are unsure of how well you will perform. Interestingly, many individuals can be self-assured in most areas of their lives, but not feel confident when it comes to managing their personal finances. They can say, “I was never good at math” or “I don’t understand investing.” Other emotional responses might include feeling intimidated by financial lingo or being uncomfortable when discussing their financial matters. In addition, they may hesitate to get the help they need because they are embarrassed by their financial situation or lack of financial acumen.
However, it is important to remember that the best way to build self-confidence—in any area of life—is to take action. Each step you take will give you confidence to take the next step. If you lack confidence in your financial life, start with first things first whether that is assessing your spending, organizing your records, or opening an IRA account—just do it! Taking that first step will give you the courage and motivation you need to tackle other areas that are obstacles to your financial well-being.
Break down big goals like refinancing your mortgage into small action steps. To the uninitiated, the whole process can seem confusing and overwhelming. However, when viewed step by step, the task in not intimidating. In your financial life, keep reminding yourself that success begets success. Successful completion of one step towards a financial goal will give you the confidence you need to tackle the next financial challenge.
Choose a True Wealth™ Advisor
In addition, it is important to work with a financial advisor who understands the importance of personal empowerment in achieving “True Wealth.” Rising to this challenge is a small, but growing, cadre of values-centered financial professionals who are leaders in the trend of integrating financial planning and life planning.
This unique perspective means that these advisors are dedicated to understanding each client’s unique set of values, priorities, challenges, and opportunities in order to make the most appropriate financial recommendations. In addition, these well trained and perceptive professionals will be alert to opportunities to nurture your internal locus of control, strengthen your self-confidence, and put you in the driver’s seat of your own financial destiny.
Reprinted by permission of Money Quotient, NP