I’ve been working with the finance industry for over 25 years now. And all the things I have learned about money and people trying to improve their financial situation comes down to this one thing: vulnerability.
What do I mean by that? Well, in order to change, learn, grow and improve your financial life, you have to be vulnerable. You have to be honest about where you are with money right now. What you do know, and what you don’t. Admit what you don’t understand, and where you think you need help.
This sounds easy, but it is much harder than it looks. Our society has conditioned us to not talk about money (at least with honesty). We try and look our best to the outside world, and most of the time don’t show our soft underbelly. We don’t want other people knowing our business – and even in wealthy circles, it is considered vulgar to talk about money.
So how do we improve and learn from others? How do we ask for help in a world that has conditioned us to think we should know what we are doing? And how do we understand technical terms and jargon that the finance industry presents to us, that we don’t really understand and is, quite frankly, boring?
The key is to be vulnerable. And you can start small. Start by telling the truth to friends. Real friends, not the ones that delight in your bad news to make them feel good about themselves.
Because of what I do for a living, I have always had a very open dialogue with my close friends around money. They know when we are doing well, and when things are tough. And they tell me the same. It brings you closer, allows you to have more empathy and understand their state of mind.
Being vulnerable with friends about your money situation and fears is the first step in being able to improve your situation. Whether it is by seeking out a financial adviser or doing some online learning to hone up on money skills. By admitting the truth to yourself and others, you take the first step toward change.
This doesn’t happen quickly, and nothing worthwhile is easy. But the more you take ownership of your own money journey, and be honest with others that care about you, you can start to really move toward your goals. And you can celebrate when you reach them with people who care.
So take a good hard look at your money. It’s time to get real and get help. You can change things no matter what situation you are in. And being vulnerable enough to admit you need help and want to change is the beginning.