Financial independence takes many skills to achieve–patience, financial acumen, and discipline are good examples. Perhaps the most important one is self-awareness. Without this ability, the journey to financial independence will be long and arduous… if you get there at all.
With a little self-awareness, and a willingness to learn from your mistakes, freedom becomes a real possibility.
The Japanese believe there are three powers in this world–the sword, the jewel, and the mirror.
The sword is physical or military power–the power of force. Nations are conquered and empires lost by this power alone.
The jewel is monetary power. To quote Robert Kiyosaki in Rich Dad, Poor Dad, “Remember the Golden Rule. He who has the gold makes the rules.”
The mirror is the power of self-awareness.
Used correctly, the mirror is the most powerful of all. On your journey to financial independence, this rings true.
You need to be aware of your beliefs, tendencies, and weaknesses in order to succeed.
If you’re going to succeed on your path to financial independence, your beliefs come first. You have to know why you want to be rich, and you can never forget it.
Money is a powerful tool. In the wrong hands, it can be quite destructive. We live in a world where you can buy just about anything that you desire. If your desires are out of whack, you’ll go down a very dark path.
When your desires are pure, money can be a great vehicle to get you there.
Think about why you want to be rich. What drives you? If cars, boats, and Gucci bags are your prime motivation, you’re not going to last very long. The desire for material items is rooted in the desire to please other people.
If you’re going to succeed on your journey to long-term wealth, you have to drop the need to please other people. It won’t do you any good.
Next step is to analyze your own tendencies–what actions you take. You may say that you live like a minimalist, but that $10,000 credit card bill says something different. This may be the hardest part to analyze impartially. We all have this idea of ourselves and I can almost guarantee that its wrong. Our brain has a curious habit of doing mental acrobatics to preserve itself. It will lie and cheat in order to survive or avoid contradiction.
That’s why its so painful when someone brings your true habits to light. When someone shatters this view that we had of ourselves, the natural reaction is to lash out. The brain doesn’t like to be wrong–especially when its identity is the subject in question.
Do whatever you can to get rid of your preconceived notions of yourself. Your identity is an undefined thing, and it’s fine to keep it that way. Instead of labelling yourself, just notice what you do.
Without this level of self-awareness, budgeting your money is going to be very difficult. Tracking your money is a key step in the process of learning your tendencies about money. When you set predetermined goals for yourself, you set the benchmark.
Your actions then speak for themselves.
Your beliefs about who you are don’t define you–your actions do.
However powerful as your drive may be, we all have our weaknesses. The way to get over these is to set up a process for yourself and learn what triggers your weaknesses.
I’m a sucker for a good bottle of whiskey. When I first got into drinking scotch, I would buy a new bottle every time I went to the store. Pretty soon, I had a collection that filled my liquor cabinets and covered my counters.
After a while, it started to catch on: I was buying whiskey much faster than I was drinking it. I had to slow down.
Your weaknesses may be caramel macchiatos from Starbucks or buying baseball cards (or NFTs). It’s important to recognize that you have a proclivity towards certain items, and remember your why.
When your why becomes strong enough, your weaknesses become the process.
Now that I’ve tamed the scotch beast (to an extent), my new addiction is investing money. I live for that feeling when I transfer money from my bank account into my brokerage account.
It’s like crack for my eyes.
Awareness doesn’t happen overnight
It took me several years of trying to discover my why, and more years after that to analyze my tendencies and diminish my weaknesses. This is a slow process, but a necessary one.
Developing self-awareness will improve every aspect of your life.
I used to live for expensive things and cheap experiences. I would save up my money to buy a new car or a new TV while the rest of it went towards trips to the bar and hanging out with friends. I didn’t have my long-term future in mind.
But now I live for freedom. Everything I work for is going towards the idea of being completely free.
Because progress starts in your mind. Before you see the results, you have to decide to become the person who gets those results.
Thanks for reading!