Ideas and More Ideas

My brain is burgeoning from drinking through the fire house of thought leaders sharing insight and wisdom across a wide array of endeavors and disciplines at the Aspen Ideas Fest.  All in attendance listened with their personal world view ears.  Mine is from the perspective of a financial advisor, educator, wife and mother.  We listen, chew on and converse about the insights and implications.  We would be remiss, however, if we just ponder the concepts, and don’t integrate some element of change into our lives.

Goldie Hawn’s work around mindfulness with children in the schools is as profound as it is powerful. Her MindUP program brings tools incorporating the latest neuroscience to facilitate emotional and physical health for our kids.  We can bring this work into our homes and apply it to our financial lives as well. What do our kids absorb around family financial matters?   Money does not need to be a taboo topic. The economy is on the mend, but our children have experienced the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.  They may have seen parents lose jobs and possibly homes, businesses or marriages.  They felt the tension of heated discussions around money. Worse yet, they may have felt the absence of conversations and relationships as the adults around them maneuvered through unchartered territory.  As young adults, they are given credit cards without any instruction or preparation, and their phones now disconnect them more than ever from their financial choices.  How can we be more mindful around our money and set examples for our kids of what financial health looks like?

It may simply be taking the time to be grateful for what you have.  Take a deep breath and reflect on the bounty that your circumstances have availed – today. Talk about financial gratitude.  Does your kid hear you say anything like “I am so grateful I have the opportunity to earn a living doing what I enjoy”? Or “I am so thankful we have the financial resources to pay this bill”, or “I am grateful that we can help others by sharing some of what we have”.  Don’t let money flow through your life with disregard.  Years ago, we took our teenage daughter to www.globalrichlist.com to provide perspective given her minimal babysitting income.  This is a simple, yet very visual way to shift your gratitude gauge .  There is amazing work being done in the area of neuro-economics, shedding light on how our brains work around money.  You are not a victim – you have choices, and you can choose differently if your current decisions are not serving you well.  You can strengthen healthy relationships with money by being more mindful, and your kids (still in the house or not) will benefit.

 

Another session was focused on Charles Duhigg’s work around “The Power of Habit.”  Why do they exist and how we can change them have huge financial applications.  How do the three basic components of habit play a part in our financial lives?  Cue, routine and reward.  The cue – a stimulus that happens on a recurring basis that the brain recognizes and responds to according to the neural pathways engrained over time.  Take for example, money coming into your life systematically – that is the cue.  The routine is usually unconscious – you just do it.  This is the part that changes when we learn a new “habit”.  Your routine may include whipping out the credit card to buy what you want.  The third component of habit is “reward”.  This is the emotional side and is connected with the complexities of deep set feelings, built on individual’s histories and DNA.   The reward is why we perform the routine.  Financially speaking, this is where we have a huge disconnect and why there are so many challenges.  We have confused external, superficial rewards with internal, intrinsic rewards.   We have room for paramount change that will impact our families and our world.    Is the reward of having the most toys REALLY rewarding? Or are these phantom, illusive images that warrant careful consideration and possible alteration?

If you didn’t attend the festival, listen to some of the sessions on KAJX.  Since money weaves its way into every aspect of our lives, think about the ideas from a financial frame.  These were just two that inspired and encouraged me as I continue my quest to change conversations around money.

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