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Financial Learning Curve: Overcoming Frustration

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The first step to taking control of and improving our finances is education.

For many people, this involves suddenly paying attention to a subject which they perceive as boring, foreign and possibly intimidating. Most people begin by trying to wade through the financial section of the daily paper and/or going to the library and taking out books on finances.Frustration

While this ‘plunge in’ approach to learning can be a great way to start, because it is so intense it can often be daunting, and cause people to feel overwhelmed and give up.

Fear not, as these feelings are normal, and things actually WILL get better and more clear. In fact, the more you learn about the financial world, the more FUN you will have dealing with your finances. As with anything you feel you are good at, what now seems like a chore will become a pleasure, especially as you begin to see the results of your efforts.

Below are some of the more common feelings which accompany a woman/person starting out on the journey to financial knowledge and empowerment. Read them and take heart knowing that you are not alone; far from it. Many women have blazed this path before you, and many more are travelling it along with you, feeling the same frustrations and overcoming similar challenges.

  • Embarassment/intimidation:

    ‘I don’t know much about finances, but I don’t want anyone else to know.’ We pretend we know and we don’t ask questions. After all, it’s easier to be ignorant with no one knowing (maybe they’ll think we know) than to admit we don’t have the answers. We may not even have the brightest of questions.

    SO WHAT? Asking questions is how we learn, and life is short. If we always take the long way in our learning – struggling through books and articles full of terms we don’t understand – then it will take us far longer than necessary.

    A few questions asked can make a huge difference in your understanding. Swallow your pride and remember that you’re doing this for YOURSELF. Your financial freedom awaits, and the fastest way to get there is to learn faster and put your money to work sooner. No other person’s opinion is more important than that.

  • Frustration/demotivation:

    You are extremely motivated to improve your financial future and you dive right in. You read the financials every day and they begin to seem somewhat familiar. Somewhere along the line, you begin to care less, to let things slide. You skip a day or two, and you begin to ask yourself why you’re really bothering anyway – can this really make that much of a difference?…

    This is frustration, masquerading as demotivation. Take heart: this too shall pass. Just as when beginning a new diet or exercise regime, there comes a time when we hit a wall. What’s actually happening is that our inner beliefs – in this case about money – are sabotaging our efforts to change. Because we are unaware of this, we rationalise our slips by telling ourselves it was all no use anyway.

    Now is the time to do some work in uncovering your internal beliefs about money. How you behave in any given situation is as much a function of your beliefs as your intentions. They are in there and they’re holding you back, and can be found by exploring your reactions to what you are doing. For instance, if you are thinking things like ‘I’ll never learn enough to make a difference’ or ‘I’m not smart enough for this,’ you are coming up against your internal beliefs. You can counter this in many ways, including:

    a) carrying on anyway and pushing through the wall,

    b) examining the beliefs and refuting them with postive affirmations, such as repeatedly telling yourself you are smart, capable and powerful,

    c) searching out some role models and having conversations which renew your fire for learning and improving your finances,

    d) purposely remembering times when you felt empowered and strong, no matter the situation. For example, if you once ran a marathon and felt a fantastic sense of accomplishment afterwards , close your eyes and conjure up that feeling. Strengthen it and hold on to it…then carry on with your reading and learning in the financial arena. Everything is connected – when you feel great in one area, it flows over to others and gives you the strength and motivation to carry on.

  • Sense of isolation:

    It’s normal to have times when you feel alone during this journey. This is especially true if you have no support within your circle of family and friends. There are many ways to remedy this, and you are never alone.

    alone isolationTry going online and finding blogs, forums and articles about and by women who are struggling with the same issues you are. Believe me, there are millions. Try joining a local group or two – an investement group, a women’s finance group or even a Cash Flow game in your area.

    If all of these ideas are new to you, a good place to start would be to go on and type in something like ‘finance meeting my city’ (replace ‘my city’ with your city), or ‘women’s finance advice’ and follow some of the links that come up. There are more resources available to you than you may now believe!

  • ‘Huge mountain’ sydrome:

    Closely related to the demotivation of point number one, this feeling comes when the learning (or doing) challenge seems so huge that we feel we’ll never get a grasp.
    Try bringing to mind the last time you learned something difficult, even if it was a long time ago…driving a stick shift, learning a new job, etc.. Recall that with every new thing we learn, there is a period when we feel overwhelmed by all the information, and feel we’ll never get it.

    Also recall that things usually seem most cloudy just before they become clear. As with every skill you now take for granted, this too will become second nature. Keep at it and the rewards will be well worth the effort.

  • Procrastination on action: You’re feeling like you’ll never know enough. You’ve learned a lot, but somehow you never feel confident enough to put that knowledge into action. The translation of knowledge into action is not the big step you may be making it out to be.

An analogy I love is one I once heard from a mentor, Brian Tracy:

Once an aircraft takes off, it can adjust its’ trajectory any number of times in order to ensure it reaches its’ destination. Based on feedback about the wind, etc., the numbers can be adjusted accordingly…BUT without being in the air, none of those adjustments are possible. It takes the aircraft being in flight to enable it to receive feedback and make adjusments.

Your finances are no different. If you have to start small, then do that – but DO IT. The sense of accomplishment you’ll get from taking that first step will nudge you towards further action. Take that first step – every journey begins with one step.

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Financial Learning Curve: Overcoming Frustration

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