There are two methods of helping people make meaningful change in their financial lives, which I call the “alarm” and the “weighted blanket”.
Your financial situation is like a bed.
We’re each lying in ours. (Or sitting. Or reading. Or whatever else we’re doing.) It’s our resting place.
And yet, despite how you’d probably much prefer to pull the covers over your head and stay there, there are realms outside your bed. New places to explore. New work to do. More fulfillment. More satisfaction. More progress.
But here you are, in bed. What do you need to get out and get moving, from a financial perspective?
I offer two examples. And I believe you need both.
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I know that there are people out there who wake up of their own accord, who spring out of bed at dawn, ready to lace up their shoes and go running in the morning dew.
But as for me, I’d still be sleeping now if it wasn’t for my alarm clock. It doesn’t matter if it’s evening. Sometimes I think I’d just never wake up.
And so too with our financial life. You need an alarm.
Your financial alarm is all of the warnings and motivations that involve pressuring you to action. Take some of these ideas:
- If you don’t pay off your debts, you may never have enough money to retire comfortably.
- Having a car payment for most of your life is the surest way to never be able to make financial progress.
- If you’re too scared to invest, you are too scared to make money.
- No one is going to give you a raise unless you ask for it.
This is the financial “stick”. And many financial coaches offer this kind of pressure. Drop and give me 20!
And this works for many people. When someone metaphorically sticks their finger in your face and tells you what you need to do, that is just the finger that people need to make changes.
But not everyone.
The weighted blanket
Oh, the snooze button. How I love you.
I have caressed your soft exterior more times than I have touched almost anything else in my life. Every 7 minutes in the morning, I touch you over and over, until finally the demands of the day can no longer be ignored.
I’m not proud to admit it, but there have been times in my life when I have hit the snooze button for hours. (Anyone else?)
Some people don’t respond to alarms. Alarms only make them want to hit the snooze button and roll over.
For these people, someone saying to them, at any volume, “you need to pay off your credit card! You need to track your spending! You need to spend no more than what you make!” is going to elicit a yawn. (Where’s the person’s snooze button?)
These people may be in the exact same situation as everyone else, unsure about the future, unhappy with their current situation, but the method of getting through to them needs to be different.
They need a weighted blanket.
I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the heavenly benefits of a weighted blanket. It’s, as you might expect, a blanket but with a heavy kind of beads or foam inside it, so that it weighs a lot more than a standard blanket.
Lying under a weighed blanket is said to be similar to the experience of being hugged. It’s comforting, soothing, relaxing. And yet, it can be at the same time energizing, because it makes you feel so good.
The financial weighted blanket means empathy. These people know that there are ways that they are not operating to their best, they know there are things they could be doing differently, but people need to understand. It’s not easy.
And it’s not. I’ve long thought that whoever said “knowing is half the battle” was an idiot. We may all know what we have to do, but that doesn’t mean that we’re doing it.
For these people, you have to understand their reasons. You have to learn their struggles. You have to walk in their footsteps. You have to feel their pain.
These are the people who need the weighted blanket. Only then will they be able to make any movement.
What do you need?
I find the most financial people tend to be the “alarm”.
I also find that I feel more comfortable being the weighted blanket with my clients. I can certainly be the alarm when necessary, but I think there’s often quite enough of that out there.
The question you have to ask yourself is: What will get you out of your financial bed and into the world, changing habits and making the progress needed to make a better life for yourself and your loved ones?
Which do you need, an alarm, or a weighted blanket? Or both? Feel free to sleep on it.