Meditation can help reduce anxiety, improve happiness, and decrease stress levels. In the past decade, this technique has started to catch on in the United States with an increasing amount of individuals using meditation to achieve various goals. I will argue that meditation can be used to help obtain your financial goals while increasing happiness and decreasing stress along the way.
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness Meditation is the practice of being still and letting ones mind focus on one specific topic. The second part of this method of meditation is that it is expected that the mind will wander. When this occurs, its important to view the thoughts without judgement and to refocus the initial goal. This may sound somewhat easy, but when I first started it was only a matter of seconds before my mind would start wandering off the initial goal I had set for myself. I recall sitting down, starting to focus on my breathing only to be interrupted by a thought of how hard the seat cushion was. Turns out this type of meditation was much harder than I thought. Over time, using Mindfulness Meditation I was able to focus during meditation for much longer than ever before while minimizing interruptions. This is a trait that I think can serve ones money management well.
How I have use Mindfulness Meditation for my Money Management:
1.) Realize when there is a diversion from the initial plan
It takes discipline to avoid distractions mentally and financially, but one of the most important aspects of money management is realizing once you have diverted from the initial plan. This statement may seem obvious, but how many times have you looked around your house to wonder how you have accumulated so much stuff that you never use? Sometimes the shift is so gradual that it takes a fresh perspective to see how far from the initial path you have truly gone. Using dedicated time at scheduled intervals is a great way to reevaluate progress wither its daily meditation or monthly when paying bills.
2.) Learning how to avoid distractions, both mentally and financially
Learning how to avoid distractions when the news comes up with terms like “Brexit” is key to avoiding making emotional decisions. Focus on your goal financially, and if the market has shifted then its okay to redistribute asset allocation to a certain degree. Its not okay to make huge changes though that can affect your overall goal of financial independence. I’ve been guilty of this when I have came home from the store with a purchase that was not in my best financial interest (do I really need a chest freezer that I have turned into a place to store yeast slants for brewing beer?). Just because something may be flashing a distracting sign doesn’t mean its the right sign for you to spend money.
3.) Avoiding highly marketed sales pitches and the push for consumerism
Amazon prime day was during the week of this posting. Although some deals may be had, more people will end up buying something that the most likely do not need which will add to the pile of stuff that never gets used. Avoid the strong sales pitches with slogans such as “Amazon Prime Day” and be on the look out for a deal only after you have identified a financial need for a product. Other examples include buying a item of sale when in fact the person really didn’t get a bargain as they have no intended use for the product anyway.
4.) Learn to avoid judgement
Its also easy to judge and place blame on ones significant other by saying that they are not on board with your financial goals when they make a purchase that is off the intended path. These thoughts quickly pop into our minds and with some work we can retrain out minds refocus on the end goal without being judgmental or demeaning. Its also important to make sure that the plan was not just your plan, but both partners plan. If one person is not on board to begin with then its impossible to blame them for living up to something they didn’t agree to in the beginning.
5.) Focus on the present and don’t compare yourself financial to others
Be happy with how hard you have worked and all the decisions that you have made to this point. Whats done is done and there is no point on dwelling on the past and there is no point in wishing to have what other people have. Though they may have an item that you have always been dreaming of, you have the choice to live the life that you have always been dreaming of. You will end up being much happier int he end once you love the life you have.
Don’t forget about the journey
Mindfulness Money Meditation is about using the lessons learned from meditation to execute a plan to reach financial independence. There are numerous posts on blogs about crunching the numbers in order to reach some threshold for savings rate. The point of meditating is to better oneself though the journey to this goal of financial independence and to accept all of the experiences along the way. There is no benefit from scolding oneself for departing from the financial plan. Part of the benefits of this style of meditation is to accept the journey for where it leads you while becoming well disciplined. In a previous post, I wrote about my intern year and how I fell to one of the most common ways physicians waste money, I went on an elaborate vacation. Instead of scolding myself, I accepted that I made a decision to go on the vacation and appreciated the journey that this departure had taken me. This trip was the first vacation I went on with my future wife and ended up being the place where we fell in love with each other. It also allowed me to become more disciplined as I continue my financial journey to avoid such large expenditures in the future while at the same time allowing me to have an experience both my fiancee and I will never forget. Neither of us judged each other for the decision to go on the trip and no negative comments were ever brought up. With time I believe there will be more departures from my plan as there are many temptations trying to delay my goal. However, with some work and learning from lessons in the past they will hopefully continue to be smaller and smaller deviations from the path.