The economy woes are having a huge impact on our most important asset: people. People are scared. Therapists are seeing an increase in patients as anxiety intensifies keeping people awake at night and interfering with their ability to focus and be productive. Fear is taking over what were previously competent and secure individuals. People are struggling with the lack of certainty and their feelings of powerlessness.

Yes, the economy is in bad shape. Yes, we are all going to have to make some changes if we are to create something new and not recreate another situation that mirrors what we have right now. We must learn from our mistakes in order to move forward in a new direction and not simply correct this problem only to have the same lessons repeat themselves in the future. What we resist persists.

Each of us must do our part to create the change needed in order to bring about a new future. Focusing on what we can control – ourselves – keeps us in action and helps to lessen anxiety. There are several pervasive thought patterns or beliefs systems that operate currently in our society that are leading us down the wrong path and will need to change if we are to build a healthy future economy. Let’s look at some of the current beliefs that will need updating.

“If I don’t look at it, maybe it will go away.” – Escape and Avoidance Mentality
If you avoid looking at your finances, things will not somehow magically improve. You cannot keep doing what you are doing and hope for different results. Regardless of how painful it is, you must face your current reality, develop a plan of action, and take the steps to create what you want. There is no other way. It is guaranteed that you will feel so much better and more in control when you face the truth and start taking action steps to improve your financial situation.

“Somebody else is responsible.” – Shifting Blame to Outside Sources, Looking to Be Saved
Also called the “I-DON’T-WANT-TO-GROW-UP” mentality. The government is not responsible to save you (although somehow we seem to look there for our answers.) Your parents are not responsible for rescuing you (once you become an adult). You are response-able for taking care of yourself and your finances. Each of us goes through school and then chooses college, trade school, or not. We each must learn a trade, go to work, and make money to support ourselves (unless you are independently wealthy). This is simple; so why is it so difficult? Because we don’t want to – perhaps we don’t know how to – be responsible. We don’t like to wait for things. We have a limitless appetite for all things better and faster and we want instant gratification. We don’t get the connection between our own behaviors and the outcomes we create because somehow in our minds, we would see ourselves as wrong or as a failure and we can’t handle the embarrassment. We don’t want to have to fix it. It seems so big and monstrous that we prefer living in denial and blaming someone else.

Each of us must learn basic financial skills so we can budget, balance a checkbook, and save for the things we want. Using debt and credit is a trap; it is one reason we are in trouble right now. In the US, as in other countries, we spend way more than we bring in with taxes and then justify spending whatever we want rather limit ourselves. (Who likes limits?) The government role models for us how to behave as individuals. But the fact is that people make up the government. The government’s behavior reflects our values. It cannot think; people do the thinking and the acting; our thoughts create our reality. We are not being responsible for ourselves or our country. There is no vision for the future and no “Plan B.” We keep digging ourselves a bigger and bigger hole. Ghandi reminds us, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” In other words, if you want to see something change, start with yourself.

“I can’t do anything to change this.” – The Powerlessness Mentality
Thinking that there is nothing you can do to solve your current reality is like saying you have no control over what you wear today. You have choices. Each day you spend money on that cup of coffee. You buy lunch. You purchase that shirt on sale or go golfing. Every dollar you spend is a choice you make and those choices reflect your values. Do you value purchasing things just because there’s a sale? If you would never spend full price on that garment, why buy it at all? You are still spending your hard earned money. You have a choice. Your choices are not always easy. It’s not easy to stop spending money when you are used to living a certain lifestyle. But you can do it. You have tremendous power. And you are accountable for your current situation. Each of the choices you have made every day up until this moment have created your current reality. Whatever you want in the future, you will create it by your choices; but if you don’t change your beliefs and the value judgments you make each day, you will re-create in the future what you have now, much like someone who discharges their debt only to get back in deeper than before, or the person who loses fifty pounds only to gain back seventy. Albert Einstein warned us that “You cannot solve today’s problems with the same thinking that got you here.” A new reality will require new beliefs and new habits.

Unrealistic Expectations – Fantasy Mentality
Society promotes this “having it all” mentality in which we are taught that “having” it all is most important; this perpetuates a culture of human doings where we frantically race to fill our cups but forgot what for. Children grow up believing not only that they can have it all but they feel entitled to have it all. While it is true that we are each capable of having a great life, there are two pieces of information missing from the instructions. One: we must do the work. Entitlement is a belief that we should have anything we want – and we should have it immediately – without doing the work necessary to attain it. People overspend, borrow, steal, cheat, and lie; some people waste time wishing and hoping for an inheritance or lottery winnings; others search for a quick fix through network marketing and get-rich-quick schemes. People live angry lives because they don’t have what they believe they should have (what they feel entitled to); or they get resentful and angry at others who seem to have more. “You cannot look at someone’s outside and know what’s going on inside.” You have no idea whether others live within their means or if their debt is greater than yours.

The other instruction needed to create a great life is that you must learn to enjoy yourself and your success. In other words, you must learn to BE as well as DO or you will never feel happy and successful regardless of the state of your life and affairs.

It takes time to create change and to create wealth. Experts report quite simply that if you use cash for spending, stay out of debt, and pay yourself first, meaning that you save a certain percentage of your income consistently every month, then over time, you will be wealthy. Small amounts add up over time. Each of us has the capacity to save one million dollars by the time we are 65 or 70, depending upon when you start saving and how much is saved each month. To the question, “Can I ever become a millionaire without going on the TV show? Is that possible for me?” The answer is a resounding, “YES!” But it’s not gonna happen without a plan, and it’s not gonna happen overnight, and it’s not gonna happen without action.

The Bottom Line: What Do You Value?
Your current state of affairs is a reflection of what you value. Do you value what others think and spend money in order to impress? Do you make purchases to feel good about yourself? Do you value living a certain lifestyle and therefore have large debt and lots of great toys but no real money to show for the work you do? Do you still work paycheck to paycheck? How would you manage if you lost your job? This all contributes to your fear, anxiety, and stress.

We must stop spending to gain self-esteem or to impress others. We must start living within our means and learn to budget accordingly, meaning only spending money when we have it and for things that are most important. If you want to change, consider your relationship with money. Focus on what you can control and take action to educate and protect yourself and your family. Whatever your current financial position, you can improve it starting today. And with each good choice, with each responsible move in the right direction, you create a better future. Let’s each do our part.

Author's Bio: 

Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN, CSAC is dedicated to helping you break through the barriers to your happiness and success. She is a masterful coach, a motivational speaker and world-renowned writer and author. For additional resources and to sign up for her inspiring e-newsletter, visit NurturingYourSuccess.com or email Julie@NurturingYourSuccess.com.