My father was a great financial role model to me and my sisters and taught us so much about owning our financial power. One of his best lessons was to make value-based decisions, rather than emotional ones. Now imagine trying to impart this lesson on a teenage girl who is 90% emotional. He had his work cut out for him!
Thankfully, he persevered, and it remains a lesson that I now demonstrate to my own daughters. While it’s probably not entirely possible to remove all emotion from our money decisions, or even recommended, we must still be mindful of how they influence us. Otherwise, they will guide our decisions, and too often we regret emotional purchases later.
People often ask me what is the difference between values and goals because they use them interchangeably. Values and goals are not the same, but they are intimately intertwined with one another. Your values represent your beliefs and what matters to you. Many of us may have similar values, such as putting our family first, but what that actually means to you and to me, may differ from each other.
Your goals are things you want for yourself and your family that align with your core values. For example, if your family is your top priority, then you likely have family-oriented goals, such as buying a home, family vacations and paying for your children’s college education. You can sense when your goals are out of alignment with your values, because something doesn’t feel right. Your actions don’t match your values.
Once you know what your core values are, you can set goals around them to help create the life you want for you and your family. This seems easy enough (and it is) but we cannot overlook how our emotions affect us. We are emotional beings. Our lives are busy, messy and stressful. It is easy to lose sight of our values and goals. This is why I always ask myself, “Will this bring me closer to my goals or am I feeding an emotion?” when I find myself tempted to buy something unplanned and suggest you do the same. It slows you down and makes you think, giving you a chance to regain perspective and make the right decision.
Once you get a handle on your emotions and can more quickly identify when they are leading you astray, there is another potential problem you face — a judgmental world. Whether we like it or not, people judge us, sometimes harshly, for the choices we make, even when we make choices that our honor our values and goals. You need to be prepared to handle push-back and outright criticism, so you can continue to work towards creating your ideal life versus following the herd to avoid negative comments from the peanut gallery.
We make constant judgments every day. We like this food or we don’t. We like this book or we don’t. We like that outfit or we don’t. Knowing what we like and dislike is important to helping us create our ideal life. The problem arises when those around us start vocalizing their judgments in a way that makes us feel bad or diminishes our positive actions. Most of us have been at the receiving end of such unwelcome judgment, and I’ve outlined five tips to help tune out the naysayers, so you can stay focused on what you want.
This seems obvious, but when I ask people what their values are, I am often greeted with silence. Deep down, most of us know what we value, but we haven’t taken the time to really define them or to become intimately familiar with them. Sometimes, we even feel a bit embarrassed by our values, particularly if they differ from our peers. I encourage you to take some time and truly figure out what matters to you and your spouse, if you have one. Ignore the outside noise on what you should care about and create your own values.
Once you complete that task, then you need to understand “why” they matter so much to you. This is important, so do not skip this step. Otherwise, you will be very susceptible to the opinions and criticisms of others. Those people will always exist, so you need to be in a position where their influence is minimal or none at all.
Unfortunately, in this world, there are people who seek out weakness to exploit. This is why it is critical that you know the “why” behind your values and goals, so you can make confident decisions. When people exude confidence, it is much harder for others to tear them down.
The most vulnerable to criticism are those who are still beating themselves up over past money sins and haven’t forgiven themselves for making them. The pointed barbs from others echo their own internal bashing, which just reaffirms their negative beliefs about themselves. To help mitigate self-doubt, turn to your values and goals. When they are in alignment, they act as a beacon to help guide your decisions, even when you feel emotional. You stop second-guessing yourself or wondering if you made the right choice. You know you did.
Safety Tip: When faced with a choice, always ask yourself, “Will this bring me closer to my goal(s) or am I feeding an emotion?” to help you make confident decisions.
We live in a social media world where everybody knows everything about everyone. It can be difficult to keep things private or to a small group of trusted and supportive individuals. And when news expands beyond your tribe, the reaction to how you live your life can range from cheers to jeers. This is why I recommend that you carefully select whom you share your goals with because not everyone is in your corner.
Make sure you feel confident about your values and ability to honor them through keeping your goals before sharing them with others. Here’s why: think of a goal as a flower. It starts out as a seed, then grows into a beautiful flower with your love and attention. But flowers are also fragile, and a wrong step can flatten them. Those who love you can still inadvertently crush your goals, especially when they are still in a delicate, new-born state. A sturdy flower, with deep roots, is more apt to bounce back, even under tough conditions. When you have conviction around your values and goals, then you are ready to share with those who will be your biggest cheerleaders and more immune to those who are not.
This is a hard one, I know. Our feelings get hurt and/or we get defensive when people belittle our values and goals. We start questioning ourselves and wonder if they are right and we are wrong. Again, this goes back to being very clear as to what your values are and why, so that you can stand up to the judgment of others.
It’s important to remember that we are unique individuals and don’t necessarily value the same things. Even when we share a common, broad value, such as family, the way we choose to honor that value will likely differ from one another too, which is okay. We need to accept and respect that others may value things we don’t and honor mutual values in a different manner than us. Extend this courtesy to everyone, even when they are not so generous or understanding.
Many of the people who lash out and hurl cruel remarks at you often do so because they are hurting. Their anger and vitriol is less about you and more about themselves. They may be envious of you, or you may be a reminder that they haven’t dealt with their own mistakes. They feel bad, so they tear down your happiness to make themselves feel better. Don’t give them that power.
Safety Tip: It is also important to realize that judgment will happen from all sides. Spenders may push you to spend mindlessly. Savers may tell you that you shouldn’t want materialistic things. We all earn so much money every year, and it is our right and privilege to spend it on the things that matter most to us. Listen to your own heart and brain versus playing to their agenda.
It is easy to get caught up in all the judgment and negativity in the world. It can be a huge distraction and you can burn all your energy playing defense. I instead recommend that you focus your energy on creating the life you want. As best you can, surround yourself with like-minded and supportive people. Continue to let your values create your goals and guide your decisions. You will ultimately create the life you want for yourself, which is all that truly matters and the best response to silence your critics.
How do you handle criticism on how you use your money? What’s your best tip or advice to avoid letting the naysayers get to you?