PART II: CONFUSION
Confusion can be paralyzing when it comes to dealing with financial issues.
Confusion is the state of mind between where you are and where you want to go.
If you don’t want to be where you are,
but don’t know where you’re headed
it’s difficult to move forward, to take action, to make decisions.
SHE DESPERATELY WANTED A FINANCIAL PLAN. . .
Izzy (not her real name), wanted desperately to have a financial plan. We met, talked about her dreams, listed out the trips she wanted to take, the home she desired to create. Each appointment she would begin by saying, “I had this list you gave me… changing my beneficiaries, deciding how to invest the money from the sale of my house… but I’ve done nothing. This is so frustrating and I’m mad at myself for not moving forward.”
HER RELATIONSHIP WAS CAUSING CONFUSION. . .
She was in a relationship with a woman who didn’t want to participate in the planning process, and this made Izzy step back and begin to ask deeper questions about their relationship. She found it hurtful that her partner didn’t care enough to do an estate plan, or be in conversation about their finances. This ambivalence about the future resulted in an inability to make important decisions like who to put down as her beneficiaries on life insurance and retirement accounts.
SIX MONTHS LATER, A BOLD STEP. . .
It wasn’t until six months later, when Izzy made the bold move of leaving the relationship, that suddenly things opened up, and started to get accomplished. The paralysis lifted and she was able to make decisions based on being single rather than trying to pull an unwilling partner along the path with her.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
How has confusion about the future impacted your relationship with money?
Here are some common situations where confusion leads to financial procrastination:
- You don’t know if you’ll have a job next year, or next week, and therefore aren’t sure how to invest, save or prepare.
- You got burned by the stock market crash, know that you need to be investing, but can’t figure out how to do it without getting an ulcer.
- You are at an impasse with your spouse about your family’s goals and priorities.
- You are grieving a loss (death of a loved one, relationship ending, health issues) and don’t have clarity about what direction you want to go.
- You are waiting for your relationship to change…. Waiting and waiting for the other person to get their act together because you don’t know how to act independently.
I lean into my training as a psychotherapist for dealing with this: there is an art to honoring where you are, working your way through the feelings while at the same time making small financial steps forward. (click to tweet)
What can you do if you are stuck not wanting to be where you are?
Begin to move. Ask for help. Be gentle but firm with yourself.
BEGIN TO MOVE. . . MAKE A LIST.
Make a list of the things you need to do to get back on track financially (and if you don’t know how to create this list there are people called financial planners, specifically trained to help you through this…just sayin’!)
It might look like this:
- Fund my Roth IRA for 2013: $5,500
- Create a will and power of attorney
- Change the beneficiaries on my 401k and IRA (still have my ex on them! Yikes!)
- Make appointment with my CPA— need to understand my damn taxes
- Tell my best friend where I keep all my important documents
- Find out how much interest I’m paying on the mortgage
Completing each one of these tasks has a feeling associated with it. Which item on the list will give you the best feeling when completed? Do that one first. Do it because of how good it will feel. Do it because you care about yourself.
And don’t, I repeat, don’t beat yourself up if this is hard to do.
IMPERFECT IS OKAY. . .trust yourself.
It’s okay to ask a friend or professional to help you. It’s okay to do it imperfectly. Just begin to move forward even if you don’t know exactly where you are headed. Ask directions. Listen deeply. Trust yourself.