It happens to all of us: it’s 2 a.m., and you can’t fall asleep because you’re stressed and worried — about bills, about looming deadlines, etc. You feel like you’re not enough.
But then other times, sometimes the very next morning, you’re at the other end of things — grateful for the riches in your life.
As financial advisors, the question of “How much is enough?” comes up often, and while we can do the math and come up with a number, the answer is also nonnumerical. It depends on our mindset.
Self-Inventory: Scarcity, Sufficiency and Abundance
Consider a spectrum, with abundance on one end and scarcity on the other, with “enough” as the resting point somewhere in the middle. That middle point is different for each of us, of course.
This exercise will help you to assess your mindset in different facets of your life and will also help you to evaluate the degree of balance between scarcity and abundance you are now experiencing.
Step #1: On each spectrum, indicate (with a dot, line or other notation) your current level of sufficiency in that particular area of your life. As you’re filling it out, notice how you’re evaluating and defining scarcity, sufficiency and abundance for yourself.
Step #2: Take a look. Which facets are balanced? How many are off-kilter? Are there areas that need attention? In what facets would you like to experience more sufficiency, or even abundance?
Oftentimes, cultural messages influence our mindset and convince us that we don’t have enough time, money, focus, talent — even that we ourselves are not enough. We are constantly barraged with these messages and they can be debilitating, costly, and limiting and can even have a lasting impact on our health and relationships.
Knowing when you have enough can be liberating and energizing. Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money, puts it this way: “When you let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need, which is what we’re all trying to get more of, it frees up immense energy to make a difference with what you have.”
How to Shift Out of a Scarcity Mindset
It’s important to shift our mindset from a place of scarcity to one of sufficiency. Here are some tips on how to avoid falling into a scarcity mindset:
- First, recognize the signs of a scarcity mindset. Do you believe situations are permanent? Immediately go right to the worst-case scenario? Feel envious of others? Overindulge? Don’t feel generous with your time or money? If we believe in lack, we often manifest these thoughts and behaviors by default, and they can have a negative effect in many regards. If this sounds familiar, try to seek out your own happiness, choose gratitude over envy, focus your time on what matters the most to you, and make a conscious effort to give more of yourself, invest your time in people, and serve the greater good.
- Identify what specifically is making you feel “less than.” Notice when you feel that you are coming up short and write it down. Consider the factors that led to this sense of deficiency and check them against reality and external factors that led you to feel that way.
- Notice how much time your past achievements have sustained you. If your sense of satisfaction fades quickly after accomplishing something great, it likely isn’t fulfilling to you. You may want to consider channeling your energy into something more aligned with you values.
- Harness social comparison syndrome. It’s easy to get caught in the “compare and despair” trap, especially with the prevalence of social media. We all experience this at some point! Acknowledge your envy without judgment. Get in touch with the aspiration underneath. Are you just using this opportunity to pull yourself down, or is this something you really want? If the latter, ask yourself what steps you might take to, for example, advance your career, or make travel plans of your own. It may take time, but setting an intention can point you in a positive direction.
- Create your own definition of success. Success for one person might be securing the job as a CEO of a company, while success for another might be a full-time job with flexibility so they can get home early to take care of their kids. Measure yourself against what your definition of success is, not someone else’s. Similarly, don’t let one thing define too much of who you are. Think about your self-worth in a holistic way: Are you a good parent, sibling, friend? Do you volunteer in your community? Do you participate in a sports league every week? Apply value to all aspects of your identity, not just if you’ve achieved the traditional prototype of success.
- Practice gratitude. While this always isn’t easy, choosing to be grateful is the antidote to feelings of scarcity. Take some time to reflect on the accomplishments you’re most proud of, and remember that once upon a time, they were all dreams. If you’re having trouble getting started, consider this common wisdom: “Remember when you wanted what you currently have.”
- Gather your own wolfpack. We are often taught to compare ourselves to, and compete against, our peers, and especially against other women. But life is not a zero-sum game! Surround yourself with women who celebrate your success, amplify your voice, and provide support when you fall — and make sure to do the same for them.