My latest adventures have involved straightening out my business and personal finances. It’s something that I knew I needed to do, but found so overwhelming that I kept putting it off. So much to accomplish, no real understanding.
It turned out I only needed two things in order to get started:
- A road map.
- An attitude adjustment.
The road map turned out to be in a book I read this previous May, Cash Flow for Creators, by Michael W. Lucas. I’ve been friends with him on Facebook for a while, and I know him as a goofy smartass with rats. But, it turns out, he’s a financially responsible smartass as well, and is able to explain things clearly.
That addressed the first half of the problem.
The second half involved a bunch of random crap.
When I initially tried to write out this article in my journal pages, I went on a three-page-long, handwritten rant about the ways my parents had screwed me up about money, which were not insignificant, but not really relevant to the article I wanted to share. And, further, my education was the sort that separated art and money: if you make art, then why on earth would you expect to make money?
When you’re living your life with the attitude that money is scary and you’ll never make money doing what you love…well, that’s kind of terrible, and it sets you up for all kinds of failures. I may not have discovered all the ways it is possible to fail regarding money, but I think I found most of ’em.
Sadly, reading financial books wasn’t enough.
Most people who write financial books already respect money; they take for granted that it’s obvious that money should be treated in certain ways.
I had no idea that money was a thing that required respect.
I didn’t approach my attitude shift consciously; I didn’t even know there was an attitude that needed to be shifted. But here’s what ended up being important:
- Studying tarot for an upcoming series of novels.
- Starting on The Artist’s Way for the second time.
- Starting on a huge cross-stitch project.
None of these things make sense, if you’re starting from a position of respect for money. Why would studying the occult lead to solid financial advice? Why would doing a twelve-week artistic recovery program have anything to say about money? What on earth do craft projects have to do with being fiscally responsible? We all know the kind of financial damage a crafter on Etsy can do.
But when you’re looking for a fundamental change in attitude, it’s difficult to make changes from a starting point that assumes you already have the desired attitude.
- Becoming a confident public speaker.
- Facing a serious phobia, like agoraphobia.
- Going to that dentist’s or doctor’s appointment that’s been put off for years now.
- Drawing boundaries with an abusive family member.
- Standing up to bullies on Facebook (as in last month’s newsletter article, ahem).
Most people who can competently do those things—or at least not feel anxiety when considering them—give positive-sounding but useless advice: all you have to do is get started! Just take it in small steps! Just don’t let it be so hard!
What most well-meaning advice givers miss is the attitude change that happens before those techniques can work.
So how do we change our attitudes?
- Examining our assumptions.
- Situations that are so desperately urgent that they’re more compelling than our attitudes.
- Random crap.
The last item, random crap, is often known as “synchronicity,” “coincidence,” or “the universe providing a helping hand.” I’ve been trying to allow random crap more influence in my life. It’s a gentler way to change than the other two.
So here’s why those odd elements helped me change my attitude:
- Tarot: More than a few of the cards are about money, craftsmanship, and material success that drives other accomplishments.
- Artist’s Way: Every day, you have to journal about what’s bothering you, and right now what’s bothering me are money and finances…and creative blocks related to those things.
- Cross-stitch: I am working on a project that focuses me on literal material, but more figuratively on being consistent in small details, solving organizational puzzles (how can I stitch the front so the back doesn’t look like a spiderweb?), and not letting myself get tangled up as I try to make an ideal image of something.
Gradually, I started putting together the idea that I didn’t respect money. I feared any situation involving a close look at my finances, because money was dangerous.
But anyone who’s ever handled anything dangerous—like a car—knows that people who are terrified of a dangerous thing usually screw it up. Fear of a thing can be just as bad as being arrogant about it. The terrified student driver is just as bad as the one who learned everything they know in Grand Theft Auto.
My tarot deck whispered to me that I was letting other people push me around about money. The Artist’s Way rolled its eyes and told me that I had to bring what was in my head out into the material world, which would cost money…and, hey, treat myself better while I was doing it. My cross-stitch project said, You know how to do this already. The hardest part is choosing the big picture. After that, do your best, assume that you’ll make mistakes, and adjust the pattern slightly as you go.
If you’re struggling with money, you, too, may be having issues of fear and/or disrespect. In addition, you may have serious external setbacks that you have no control of, but still have to find a way to cope with. I’m sorry. Things will be even harder for you.
My advice here:
- Admit that you’re not where you want to be.
- Let it be uncomfortable. Don’t force yourself to move forward…but don’t blow off your discomfort, either.
- Listen to whatever coincidences come your way.
Coincidences, metaphors, inspirations, and other bootstrapping methods will come your way. Once you stop hiding from yourself the fact that you’re not where you want to be, they turn out to be all over the place. It’s called the “frequency illusion.” When you’re thinking about something, you’ll see it everywhere.
In other words: allow yourself some time for some random crap. Your subconscious is already shining a spotlight on what you need to see.
Here’s the cross-stitch pattern I picked, by the way:
(Artist’s Way: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/615570.The_Artist_s_Way)
(Cash Flow: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53402810-cash-flow-for-creators)