How’s your relationship with money? For many of us, dysfunctional is the word that comes to mind. Been there, done that. So this week I’ve got 5 Abundance Mindset Habits to help heal that relationship.
The way we think about money and the emotions it triggers impacts our careers. If our relationship with money is problematic, it hinders us from making good choices and taking positive action to move toward our goals.
How does this work?
For me, the emotions came in the form of a specific fear: that I’d become a bag lady and end up homeless. Totally irrational, but that was the fear that lurked in the wings when I needed to make big decisions. Buying a home, changing jobs, negotiating a book contract, and starting a consulting practice—all these brought up the fear.
So I’ve been on a mission to heal my relationship with money. And the good news is, yes, we CAN do it.
The problem is many musicians have negative associations with money. It comes in several varieties. Some musicians associate money with selling out, or with crass commercialism, greed, and mindless consumerism. We may think of money in terms of temptation, corruption, power, and evil. Some may think that being concerned with money—or even becoming informed about money—is somehow anti-artistic.
Thoughts about money may trigger feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, frustration, obligation, and low self-esteem. It can unleash fears that we don’t have enough, that we’ll never have enough, and that our career choice has been a huge mistake.
These fear-based thoughts and feelings cause avoidance. We avoid looking at our bank and credit card statements and we avoid learning about how to manage money.
Unfortunately, avoidance has consequences.
It leads to charging too little for lessons or gigs — out of fear that we won’t get the work. And we may fail to negotiate salaries thinking we shouldn’t rock the boat.
And if we avoid tracking our spending this can easily spiral out of control. Credit card debt anyone? Having a dysfunctional relationship with money has long-term implications for your lifestyle, health, and retirement.
It’s common for musicians to think — or pretend— that money doesn’t matter. After all, none of us were attracted to music for financial gain. But we live in an economy where money does matter. As author and entrepreneur Michelle Rose Gilman writes in a Huffington Post article:
Stop denying that money is important. You want shelter, food, clothes, healthcare? You get a tooth infection and need the dentist? You bet you need money! By denying that money is important you remain with little of it.
If you don’t pay attention to your money, you have no idea where it goes. If you want your relationship with money to improve you must pay it some attention. Think of it like a marriage. Stop ignoring it and start appreciating it.
At the root of most dysfunctional money relationships is the scarcity mindset, a concept first described by Steven Covey. Author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Covey writes:
Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else. The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life.
With scarcity thinking, our focus is on what we don’t have. This sense of deficit colors how we see the world. Where others spot opportunities, we may only see obstacles and risk. This leads to poor decision making because fear of change and of possible loss clouds our judgment. It keeps us rooted in comparison and score keeping. It shows up as resentment, jealousy, and above all, as fear. The scarcity mindset is a negative loop that keeps us thinking small.
Covey describes the alternative:
The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives and creativity.
With abundance thinking we appreciate what we have and what we’re doing that’s working so we start from a place of optimism. Our thinking and actions are positive and generous. So instead of comparing ourselves to others and resenting their success, we’re inspired and energized to learn from them. And this leads to being proactive in our networking, which leads to identifying more opportunities and embracing change. The abundance mindset promotes confidence and forward motion.
What we believe determines our motivations and our actions and these determine our outcomes.
To be clear: this isn’t about making a wish that magically comes true. It’s about taking action on what you actually believe.
The musician who believes she can fill her studio or the one who believes she can book a tour are the same musicians who will take the actions needed to make these things happen. Our actions and our eventual realities conform to our beliefs.
What do you believe?
Below are my best tips to heal your relationship with money through adopting the mindset of success.
Heal Your Relationship with Money with 5 Abundance Mindset Habits
1. Practice gratitude
Start each day with gratitude for what’s in your life now: it will change your outlook and your behavior. Gratitude promotes positive energy that can fuel your networking, your booking calls and emails, as well as your performances and your teaching.
Try keeping a gratitude journal. I like to bookend each day with making a list of what I’m thankful for (both big and small) that I notice and appreciate. This isn’t a mindless rote exercise. It’s important as you think of each person, experience, ability, or object in your life, to feel the gratitude. It makes the day start better and it helps me sleep better at night, too.
2. Curb the comparisons
If your addiction to personal devices is making you miserable, unplug. Limit the time you spend on social media. If you find, for instance, that time on Facebook makes you resentful of others’ success, focus on responding with positive wishes, curiosity, and a desire to learn from their example. Spread good Karma.
3. Learn from your own success
Focus on what’s working now or has worked in the past. The students you have, the gigs you’ve done, the concerts you’ve presented. Analyze what you did that worked and apply these principles to attract and uncover more opportunities. Things are easier if you start with seeing the glass half full.
4. Face your fears
When it comes to your money, you need to deal with reality, not hide from it. Sitting down and taking a few hours to fully understand your financial situation may be scary but it’s worth it. Look at any credit card debt and student loans. Take a close look at your income streams AND your expenses. Are you living below your means?
Once you have an accurate picture, you’ll be in a much better place to make wise choices about how to invest your time and resources so you can fill your performance calendar and your teaching studio. The Actors Fund has online resources to help creatives improve their financial well-being (and they offer in-person workshops and counseling in NYC and LA).
5. Focus on what matters most
It’s easy to spend time on what’s urgent and never get to what’s important. The urgent may include answering emails, responding to students, and managing immediate gigs. But that alone won’t grow your business. It’s essential that you also designate time each day for taking the actions needed to get the next students and the next gigs.
On the performance front, this means connecting (or re-connecting) with people who can hire you. Sending out proposals to presenters and contacting conductors, contractors, and possible collaborators. For teaching, it means connecting with people who can refer students to you and sending out proposals for workshops and teaching demos you can offer.
Want two examples of musicians’ abundance mindset in action?
I love this short video with a creative positive approach to booking performances. This is singer-songwriter Shannon Curtis explaining how she made $25K doing house concerts (7:38). No matter what the genre, the principles apply.
And check out percussionist Mike Johnston explaining how he attracted a full studio of students (6:29). He moved to a new city and put teaching artist skills into action to build a full private studio from scratch: his approach and attitude are inspiring.
This week: what abundance mentality habits will you take on? The time to start is now.
Looking forward to hearing from you:
Dream Big, Plan Smart. Live Well!