I can think of so many things in life that the title of this article can apply to. I personally have found that the real payoff comes from doing the inner work. Furthermore, it’s how to create change that will stick. And since we are a personal finance blog, I’ll add that this includes your finances.
Even the Bible Confirms
I read the following scripture recently…
“Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” – 1 Peter 3:3-4
In no way do I think this says that the braiding of hair, wearing gold or dressing up is bad. It just says that the greater thing to focus on is the inner work of the heart. That is what will produce real and imperishable beauty. Whoa, I was convicted when I read this! Moreover, when I pondered it, I realized that I’ve discovered this time and time again in my life. The reason I’ve stayed sober and/or paid off debt and maintain a debt-free lifestyle is that I first did the inner work.
Here’s another scripture to confirm what I’m talking about:
“For as he thinks in his heart so is he.” – Proverbs 23:7
Change is Hard
Let’s face it, change is hard. It’s much easier to stay in your comfort zone of what you know. However, if you want to grow whether it be spiritually, emotionally, physically or financially, you are going to need to change!
I was having a talk with a friend the other day about some of our bad habits that were formed in our formative years. We both agreed that we can never really rest on our laurels even after all the inner work we’ve done. These things have a way of creeping back in if we are not on our guard. We must be watchful and intentional. I would argue this is a fight worth fighting for the rest of your lives. I know it’s one I’ll continue to fight.
My fighting now is done on my knees in prayer as I’ve found this to be the most effective battleground.
So you may be saying, “Deanna, this is great but what steps do I take to create the inner change you are speaking of?” Well, I’m so glad that you asked. I have a superfluity of recommendations and most are free!
I’m an active leader in Celebrate Recovery but don’t let the name recovery fool you. This is a program that everyone can benefit from. Our tagline is that we celebrate recovery from life’s hurts, habits and hangups. Who doesn’t have one of those??
Seriously, that includes recovery from basically anything. Here are some of the things I’ve seen people come to find recovery from – anger, depression, codependency, drinking, drugging, divorce, grief, etc, etc.
In this program, you’ll learn about the 12 steps (of which I’m a fan!) and how they apply to your life. Additionally, the steps will aid you in some deep soul searching. You’ll learn what you have control over and what you don’t.
Additionally, you’ll identify the typical role you play in situations and maybe uncover why you keep ending up in the same types of relationships over and over again. Furthermore, you’ll learn how to forgive and be forgiven. It’s really good stuff and the friendships you make in such a program are deep.
Other Recovery Programs
If you prefer to join another type of recovery program for a very specific issue you may have, I can appreciate that. I started out my journey in another anonymous program. I have an entire listing of such awesome programs on my Recovery Resources page. Check ’em out!
Join a church and a life group. Some of the best relationships I have are with the people I do church with. We cry, share, pray and grow together. Basically, we do life together but most important point each other back to God. We never claim to have all the answers.
Don’t think you have to get it all together to go to church. The church is supposed to be a place where sick people come to get better…together.
Okay, this one isn’t free but it can be very helpful if you find a therapist whom you are very comfortable opening up with. Additionally, if I were looking for a therapist, I’d search one out who has the same faith as I because I see a lot of overlap in therapy and spirituality. If faith is important to you, keep that in mind when you begin your search.
A good place to start your search is with your insurance network. All insurance carriers have a website with a “find a doctor” section. You can search for therapists there.
However, you may want to start with your church for suggestions if faith is a valuable component of your therapy. I’ve found that some of the best therapists don’t participate in any insurance networks. Don’t necessarily let that deter you. May I suggest scheduling one meeting to see if it’s a fit. If yes, see if you can add this to your budget and at what frequency. If you need to save up some money to begin, do that.
Track Your Time & Thoughts
Maybe you track your finances (I hope so if you are reading this blog!!) but how about your time & thoughts? It might be a very useful starting point in figuring out how you need to change.
I suggest keeping a journal on hand and literally recording what you do each day in time blocks. Moreover, record any negative self-talk that occurs throughout your day.
Don’t judge yourself as you begin this exercise but simply record.
At this point, you are just gathering thoughts. Later, when you have a month or more of data, you can assess what areas of your life you’d like to focus on.
Here’s a hint – pick the glaringly obvious area and just focus on that. I’ve found that when I focus on making a big change in my life (like getting sober) out of it pour many other secondary changes. If you focus on too many things at once, it can be overwhelming.
Get a Financial Plan
If any of the above steps strike a chord with you, I recommend that you do that first before focusing on a financial plan. Why? Because, if there are unresolved underlying issues you’ll just keep falling back into any negative spending or financial habits until you face the root problem.
Everything affects our pocketbooks.
When I got sober, I first and foremost focused on my recovery and reconciling with my past. Then about four years into recovery, I was really ready to work on my financial life.
Do you know what? Now that I’m out of debt, I’m able to maintain it.
I firmly believe it’s because I know, understand and have healed from the roots of my problems. Do I still have work to do? You betcha! However, I’ve gained a level of healing such that I no longer look for a crutch to escape to when the going gets tough.
Once you feel ready for a financial plan, I’m here for ya! I’ve got a page dedicated to debt freedom with a bunch of articles geared and helping you budget and formulate a plan. I’m working on putting a section together on saving and investing but for now, here’s a good starter article on that topic.
Life is messy and we are all imperfect. At some point in our adult lives, we need to come to terms with the things that may be holding us back. It’s time to focus on you. Some people may think that sounds selfish but trust me it’s not. If you are still a wounded warrior, you need help before you can again help others.
When I came into recovery people told me it was like the directions on an airplane. You must first secure the oxygen mask to yourself before helping your child. The reason is that if you cannot first breath, how in the heck are you going to be able to help a child?
Go inward but don’t do it alone. Get a support team and then go deep. The rest will follow – I promise!