Today, whatever your current financial position, you are there because of your behavior. Nothing will change in your financial world until your behavior changes. Let’s take a bit of a time out to look at the drivers behind our good and bad behaviors.
Wellness experts Jan Bruce, Andrew Shatté and Adam Perlman, authors of meQuilibrium: 14 Days to Cooler, Calmer, and Happier, say from the moment we can think, we’re building beliefs about ourselves, our world and our place in the world. By the time we are 12 years old our beliefs are largely set in stone.
Psychologists use an iceberg metaphor to explain human behavior. It’s called the Iceberg of Emotions. It gives us a really simple analogy to understanding the elements that are driving behavior and actions.
Only 10 percent of an iceberg is visible above the waterline. A whopping 90 percent of the iceberg is below the surface of the water, out of sight. Our emotions and behaviors can be like that. Our behaviors are the visible 10 percent of the iceberg, and the drivers behind our behaviors are the unseen 90 percent.
We can see behaviors but we can’t see what’s going on under the surface. As spectators of others’ behavior, we don’t know where those behaviors are coming from. The theory is that it’s our values, ethics and beliefs that drive our thinking; our thinking drives our emotions; and our emotions drive our behaviors.
The iceberg metaphor gives us a window into understanding the drivers of our behavior and the behavior of those around us.
Think about it for a moment. If I have a value around health and fitness, then it’s going to form part of my thinking. For me, it’s perfectly okay to go jogging in the rain because exercise is so important. So my behavior, what’s visible to the world, is me running in the rain. Other people might look at me and think I’m crazy. They can’t see my values and my drivers. Or, say, for example, I have a value around education. Then I think that education is important; it’s one of the most important things in the world. Then it’s okay for me to spend the weekend studying. I’m happy to give up my free time to study. In fact, it’s easy for me. It’s not even a challenge. My values and my thinking are that education is important. Other people might think I’m crazy spending all my spare time studying. It doesn’t seem healthy. Maybe I should get out and go for a run in the rain.
Understanding your own behavior and the behavior of others will give you a powerful insight and help you to understand what’s going on for people.
When I worked in a training organization, we would often see unusual behavior in students. Our goal was not to judge the behavior but to look beyond their actions to examine what was driving that behavior. We always found that it was something to do with a belief they held or their way of looking at things.
When you dig below the surface, you will find the drivers behind your finances. Some drivers will serve you well and help you to manage and maintain your finances; other drivers will sabotage you and stop you from reaching your goals.
What I like to do is combine the things that are the most important to you (values) and package them together with your financial goals. When your values are aligned to your spending, then facing your finances stops being a burden and becomes an empowering experience. Lots of clients shyly admit after their first appointment that it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as they imagined it might be.