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At the beginning of a new year, many people resolve to do better at managing money. These resolutions often focus on past failures and ineffective financial behaviors in an effort to fix what isn’t working. Financial professionals like me often emphasize that same negative focus in our attempts to help clients work toward financial wellbeing.

What if this approach is backwards? Instead, it might be more effective to start by clarifying what financial wellbeing could look and feel like. This will be different for everyone, since financial wellbeing encompasses a range of traits that define one’s relationship with money.

One framework I use for defining financial wellbeing comes from my training in Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy. It is based on the characteristics of a healthy internal system led by one’s authentic Self, and I tie those characteristics to financial beliefs and behaviors.

This week we’ll look at five P’s that define wellbeing, along with their negative counterparts. You might think of these pairs as opposite ends of a spectrum and consider where you see yourself along the range between them.

1. Patience/Impatience

Patience includes being fully aware that financial wellbeing takes time, that setbacks (such as mistakes and investment downturns) are inevitable, and that long-term thinking is essential.

Impatience may involve expecting immediate financial results with little or no effort, blaming others or circumstances for setbacks, or shaming yourself when you aren’t able to make overnight changes in your financial behavior.

2. Presence/Distraction

When you are present, you are consciously aware of your current financial situation in the here and now. You are able to access thoughts, emotions, and sensations you have in reaction to your current financial situation without judgment. You are able to assess the reality of your current financial picture without undue influence from yesterday’s experiences or tomorrow’s expectations.

Distraction is when thoughts, emotions, and sensations around money focus on the past or the future, often accompanied by judgment and shame. Attempts to avoid this shame may lead you to avoid addressing money issues and focus on other activities, including those that are unimportant, irrelevant, or even harmful.

3. Persistence/Inaction

Persistence involves maintaining a continual commitment to improving your personal financial wellbeing and continuing to take action, even in the face of obstacles that come your way.

Inaction is a general lack of commitment and motivation to change, often rooted in fear and shame. You may be unwilling to move from a particular financial position or belief, or to risk changing a financial situation even when doing so is very likely to improve your financial wellbeing.

4. Perspective/Narrow-mindedness

A functional, balanced perspective means being open to new ways of viewing money, including your thoughts and emotions around it as well as your money scripts and stories you make up about your own financial behavior or that of others.

Narrow-mindedness is characterized by resistance to any exploration of new perspectives on money. You may refuse to consider alternative views, to reevaluate your thoughts, emotions, and stories related to money, or to listen to possible new options or explanations.

5. Playfulness/Grimness

Playfulness does not mean disregarding financial realities and responsibilities or taking excessive risks. It essentially is holding your self-reflection around your finances lightly. Bringing a spirit of playfulness to your relationship with money can allow you to enjoy saving, giving, and managing your money in ways that bring you joy.

Grimness means perpetually regarding money as a heavy burden, viewing managing your finances with fearful seriousness rather than as an opportunity to create financial wellbeing.

Next week we’ll continue to explore this topic with a look at the “eight Cs” that are also characteristics of financial wellbeing.

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