The hidden side of personal finance: How your brain works to control your essential money decisions
“One of the most stunning things is that the degree to which you act that is driven by mechanisms running under the hood,” Dr. David Eagleman, a neuroscientist.
The story of the powerful human subconscious is a story few money gurus tell. It is the driver behind the majority of ALL our decisions, including decisions involving personal finances. The large, submerged part of the mind is a mystery that needs to be understood and embraced.
Most people believe that sheer force of will and self-discipline are all they need to make better money decisions. However, neuroscience demonstrates that that is not true. So powerful, influential, and hard to govern is our unconscious mind that, if we fail to understand it, we will make mistakes with our money repeatedly.
Is there a way to “hack” your subconscious mind so that you can make better decisions about your money and other areas of your life? Make a solid, specific list of your 5-10 top financial goals Many of us like to make lists.
Unfortunately, most of those lists are so vague and non-specific that they aren’t beneficial when training the subconscious mind. Ask yourself, “What does success look like to me?” “What specifically do I need to do right now to make that happen?” “What do I want to with my life?” Write detailed descriptions of your visions and arrange them in order of priority.
A typical list might look something like this:
- Finish (or start) school or college.
- Improve my credit score to 750 or higher so I can get better loan rates.
- Pay off all my credit card debt.
- Find a location for my (insert name) business.
- Hire a business coach.
Once you begin the process of writing specific goals, you’ll probably discover that you have many. However, you want to keep your list short, only write down ten goals at most.
That makes it much less daunting when you begin training your subconscious mind.
Start teaching your subconscious mind to OBEY Your list consists of decisions you will make that will let you achieve your dreams. Unfortunately, the unruly unconscious mind will do everything it can to distract you and derail your plans. It will continuously find reasons it can’t do what you ask. Psychologists know that the subconscious mind suffers from what is known as “confirmation bias.” It tends to perceive everything that is input in terms of the way you make it feel. Thoughts, observations, and actions you put into your mind throughout the day DO make a difference. You can overcome confirmation bias by using simple, positive affirmations throughout the day that train your brain to enjoy success. This concept might sound a bit like “woo” science, but neuroscience experiments have confirmed that it works.
Train your subconscious mind to seek and solve problems
It’s a very human tendency, governed by your hidden mind, to avoid issues and discomfort. However, successful business owners, entrepreneurs, and corporate leaders understand that embracing problems and learning to solve them is an effective way to train the subconscious for success. Make a shortlist (5-10) of problems you regularly encounter and describe what you would do to solve them. Discoveries, improvements, and progress often come from fixing previously encountered problems. Teach your brain to be on the lookout for complicated issues and then come up with solutions.
The subconscious mind is equal parts fascinating and frustrating. You cannot shut it off with the flick of a switch. Developing a deeper understanding of this fantastic submerged universe within you will allow you a more considerable measure of control and lead to better money decisions.