Hope Is Not a Strategy

Hope Is Not a Strategy

Are you hoping and praying that X, Y, or Z going to be the solution to your problem?

Mistaking hope for action can keep you in a holding pattern indefinitely.

I’ll let you in on a secret, hope is the dream stealer! You will never reach any of your goals if you rely on hope.

Why not?

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Hope is passive (imagine sitting around twiddling your thumbs) and lacks the “can do” attitude that really gets things done. Hope says that you want something different to happen, but you really don’t believe it will. 

In other words, it’s the voice of doubt. 

It steals the logic of deciding on the next right step to take in order to reach your goals.

Subscribe to the Financial Residency PodcastWhat’s True?

I recently talked with someone about a thought model. 

It takes reality into consideration for how things actually work (versus how you hope they will).  When you use a thought model it will prevent you from mistaking hope for action. 

It just so happens that there are five components that go into this model. 

The first component is the neutral facts, something that can be agreed upon. Any amount of student loan debt can be subjective.  

An example is any amount of student loan debt that someone has could be described as “very little” or “that’s a ton”. 

It all depends on a person’s perspective (or their thoughts about the amount). 

Vantage Points

Let’s talk about where our perspective comes from.

First, we have our thoughts. Then we have the feeling that our thoughts inspire. Our feelings express themselves in emotions. Our emotions are expressed in action (or sometimes mistaking hope for action). 

What emotion is driving you?

  • Fear
  • Panic
  • Dread

Thinking back on the student loan example, If any of these emotions are a driving force in your life, you may be tempted to play the ostrich and bury your head in the sand. That’s something I would never recommend. 

You’ll get the same result as mistaking hope for action.

Which is bad news when our actions create the results we eventually receive!

Where Thoughts and Feelings Lead

They can lead to mistaking hope for action.

When you do something you get a result. The same is true when you don’t do something, you will still get a result. 

What is interesting to note is that the result is always evidence of your original thought.

I can give you advice on your finances, and you’ll understand the basic concepts. You understand that you need to do certain things in order to get the result that we planned. 

However, your thoughts and feelings will drive the actions that you take (or inactions), which may include mistaking hope for action. 

I’m a registered life planner and during the first few meetings with a new client, I’m asking about your goals and what your ideal life might look like.  

There are so many physicians who have never actually thought about these questions. The answers are the foundations of your life.

As I said, there are so many people mistaking hope for action that it causes them to just consume the information. They sometimes have to be nudged into taking action.

Hope can definitely make you have a lack of focus!

Redefining Focus

How do you get past mistaking hope for action?

I would say taking some planned action!

Choose an action and stick with it until you see some results (or you notice you aren’t getting results). 

I’ve written about the different methods and apps for keeping track of your finances. The thing is you need to choose one, and learn how to use it. Then you have to give it time.

You are no longer mistaking hope for action, you’ve actually taken some action!

Negative Emotions

What does negativity have to do with it?

For one thing, It can turn you into an ostrich! 

It’s a naturally protective way to nullify the negative emotions we feel when faced with difficult financial situations that we don’t like

Negativity can also have you running to the nearest mall or Tesla store.

I’ve written about the effects of our emotions on our finances. And I’ve written about buying things to feel better in the moment and how consumerism panders to those whims. It’s another way of mistaking hope for action.

It feels good at the time of your purchase, but the endorphins fade…and you are left with more clutter (or an interest rate). 

And…you’re back to the situation you were running from in the first place. 

Which was mistaking hope for action in the form of an impulse purchase, which just wrecked your budget…oh no…more negativity the dreaded “B” word!

Dreaded “B” Word

Does the word dredge up negative emotions for you? 

In reality, having a budget can have the opposite effect. It allows you to “unleash the power of your paycheck”. It will set you free!

Instead of mistaking hope for action, there is power in telling your money where you want it to go. You’ll be satisfied if you choose according to your values.

Your budget should reflect what is important to you. It should take into account the plans you have for your future. 

I understand that we circle back to those negative emotions. It’s all about facing your fears. It’s really knowing and facing those feelings. As humans, we will do anything to avoid pain or feeling bad.

But taking charge can bring some of the positivity back!

In the beginning, you’ll spend some time tracking your spending habits. You might have to look backward, in order to figure out what you’ve been doing. It’s a case of tracking every penny, until at some point, you’ll have such ingrained habits that you’ll know you know where you stand. 

it doesn’t mean you completely delete your finance apps! 

But now you are aware of your spending habits.

Mistaking Hope For Action…and rewiring!

It’s called neuroplasticity. 

It’s taking the time to rewire your brain. 

First set yourself a goal…and then work backward.

  • Decide which actions you need to take.
  • Figure out which emotions will drive you to your goal.
  • Consider what temptations you might face (and proactively decide how to handle them).

It’s important to choose the emotion that you’ll let drive you to the new goal. 

There is a huge difference in your actions from when you’re feeling motivated and when you’re not.

The difference is between taking action and stalling out.

Your Money

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…you need to take some interest in your finances because no one should care more about your money than you. 

And when working with a fee-only financial planner don’t start mistaking hope for action. You must maintain your due diligence. 

Whoever you’re working with should be able to explain your finances in a way that you can easily understand.

I actually was reading in a major news publication that Americans spend 7,000 times more time watching TV every year than they do on their personal finances. The financial planner inside of me totally just died a bit when I read that. 

It comes back to this: it’s important to figure out what path you’re going down. 

Sometimes you’ll go down the wrong ones. Sometimes it’s not the easiest or the prettiest. 

Sometimes you have to change our mindset to get the work done.

Your Mindset

What do you need to do in order to move forward?

As one friend told me, it’s still worthwhile moving forward. However, sometimes in order to start that journey you need to get your head straight.

You have to feel connected to the outcome. 

There’s a percentage of physicians who are marinating in anger and resentment. They are miserable as doctors. They may have an incredible amount of debt. They feel like it keeps them trapped. 

It’s a place that can start to affect a physician’s physical and financial well-being. Now is the time to be aware of what you’re doing to avoid negative emotions. 

These are particularly harmful:

  • Drugs
  • Drinking
  • Overwork
  • Overeating
  • Impulse shopping

These are just a few there are as many ways to avoid negative emotions, as there are individuals. 

People fall into these traps unconsciously to feel better at the moment. It happens that they are short term solutions, that can cause long-term harm. 

There is a correlation between overspending to feel better, but the repercussion is a cluttered home, which has been proven to cause psychological stress.

It’s a snapshot of what is happening inside someone’s brain.

It can also be seen when you look at your financial picture. You may have several bank accounts and a slew of credit cards. 

I see a lot of overlap between a person’s financial organization and mental clarity. 

If you were organized and in control of your finances, then you would be annoyed that you have four different banks and 19 different credit cards and seven accounts at seven different banks. 

I definitely see the connection because if someone has a negative outlook on their finances, they tend to do one of those vices that I mentioned earlier.

There are people who are perfectly fine in their finances, they have organized and taken control of their accounts and budget. And yet they’re overweight and unhappy.

They may overspend because they can afford it, but that’s their coping mechanism. So people cope with things in different ways. 

There are tons and tons of overlap.

Physician Wealth ServicesFacing Life

What’s eating you?

Sometimes that addictive personality takes over and a person can stop one addiction, but you soon find a replacement addiction. You might jump from overeating to overspending–or something similar.

What if the addiction is overworking?

Physicians have this out that no one else has. They’ll work another shift (and another). It starts out as an incentive to take an expensive vacation. 

Then soon enough they are forced to take extra shifts because they’ve fallen into the lifestyle inflation trap.

These addictions may stem from an unwillingness to look at your life. Is there some underlying emotional truth behind your actions? Only you can answer that question and begin the process of healing the breach. 

Change is challenging and hard. It can feel daunting to start a major life change, and you will make excuses to avoid it.

Until you’ve had enough or start having analysis paralysis.

Analysis paralysis occurs when your ability to take action is impaired. It’s a lack of focus and decision-making ability. It can be like walking through a thick fog. 

Once you’ve experienced enough of the pain and indecision, you may be ready to break free. It requires a decision to make a change. 

You can try it on your own, or reach out for help. 

Just know that you don’t have to figure it out on your own. 

Tell us a little bit about your story. Are you ready to take action?

Ryan Inman