Overcoming Limiting Financial Beliefs

What limiting financial beliefs are holding you back from achieving all the wealth and abundance you deserve?

The Million Dollar Experiment has yielded a surge of emails containing stories of how participants have uncovered and broken through self-limiting financial beliefs. Even those who haven’t manifested any money yet have told me how the simple act of focusing on attracting greater wealth and abundance (for the highest good of all) has caused internal resistance to surface. And then such resistance can be dealt with consciously. A few people have told me that overcoming these hidden blocks is even more important than the money itself.

Everyone seems to have different blocks. For some people it’s the notion of having excess cash — more than is needed for survival — that causes discomfort. For others it’s the whole idea of being rich and the negative associations they’ve learned to connect with rich people (greedy, selfish, evil, corrupt, etc.). And some people have told me it’s a self-esteem problem that has to do with feeling undeserving of extra money and therefore being blind to financial opportunities.

Tony Robbins devotes a segment of his Personal Power II program to the topic of financial mastery, and he says the primary reason we don’t experience financial abundance is that we have negative associations to having more money than we need. That’s a controversial statement, but I think he’s spot on. The hard part though is identifying what these blocks are. Most are installed in early childhood, and they become so internalized that we’re usually not even consciously aware of them. We take such limiting beliefs for granted without even noticing how readily they sabotage us or how downright stupid they are.

My #1 financial block was my resistance to the concept of making money very easily, almost effortlessly. I learned in childhood that money was the result of hard work. Although I received occasional gifts for holidays and birthdays, if I wanted extra money I usually had to labor for it in some way. I carried this belief with me through many years of entrepreneurship. If I wanted to make more money, my strategy always seemed to be based on hard, hard work.

This belief seemed very logical and intelligent to me. How could a strong work ethic be a bad thing? But after reading Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth, I came to see just how utterly foolish this pattern was. Hard work is great, but this belief was causing me to pass up far easier ways to earn money. I was confusing effort with value, and it was making me blind to opportunities for making money by leveraging my value instead of simply working harder and longer. When I started focusing on value instead of effort, I was able to make a decent living by working fewer hours (no more sleeping at the office), and I began establishing multiple streams of income that were largely passive (royalties, internet sales with automated digital delivery, host-beneficiary deals, etc.). All of this came about after I dumped the belief that hard work was a requirement for making money. Another belief I dumped was the idea that I had to earn money by trading my time for it. Those changes happened many years ago, but I’ve continued to uncover and purge more limiting beliefs since then.

On the web you’ve probably noticed there’s an almost cult-like aversion to making money in certain circles. I’ve seen this to some degree among fellow bloggers. The Starving Student model is held in high esteem, while entrepreneurial bloggers are seen as more cold and ruthless, as if they somehow care less about their audience or they’re just in it for the money. I feel sad for the bloggers who buy into this limiting belief. Realize that whenever you attempt to monetize anything online, people will whine about it. But that doesn’t mean you have to succumb to group think and sabotage your own financial results in the process. The mentality that everything should be free is popular among teenagers who are still suckling off their parents and who can’t afford to pay for much. It’s nice to be able to provide some value for free, but that model often doesn’t serve the highest good of all.

I don’t subscribe to the belief system that would have me sacrificing myself on the altar of free. In my opinion a better model can be found in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. I don’t consider myself an objectivist, but this happens to be one of my all-time favorite fiction books because it conveys such an interesting philosophy. I loved Rand’s take on value for value exchanges. People of high integrity deal with each other by trading fair value for value, but those same people deal with manipulative leeches very differently — by the end of the book, they basically leave the leeches behind and refuse to do business with them at all. I’m not so severe as Rand in this philosophy, but I do find it helpful to think of making fair value for value exchanges and ignoring those who make requests which I consider to be unfair or win-lose. I provide lots of free content so that everyone can benefit, but I’m also fair to myself. I want my work to be win-win. You win. I win. But there are quite a number of people who make requests of me that are clearly win-lose. I simply ignore them. As I mentioned in a previous article on selfishness, I believe in finding a place where service to self and service to others become the same thing. I’ve seen that serious problems result whenever there’s a conflict between the two. I have no interest in being a greedy, self-centered, money-hungry pig, nor do I wish to be a self-sacrificing martyr. My “greed” is directed at increasing abundance for myself and others simultaneously. I put a lot of thought into aligning my good with the highest good of all, such that both are able to point in the same direction.

Many people have pointed out to me that this site has a lot of ads, far more than most blogs. Duh. You’d have to be blind not to notice that. But the reason for all those ads is very simple — people keep clicking on them. Those ads now generate thousands of dollars a month in income for me. They’re paying my family’s mortgage, health insurance, etc. I also use this income to expand the service I’m able to provide. Early ad revenue paid for all my podcasting equipment as well as for a web server upgrade. I’ve been able to put up a lot of content because I don’t have to worry about doing other things just to make money. I’m able to focus my energy on value creation. The ads haven’t prevented me from building traffic either. I’ve already gotten more than a 40x increase in traffic since the beginning of the year, so even if the ads did slow the growth rate a bit, I’m OK with that. If the traffic grew at a faster rate, I’d have trouble keeping up. The ads also create value for the advertisers, most of whom offer products and services related to personal development (which I happen to like). If the ads were irrelevant, very few people would click on them, and I would not be monetizing the site this way. I’ve experimented with a number of different ad layouts, and I’m having a hard time beating the current layout. It’s amazingly effective. I can speculate endlessly about why it works, but for now I just know that it does. I test and tweak things every month and continue to experiment.

If I kept a much lighter ad layout on the site — more typical of what you’ll find on other blogs — I estimate my income from this site would be about 20–30% of what it is now. That comes straight out of my pocket. I think the current trade off is a fair balance between martyring myself to do everything for free and requiring a fee to access the content. I like being able to give so much content away for free, so it’s accessible to everyone. Ayn Rand probably wouldn’t like that I do this, but I want to help people that can’t afford to pay anything. I’m perfectly OK with the fact that some people are bothered by the ads (there are few things I do that don’t bother somebody somewhere). The ads are perfectly escapable for anyone who chooses to do so. If you don’t like ads, you can always view the blog content ad-free via the RSS feed. You can also print out any page of the site, and it will be formatted nicely with no ads. I considered doing a subscription service, but that would hurt traffic growth, since it means locking content away from search engines and killing the potential for incoming links to specific articles. In 2006 I intend to experiment with other revenue models, but the current system is my control to which everything else will be compared.

A year ago I was very anti-advertising. For the first four months I didn’t have any ads on this site at all. Then someone suggested I try Google Adsense, and in my usual fashion of diving in and testing things first-hand, I gave it a go. I’m quite amazed at how well it works. My Adsense revenue has gone up by more than 50% per month on average since the I started in February — we’re talking about a 40x increase over a period of 9 months. And December’s daily average is already up 55% from the daily average for November. I don’t know how much longer this growth rate can sustain itself, but it creates some pretty exciting prospects for 2006. Even if I maintain only a conservative 10% monthly increase through 2006, that will more than triple my ad income. And 20% would yield a 9x increase.

Fear mongers would probably worry about an online ad industry crash. But if that happens, I’ll simply adapt to another revenue model. There are a zillion ways to monetize web traffic.

In order to reach this point, I had to follow my intuition and tune out all the fear-based thinking that would prevent me from enjoying greater financial abundance. I had to consciously work out my own philosophy of wealth and abundance. For me it’s based on creating value for others and receiving a fair compensation for that value. Not greed. Not self-sacrifice. Not worry about what others might think.

I suggest that if you wish to achieve greater financial abundance for yourself, and especially if you’re participating in the Million Dollar Experiment, take some time to seek out the source of your own resistance to achieving greater wealth. For example, does the idea of becoming rich seem in any way offensive or repulsive to you? Explore those beliefs. Journal about them. Take a conscious look at them, and decide if these are really the beliefs you wish to hold. Are your financial beliefs aligned with serving your good as well as the highest good of all?