How to Overcome Financial Pressure

We just wrapped up the 2020 launch of Conscious Growth Club, and our next opening will be in April 2021. The launch did very well. We have 87 members enrolled in our next CGC year together. Financially this was our second six-figure launch of the year, the previous one being for the Stature course in January.

I received some feedback from people who really wanted to join CGC this year (some of them waiting months to sign up) but couldn’t do it because of financial challenges, especially related to the virus. Some had been recently laid off. Others have been reporting a business slowdown. Others are uncertain about the economy and want to conserve cash. All of this is totally understandable, and I’d never pressure anyone to join CGC if it would mean overextending themselves financially.

I spent most of my 20s broke and in debt and went through a bankruptcy in 1999. Financial stress was a big issue for me back then. So let me share some insights on how to reframe financial pressure, so it doesn’t keep haunting you and stressing you out for the rest of your days.

Framing Financial Pressure

How do you frame the presence of financial pressure, such as bills or expenses you’re not sure you can cover?

One way is to see such pressure as an annoyance. Maybe it’s something that pushes your buttons emotionally. But if you see it as something that irritates or bothers you, you’ll probably try to avoid dealing with it. Since this framing doesn’t help you resolve the source of the pressure, the pressure just continues.

The annoyance framing often leads to escapism. Many people try to retreat into using the law of attraction to fix their money problems, but that doesn’t usually work when the underlying relationship with financial pressure is rooted in annoyance.

Another option is to escalate it into a threat. Sometimes this will happen as an extension of framing financial pressure as an annoyance. If you avoid dealing with financial problems, they can multiply, and eventually the pressure becomes great enough that some part of your livelihood feels like it’s under threat. Maybe you’re at risk of losing your home, for instance.

Beyond that, you could try surrendering, which can grant some temporary relief emotionally, but by itself this doesn’t resolve the financial pressure either. You may feel a bit better, but you could still lose your home.

There’s also the obligation framing. I think this is mostly the annoyance framing in disguise. You may see financial pressure as a part of life where you just have to suck it up and deal with what arises. It’s not pretty, so just grit your teeth and handle it. But this framing tends to result in punting the problems to the future. You’ll do the minimum necessary to handle the immediate pressure, but it will just keep coming back for another round.

A Framing That Works

A framing that worked very well for me was to see financial pressure as an invitation. I imagine that reality is trying to help me train up my character in a positive way. The existence of financial pressure is an important part of the character training.

Imagine hiring a personal trainer to help you improve your fitness, and then framing your workouts as annoying, threatening, or obligatory. Are these really the best frames to use? How would your trainer feel about that?

It would make more sense to reconnect with the purpose for hiring the trainer and then connect with that purpose-driven frame as the reason for doing your workouts. This would establish a better relationship with your trainer as well, one based on mutual respect.

Do you respect the trainer that is financial pressure? Do you frame its presence as purposeful? Or do you treat it disrespectfully, like it’s some kind of scourge?

Having a strong purpose is a good motivator. Seeing the greater purpose behind a challenge makes the challenge feel more engaging and less stressful.

Be Trainable

When I was in my 20s, I wasn’t very trainable. I was most uncooperative when financial pressure made its presence known. I rejected its offer again and again, repeatedly slamming the door in its face. I kept trying to run from it and find respite. If only I could somehow make enough money, then it would stop chasing me.

Because of my framing, I believed that the solution to my problems was to make more money. But this is like saying that the best way to avoid doing difficult workouts is more fitness. If only you could become fit enough, then you wouldn’t have to workout anymore, and you’d no longer have to deal with that annoying personal trainer. So forget the trainer and just become more fit. Then you can ditch the trainer. Yeah, that makes sense. 😕

That sounds pretty silly when we look at it this way, right? Can you also recognize just equally silly it is to imagine that more money is the solution to financial pressure?

Embracing your financial pressure and respecting its purpose in your life is the solution. Say yes to the training invitation.

Do Your Financial Workouts

Just as I learned to accept and embrace the importance of physical exercise, I learned to embrace the importance of doing financial workouts too.

And just as it’s helpful to find exercise that you’ll like, it’s also helpful to discover the financial workouts you like. You have many options.

A financial workout could mean getting all of your accounting in good order. That’s pretty basic, but if that’s all you do, it will probably get a bit boring. There are people, however, who like this kind of financial workout, including updating their accounts daily. I’m happy to do these kinds of workouts monthly or quarterly though.

The financial workouts I enjoy most include exploring and testing creative and purposeful ways to generate income while serving others and enjoying the process. So they’re compound workouts that hit a lot of muscle groups.

I started small and worked my way into bigger workouts, just like you might do with physical training.

In the mid-1990s, I started learning how to generate income without having a job – badly at first and eventually with some modest degree of competence. I remember launching a computer game in 1999 that sold 50 copies at $10 each in its first month, so $500. The next month it did $1000… and $1500 the month after that. That was an exciting experience. But the real workout was to stretch my creative skills to design and code a game that could generate that result. Then I had to stretch myself to promote it widely.

I didn’t really frame it quite like this at the time, but looking back I realize that I kept giving myself interesting progressive training challenges with respect to money. I kept doing financial workouts of one kind or another. And the more I did that, the more my finances improved.

If you want to survive in business, then of course you have to find ways to generate income. But I think it’s especially helpful to frame these activities as financial workouts.

Doing your financial workouts is an intelligent way to deal with financial pressure. Build up your financial skills, so you can face that pressure from strength. And don’t get complacent.

Slacking Off

Just as we can slack off of exercise, we can also slack off from doing our financial workouts. I fell into that trap too. I could say I was focused on other parts of life, which was true, but I also let myself stagnate in the area of finances for some years. I kept doing token financial workouts (like affiliate deals) that were easy for me, but I wasn’t progressing.

What got me back in the game was to discover financial workouts that looked fun and engaging again. Just trying to make more money doesn’t cut it for me. I find that rather boring.

But if the constraints for a financial workout are just right, then it appeals to me, perhaps even excites me. If the workout looks fun and rewarding, then I’m much more drawn to do it. But if I only see boring workouts being accessible, then I’ll slack off.

And of course where do we find those interesting workouts? We find them outside of our comfort zones. We find them where we don’t dare to look.

Embrace the Training

Training is challenging, whether physical or financial. Don’t expect it to be otherwise if you’re doing it right.

Good training takes us outside of our comfort zones. When we become too comfortable, that’s when we need to mix things up and reintroduce novel forms of challenge.

Daily blogging is a form of training for me. I’ve never blogged every single day for a year, but I’m doing it this year. It’s not always easy, but I like what it’s doing for my character. It’s helping me become more focused, disciplined, and organized. My life and work have much better structure this year than last year.

For my financial workouts, I like doing creative launches. I love to use my creativity, resourcefulness, playfulness, and personal growth experience to create value for people. Then I like to combine that with making honest and ethical offers. This combo is challenging. It stretches me to train in areas that are weaknesses for me, such as advertising. But I like seeing myself continuing to get stronger. This last launch went very smoothly, and I’m seeing the benefits of my skills improving from doing the training – while also spotting more areas where I’d like to train harder.

The money isn’t the reward. That’s like saying that the reward is being able to lift a certain amount of weight. Money is just a number, and the weight is just a hunk of metal. Making more money isn’t the point at all.

The point is to train up your character to grow stronger.

When you use this framing, you won’t have to see financial pressure as your enemy. Allow it to be your friend instead. It’s an invitation to grow stronger.

You have many options for how you train. It matters more that you exercise than what kind of exercise you do, as long as you’re challenged and you’re growing and improving from the training effect.

If, however, you disrespect this invitation, reality isn’t going to reward you for that. The financial pressure will just keep haunting you year after year until you respect and accept its invitation.

Believe it or not, I actually like financial pressure these days. It’s fun. It’s like the invitation to lace up my running shoes and hit the road for a delightful pre-dawn run of a few miles. I used to majorly dislike financial pressure, but since that mindset didn’t work, I opted to befriend the pressure instead. That does work – very well in fact.

Just as there’s such as thing as runner’s high, it’s also fun to experience a high from financial workouts. Having a six-figure week is fun and stimulating. It’s so not about the money though, just as weight training isn’t about the weights. It’s about the experience and the training effect. It’s about being present to the challenge.

Financial pressure is not a demon, so don’t demonize it. If you do that, you’ll just stress yourself out. The trainer isn’t your enemy. Make the trainer of financial pressure your friend instead. Accept the invitation to push yourself. Find the financial workouts that appeal to you, and do them. Keep upping the challenge, so you don’t remain stuck in your comfort zone.

Most importantly, don’t train with the goal of making more money. Train with the goal of strengthening your character. Choose financial workouts that with this in mind, and you’ll make better choices. Otherwise you may try to find shortcuts to circumvent the training, equivalent to lifting heavier weights by using a forklift, which would defeat the purpose.

I chose to develop and launch courses as well as CGC not because these were convenient shortcuts to greater financial abundance but because they’re hard workouts. These projects challenge me deeply. They cause me to spend a lot of time training outside of my comfort zone. And I like the results of that. They’re great workouts for my character.

Making more money isn’t the real progression here. The progression is to transform yourself from a person who tries in vain to stay in your comfort zone into a person who embraces the growth benefits of uncomfortable challenges.