The fear of running out of money and its consequences – from not being able to put food on the table or a roof over your head – is so primal and human. Especially if you have dependents to support.

Fear has its uses when we’re facing a real danger to life and limb. It’s purpose is to get us to respond quickly and decisively.

However, as a long term motivator, we should question how effective it is. Otherwise, the survival mindset can become a default setting and simply normalised. You might ask: what’s wrong with that, it protects me?

There are two main drawbacks:

  • if you do achieve success, the survival mindset will inhibit your ability to enjoy your success. I’ve known many people who on paper are very wealthy, but their minds are still stuck in poverty consciousness – they can’t allow themselves to relax sufficiently to savour what they have,
  • fear distorts our vision so we can’t see what’s in front of us clearly. That means we miss opportunities, we miss possible solutions.

When you have a financial decision to make, fear of getting it wrong and consequently making a loss, is normal and in some ways it’s healthy. The fear spectrum stretches from mindful caution to frozen terror. We need to develop enough self-awareness to understand where, in a particular situation, our fear sits along this spectrum. Only then can we judge whether our fear is serving us or sabotaging us.

Suggested exercise: examine your fear. If it increases your level of alertness so you’re paying more attention to the situation at hand, then it’s beneficial. If it becomes hyper-vigilance, so that it blots out parts of the situation you’re dealing with, then it may not be beneficial.

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