THE EYE-OPENER

Photo by maitree rimthong on Pexels.com

Recently, I watched a show on Amazon Prime entitled, “Suze Orman, the Financial Road Map”. And yes, it was an eye-opening experience. The concepts that were taught to assist in a financial check-up, to serve as a financial elixir, and to potentially increase financial health were retirement road, priority place, emergency fund lane, and the streets of truth and honesty. Well, it was definitely something along those lines. The funny thing is that this episode was a part of the 2015 season.

The things I learned as I watched this episode were simple. 1). It’s not enough just to know how to do something; we must apply what we learn with consistency. 2). Knowing our current reality and patterns of behavior are prerequisites for forward movement. 3). A change of mindset about how I managed my finances in the past was long overdue; and I am ready to embrace this change.

It’s Not Enough just to know how to do something; we must apply what we learn with consistency. You’re like me if you made any of the following statements… I know that it is good to start a retirement account, prioritize my spending, or to start an emergency fund or savings account. You are also like me if you have made such efforts and you were not as consistent as you could have been. Knowing to do something or knowing how to do something is only part of the equation; we must actually put forth the work to get it done. We must be willing to sacrifice some things, some patterns of behavior, and understand where we are so that we can move forward. Uncontrollable finances can cause factors such as stress, obesity, fatigue, working at dead end jobs that can all lead to epigenetic changes in the DNA. IF you want to know more about epigenetics and factors that can modify epigenetic patterns, please visit, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3752894/.

Know your current reality. If you research how much should we put back from each paycheck for savings, you will find suggestions such as 5%-20%. There is a rule of thumb that states that we should have a 50/30/20 rule.This is consistent among multiple resources. 50% of our income should go to expenses; 30% of our income should be discretionary purposes; and 20% of our income should go to savings. I think this is a good optimal goal to strive for if you can clearly see where your money is going. I implore you to figure out a formula that works for you if you are unable to realistically meet this goal. Whatever formula that you choose, let it be S.M. A. R. T.

In order for your goal to be S (Specific) M (Measurable) A (Attainable) R (Realistic) T(Timely), you must truly understand your current reality. Make sure your current reality is visible to you so that it is no longer hidden. For instance, write down all the bills that you are responsible for paying each month. Once you do this, compare this to your monthly income. Determine your debt to income ratio. Will you like what you see? If yes, determine your formula for savings. If not, it’s time to take steps to decrease the debt to income ratio.

I learned that the debt to income ratio represents positive financial situations if it is below 100%. The farther your ratio (%) is below from 100%, the less debt you have. In contrast, the debt to income ratio represents negative financial situations if it is above 100%. The farther your ratio (%) is above 100%, the more debt you have. Then, we can conclude that if our debt to income ratio is equal to 100%, this represents a financial situation that the amount of debt that we have equals our income. The strength of this position is that our debt to income ratio can quickly fall below 100%. The downside of this position is that our debt to income ratio can rise above 100%. Use the current reality of your debt to income ratio to determine your formula for savings.

Changing my mindset. If you are familiar with I See You Growing Life Coaching, then you know that we do monthly surveys. It is important to know how other women feel about topics that are important to women. It is important for I See You Growing Life Coaching to display this data so that we as women can continue to grow from one another. Education is important.

One of the survey questions asked if we knew what it means to be financially secure? 72.7% of the survey participants answered yes, 18.2% answered no; and 9.1% answered maybe. Remember, it is not enough to know something, we have to be willing to have a change in mindset so that we can manage money differently. The participants were also asked if they knew their credit score. 72.7% said yes and they check their credit score often; and 27.3% answered no and they do not check their credit score as often as they should. Knowing our credit score helps us to know our current reality.The participants were asked about the type of debt they currently have. 72.7% of the participants answered that they have credit card debt and student loan debt; 63.6% had medical bill debt; 27.3% had pay-later accounts; 18.2% of the participants answered that they have tax debts or payday loan debt. None of the participants reported that they have fine and legal fees or gambling debt.

Education and support are important. The participants were asked if they knew the difference between gross and net income. 90.9% answered yes and 9.1% answered maybe. The participants were asked if their debt to income was negative, positive, or zero. All participants were employed. 63.6% reported their debt to income ratio to be below 100%; 27.3% answered that their debt to income ratio was above 100%; and 9.1% answered that their debt to income ratio was 100%. The participants were asked to select their retirement accounts. 54.5% answered that they have a 401k; 36.4% answered that they do not have a retirement account; and 9.1% answered that they have a bank IRA.

We are still learning and growing. The participants were asked how much they contributed to their emergency funds. 27.3% answered less than 1% and 1-5%; 36.4% answered that they do not have an emergency fund; and 9.1% answered 5-10%. The participants asked how much they contributed to their savings. 45.5% answered 1-5%; 27.3% answered less than 1% or no savings account.

Growth does not happen without change. The participants were asked what steps they should take to secure their financial future. 72.7% answered they need to pay down debt; 63.6% answered they will start an emergency fund; 45.5% answered they need to start a savings account or find a new means of income; 27.3% answered they need to start a retirement account; 18.2% answered they need to supplement income. 27.3% answered that they need to do them all.

Embrace change. Aren’t we ready to do something different so that we can have something different? Expect growth. It is okay to say that I have outgrown my current reality. It is okay to say that I have outgrown the survival mindset and am ready to pursue a growth mindset. What needs to change about your current reality so that you are able to have more financial freedom in life? What environment do you need to transfer to support your financial growth?

As your life coach, I am ready to reflect and answer these questions. I will examine my responses and be S.M.A.R.T. I will look for help. I will show a willingness to change.

Think ABout it

Recently, I See You Growing Life Coaching had a group of women to complete a survey entitled, “Thinkers Think”. This survey was inspired by a YouTube video, “5 Types of Creative Thinkers”. The types of thinking outlined in the video were lateral, inspirational, divergent, systematic, and aesthetical. The description of each thinking style was also provided in the video.

The participants of the survey were asked to watch the quick, three minute video and then complete the survey. They had only one question to answer, “Which type of thinker are you?”

Understanding how we think about things enables us to become better problem solvers. This awareness releases a type of clarity that may prove beneficial in the long run. One thing that has a possibility for a greater clarity is understanding that each of us are very unique and we have our own ways of approaching problems and other situations. Wouldn’t it be dull if we all thought the same or acted the same? This type of oneness could potentially handicap our abilities for expression.

Think about it….expressions are important for understanding others behaviors, their needs, their thoughts, and their feelings. Before children are able to talk, they point and give other gestures to express their wants and needs. Until then, parents have to use their observation skills to determine the needs of the child.

Think about it….expressions are unique to our own individuality. Our expressions derive from our mannerisms, our experiences, and cultural expectations. They are embedded in our personality types, environmental influences and environmental stressors.

Think about it….the uniqueness of our expressions are often made manifest through our creative styles. This may be seen in our fashion, paintings, music, dance, song, writing, decorations, and relationships. The amazing part of this discovery is that it all stems from our thinking and our imagination.

I can imagine that someone may watch the video and find that they can identify with more than one type of creative thinking style. Choose the type of thinking style that comes first to your mind. What if you found yourself to be one type of thinker but wanted to transform into a different type of thinker? Is this possible? I See You Growing Life Coaching cannot expertly answer this question but exposure may be a step in the right direction. On YouTube, there are thinking games that you can play that will help you to think in different ways, simpler ways, unique ways, creative ways; and that challenge you to not to overthink things.

I See You Growing Life Coaching will make the claim that in order to embrace change and to experience growth, mindsets must change. This sometimes means to change our way of thinking or reframing thinking. Reframing provides an opportunity to change our behaviors. A change of behavior happens when we remove harmful, fruitless thoughts in which we have become accustomed and that hinder our creative thinking. And, we replace them with thoughts that are fresh, beneficial, bring growth, and aid our unique expressions.

Without embracing changes in how we think, our unique expressions (our creative thinking abilities) suffer. We sometimes allow damaging beliefs to keep us stuck in the same position, we become too afraid of change, and we refuse to take risks. Every expression that we make will show how we think.

If you are interested in learning more about your creative thinking style, please visit 5 Types of Creative Thinking.

TRYING NEW THINGS

The thought of trying new things can be courageous or frightening. But….what would our lives be like if we did not try new things? For instance, if we did not try driving, we would have to walk everywhere or find other modes of transportation. We would be immobile or have limited mobility if we did not learn to walk as babies. We would get around by¬† crawling or carefully holding on to sturdy objects to cruise along.

Holding on to sturdy objects to cruise along happens because it is safe. The baby is learning to experience upright movement without feeling the loss of control. They simply do not want to fall. They continue to hold on until they are able to walk from one end of the object to the other, walk around the corner of the object, or until they find the courage to take steps without holding on.

Learning to experience upright movement without feeling the loss of control is an idea of what it means to be in the comfort zone. The comfort zone is the place or situation where we feel safe and in control. What is your comfort zone? What is your safe place? Is it staying on a job that no longer fulfills your life’s purpose just to make a living? Is it staying in an incompatible relationship? Is it staying stuck in the same routine? Or…is it something else?

As you ponder about your safe place, consider this. It is important for us to draw on experiences gained from past experiences. These experiences make us feel secure, intelligent, capable, and sustained. But, isn’t it worth the risk to let go or leave behind the familiar and take the risk that will get you closer to the life that you want to live?

In contrast, new experiences can make us feel afraid and anxious. We lack confidence because we have no experience to draw from. Naturally, we sometimes reject the unfamiliar. Unfamiliar places and situations make us feel that we are in someone else’s power and control -especially when they know what we do not or their capabilities supersede ours. Yes. We have made it to the fear zone. We avoid handling tough situations and make excuses as to why tasks are incomplete.

Who knew that the idea of a comfort zone was multifaceted? Each stage can be seen as an ongoing cyclic process as we continue to grow, learn about ourselves, and try new experiences.

Looking at this image, it seems that in order to move past our levels of comfort, we have to be willing to take risks and be willing to address those things that put or keep us in the fear zone. Of course, taking risks can be frightening because we do not know what to expect, additional responsibilities may be required of us; and we may be forced to change our habits. We cannot stay in the fear zone. How do we keep moving? We must be willing to continue to learn and to grow. We will have to embrace the unfamiliar.

I remember solving a math problem in which I was not quite familiar. Initially, it appeared to be tough. I felt that I had no experience to draw from in order to solve this math problem. I began to wonder if I had learned this concept in school and forgot to grasp it. Before I made it to the thought that questioned my intelligence, I had to determine what I was willing to do. First, I was willing to be persistent enough to solve the problem. Second, I was willing to acknowledge that I was unsure if I had the skills to solve the problem because no matter how I tried, I was not drawing from any experiences. Third, I knew that I had to educate myself about the concept in order to solve the problem. Lastly, I was willing to continue to practice solving such problems so that this would be a new skill for me to draw from in the future of problem solving. Does any of this sound familiar to you? Can you relate that when problems become too challenging for you to deal with, it is important to take the time to acquire new skills and extend your comfort zone? If you agree, your mindset has moved beyond the fear zone and has entered into the learning zone.

As we continue to learn, we continue to grow. In order for learning to be meaningful, we must understand how we learn. How do you learn? Do you learn by seeing? Hearing? Or, doing? However you learn, it is important to utilize your learning style in a way to assist your growth. In the growth zone, we grow by finiding our purpose. We grow as we pursue and live dreams.. We set new goals to avoid being stuck on this level Finally, we conquer objectives.

Being stuck on one level is the opposite of the growth zone. The danger of making it to this growth zone level is not knowing that once you get here, the process must start over in order to prevent being stuck in a new comfort zone. If we go back to the example of the baby who is holding on to sturdy objects to cruise along because it is safe and learn that she finally let go and tried something new-walking, we will understand that the objective has been conquered. But, if the next objective is for her to climb, she has to start her process over because she has no prior experience to draw from. So the fear starts again because she doesn’t want to fall, the learning starts again, she starts climbing on objects when her parents are around, Her confidence begins to grow. As her confidence grows, so does she. New experiences are constantly offered, and the baby constantly tries until the next objective has been conquered.

If we stop trying, we stop growing. In the latest survey, “The Comfort Zone”, participants responded that 78% of us want to feel safe and in control. 22% were unsure of their comfort level. Let the cycle begin.

Indicators of the fear zone include lack of self confidence (12%); affected by opinions of others (51%); and finding excuses that prevent them from taking risks and moving forward (37%). I think that the participants of this survey made very important steps. Learning more about what frightens us and keeps us from moving forward is empowering. I think it also puts us in a better position to problem-solve, pursue resources, change our social environment to include forward-thinking people, and seek a life coach. The cycle continues.

Indicators of the learning zone include knowing how to deal with challenges; acquiring new skills (11); extending comfort zones by challenging confidence (11%) ; trying new things; or all of them (77%). At I See You Growing, we encourage people to embrace change. Each time we try new things, we learn more about ourselves. We learn how we approach challenging situations; we learn our level of frustration, our level of persistence, our willingness to be accountable, and our balance. Learning pushes us forward.

Indicators for the growth zone include a willingness to pursue and find purpose (22%); to live dreams; set new goals to accomplish; conquer objectives; or all of them (77%). As we can see from our data, most people want to learn and grow as much as they want to be safe in and in control. The fear and anxiety of trying new things can stop our growth. We are determined enough to not let them. We will continue to pursue our dreams. We are willing to move forward to comfort, regroup; and then move beyond our comforts.

We expect growth.

BALANCE/OFF BALANCE

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

BALANCE. What does it mean? According to Google, it can be thought of as an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady. Balance is a part of our sensory system. It is also known as the sixth sense. Our balance system is responsible for our movements and our posture. Without a properly functioning balance system, we will be incapable of determining which direction to take and how to get where we are going. We will be incapable of good posture and stability in various conditions and activities.

We are using our senses when we learn to balance. However, balance cannot be achieved without the accompaniment of the other senses that make up our sensory system. Simply put, all our senses work together for balance to be achieved. It makes sense that in order to find balance in life, we would have to allocate an even distribution of time between the things that we have to do and the things that we want to do. This equitable distribution will enable us to remain upright and steady.

The same can be said for other situations as well such as resources used for expenditures. Resources that are spent unevenly can cause us to become imbalanced in life. We are here to recognize when we may be off balance and to find our balance. It simply makes sense to do so.

FINDING BALANCE

There are different ways that I pursue balance. If you want to learn more about how I find balance, please visit, I Got a Tool For That, and complete an inquiry form to receive this information. I also think that it is very important to learn how others recognize or pursue balance. Therefore the survey, “Off Balance” was completed by several women. These women were able to answer specific and open-ended questions about their balance from their own perspectives.

“In which areas of your life do you feel mostly balanced?” was one of the open-ended questions asked. Of course the responses varied. 12.5% of the participants responded that felt more balanced when they were taking out time for themselves and household chores, managing their time, or when they were engaged at work. 25% of the participants responded that they felt more balanced when they were engaged in spiritual activities (i.e. attending church). Another 25% of the participants responded that they felt completely imbalanced.

What does it mean to be without balance? What causes it? If we go back to review the human balance system, it is learned that balance becomes impaired when we experience diseases, injuries, trauma, and other physical and psychological problems. We can continue to infer that our other senses may not be properly accompanying our sense of balance. A different way to look at it is, when we are off balance, it doesn’t make sense.

“In which areas of your life do you feel mostly off balanced?” was the next open-ended question asked for the survey. Of course the answers were varied but there were greater frequencies of similarities in these responses. 12.5% of the participants responded that they felt more imbalanced when it came to being consistent, planning for their future, or, household responsibilities. 25% of the participants responded that they felt more imbalanced when it came to personal things in life. 37.5% of the participants responded that they felt more imbalanced when it came to time. One of the participants responded that they felt imbalanced in every area of their lives.

HOW WOULD YOU RESPOND?

How would you respond to this question, “How much attention are you devoting to health and self care?” Over 60 % of the participants in the Off Balance survey said they do this daily. In the article, “How to Claim Some Me Time”, the author suggested that we should spend anything from 5 minutes to an hour each day caring for ourselves.

How would you respond to this question, “How much attention are you devoting to managing your time?” Over 60% of the participants in the Off Balance (OB) survey said they do this daily. The McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning provided what appears to be helpful tips for effective time management for college students. The principles were adapted from research and theory to encourage college students to get the most out of their time. Although, it does not answer the question of how much nor does it endorse the 80/20 rule of time management but the application may be universal.

How would you respond to this question, “How much attention are you devoting to building and maintaining relationships?” The majority of the participants who completed the OB survey said they do this daily. According to the article, “10 Tips for Being More Social on Your Own Terms”, you have the autonomy to do just that. From the author’s point of view, your level of social interaction is up to you. This infers that your effort depends upon the nature of the relationship and the social interactions.

How would you respond to this question, “How much attention are you devoting to interacting with your children. 100% of the participants who completed the OB survey said they do this daily. Making time to spend quality and meaningful time with your child(ren) is important. You are your child’s first and most important teacher. We want to ensure that they know that they are a valuable part of the family. It is important that parents translate this message properly.

How would you respond to these questions, “How much attention are you devoting to socializing?” Nearly 46% of the participants who completed the OB survey said that they do this weekly. “How much attention are you devoting to studies and schoolwork? 36% was a frequent percentage for participants who completed the OB survey. And, “How much attention are you devoting to setting goals for your future?” Nearly 46% of the participants in the OB survey said they do this weekly.

As you continue to pursue balance in life, it makes sense to shift things to ensure there is an even distribution of resources. Pull from those experiences in life and use such references as you problem-solve your way to a more harmonious and stable environment. Recognize those things that are making you feel imbalanced and use hindsight and insight as guides to change, to pursue, and to equalize your scale of life.

As May is considered to be the month for mental health, use this time to pursue balance. Because being imbalanced, makes no sense.

References:

How to Claim Some ‘Me Time’. Asp, Karen. 2013

https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/features/prioritizing-time-for-yourself-for-health

McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning. Principles of Effective Time Management for Balance, Well-being, and Success.

https://mcgraw.princeton.edu/effective-time-management

10 Tips for Being More Social on Your Own Terms. Lamothe, Cindy, 2019

https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-be-more-social

The Human Balance System. VEDA

https://vestibular.org/article/what-is-vestibular/the-human-balance=system/the-human-balance-system-how-do-we-maintain-our-balance

ACES IN THEIR PLACES

Aces in their places is an idea that refers to leaders knowing the value of their people, the vision of the company, and the endeavors to bring out the best in both when filling positions (connectionculture.com). But, this blog is going to look at the value of people in a different way and change the idea of Aces in their places.  Because April is child abuse prevention month and because this blog is about empowering women, it is important to understand how we as a community of women can change the effects of childhood trauma.

ACES, if you have never heard of this acronym, stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences. ACES are traumatic events that happened in childhood. These events include violence, abuse, homes of substance abuse, and other traumatic experiences (CDC).  ACES can impact a person’s health and cause an increase in other risk factors. There are shocking statics all around about the impact of ACES. For instance, the CDC shared that after surveying adults in about 25 states, there were about 61% who experienced at least one ACES. Of this same group, there were about 1 in 6 people who experienced four or more ACES.

Although a person who has high ACES scores cannot change go back to change their childhood experiences, they can work to prevent ACES by implementing strategies they can use before becoming parents or have already begun their parenting journey and by implementing strategies to address those past traumas. Therefore, it is important to put ACES in their places through awareness, seeking help, changing habits, and reducing the possibility for high ACES scores for future generations and for the community.

To explain, the higher the ACES score, the more a person is at risk for experiencing long-term negative situations. This puts a person with higher scores at risk for diseases, poverty, toxic relationships, and psychological concerns such as suicide, addiction, and depression. The hope of putting ACES in their places relies on building resilience, seeking professional help, and gaining awareness.

If building resilience is the strategy that you are considering, Peoplesense Blog shared 8 ways to build resilience in the face of trauma. These ideas range from accepting what has happened to you, setting goals, and seeking professional help. Please visit this website for the complete list. If seeking professional help is the strategy that you are considering; and you do not where to start, try EAP (Employee Assistance Program) services through your employer, check-in with your insurance network to learn where to go for mental health treatment, join support groups. Different solutions may be to consult with your church Pastor or to advocate for community programs that may change or impact the well-being of your community. Finally, seek a life coaching service such as I See You Growing Life Coaching.

If you have never taken ACES and want to know your ACES score, please complete the tool and follow the instructions for scoring. If your score is greater than 4, the more you are at risk for the impact of adverse experiences.

As a way to put ACES in their places, a group of women, including myself completed the ACES Questionnaire to learn more about our ACES scores.

As you can see, there were a total of eight women who completed the ACES surveys-including myself. Since every single item is just as important as the next, a comparison will be made for each. For question one, there was a greater number of women who answered no to this question than yes. This means there were more of us in this group who did not experience this type of physical and emotional abuse. For question two, there was a greater number of women who answered no than yes. This means there were more of us in this group who did not experience this type of physical abuse. For question three, there was a greater number of women who answered no to this question than yes. This means there were more of us in this group who did not experience this type of sexual abuse. For question four, there was a greater number of women who answered yes than no. This means there were more of us in this group who experienced this type of emotional neglect. For question five, there was a greater number of women who answered no than yes. This means there were more of us in this group who did not experience this type of physical neglect. For question six, there was a greater number of women who answered yes than no. This means there were more of us in this group who had one or more parents absent in their lives. For question seven, there was a greater number of women who answered no than yes. This means all of us in this group did not experience this type of trauma. For question eight, there was a greater number of women who answered no than yes. That means there were more of us in this group who did not experience this type of household mental illness. For question nine, there was a greater number of women who answered no than yes. This means there were more of in this group who did not witness this type of mental illness. Finally, for question 10, there was a greater number of women who answered no than yes. This means there were more of us who did not experience this type of trauma.

For information on how we as a community can work collectively to prevent ACES and to reduce its impact, please look at the following video from the CDC.

Thank you for taking this journey with me in embracing change, expecting growth, and empowering you.

References:

Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences. CDC https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/fastfact.html

8 Ways to Build Resilience in the Face of Trauma. Anya Stephens

https://www.peoplesense.com.au/newsarticle

For the Best Teams, Put Aces in Their Places. Paul LaRue

https://www.connectionculture.com/post/for-the-best-teams-put-aces-in-their-places