Transcript: The Power of Planning from the Imperfect, with Eowyn Levene

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Eowyn Levene 0:00
Welcome to Creative Do Money. Each week we explore the topics of everyday money management, solo business ownership, and how we’re fueling our creative futures. I’m your host Eowyn Levene, money coach, longtime self employed massage therapist, and watermelon enthusiast, and I’m on a mission to help you build the lasting financial stability that frees you up to do your creative work without hustling anxiously for the next dollar.

Eowyn Levene 0:29
Hello there Happy New Year. I know I said I was taking a break. But I have a feeling this is gonna turn into a normal episode. And so be it. I’m glad to be here, I really wanted to record this. I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the things I’m going to touch on today. And wanted to share this, I’m still gonna take a couple weeks off and be back on January 15. Although I might drop you a bonus episode, we’ll see how it goes.

Eowyn Levene 0:55
So today, I’m following up on the previous episode 18, about how to do a simple and easy year and review that allows you some insight into the behaviors and habits that stand behind some of the events that went really great and you’re proud of versus some of the events that maybe you wish had been different, obviously the ones that you have control over. And then asking yourself, what are some of the thoughts that stood behind those behaviors and those actions. So that’s a really great preparation for sitting down and looking forward to the year ahead, if not further into the future.

Eowyn Levene 1:31
But before I get into the three questions, I suggest you ask yourself as part of your planning process, I wanted to just start with what I see most commonly around New Year’s resolutions, and the idea of New Year new you and planning all the things for the year ahead. What I observed is that the usual way of approaching New Year planning and this whole concept of New Year new you if that’s something you do, and I know it’s something I have done year over year, and it’s taken me some time and some intention to let go of what I think of as the shadow side of all of that. But it’s really rooted in wanting to change all the things about oneself that we think are broken that we think are less than or unacceptable. And largely the New Year New You theme comes from a place of If only I would difference, I would be happier or happy. If I were different, I would have more friends. If I lost X amount of pounds, I’d get a better job or a life partner. It’s really grounded in some deep dissatisfaction and shame about who we are right now. And this somewhat desperate sense that if we only we can change ourselves, then some Shangri La awaits us.

Eowyn Levene 2:55
I want you to ask yourself, what would it look like to create plans and goals, if you start from more of a sense of wholeness, if you challenge yourself to think about yourself as perfectly imperfect, as you are right now, and consider that you are a supremely valuable human being worthy of love, acceptance, inclusion, just like every other human being, how would that change your process?

Eowyn Levene 3:19
So this is the place that I have come to learn to inhabit when I do future planning for myself. And I’ve really worked hard to let go of that grasping, shameful place that previously, I would make these perfectionist plans from, I would be running all the miles and doing all the strength training and following all the perfect paleo diets and whatever it be. A lot of it was around health and body for me because when you live with a chronic illness, you’re often trying a lot of different things to quote unquote, fix your health. So that was an area of New Year’s resolutions that I was particularly susceptible, that have, you know, health and the body and nutrition and that kind of thing. And I slowly learned to let go of that and to shift how I invite new things into my life. And it’s really from that place of enoughness. And that place of wholeness that I started to make genuine progress in creating new things and changing my behavior because I wanted new outcomes and I wanted to make things and experience things and I was coming from a place of curiosity and investigation and interest, as opposed to beating myself up or despairing. Obviously, not all human beings are built the same. Not everyone is perfectionist, but I think a lot of us are encouraged to a rather perfectionist way of looking at ourselves and planning our future selves. It’s definitely something that those of us socialized as women are most susceptible to, but I think it applies to everyone. Our whole culture of media and advertising really feeds into these perfectionist images of productivity and physical attractiveness and success and all the different things that can really lead us to create these resolutions. And these plans for ourselves that aren’t based on who we really are, and aren’t based on what we really want to create and see in the world. They’re really based in this profound sense of lack. So I’m inviting you to ease, I’m inviting you to let go of that urgency and the hardness and kind of the yuck of, of all of that I should be different. And look at how would it be to create a vision for the coming year, from place of really saying, I’m enough and accepting yourself. And you don’t need to love yourself, accept yourself and say, You’re enough in a perfect way. It’s a muscle that you build over time. And you learn to identify those self critical thoughts and the voice in your head that talks to you in a way you’d never talk to anyone else.

Eowyn Levene 5:57
One thing I will also address before moving forward is often if we think about forming plans, from a place of acceptance, and embracing ourselves as we are right now, sometimes we can fear that we won’t have the motivation necessary to reach our goals. That is only through driving ourselves and saying that we have to improve because XYZ that will really allow us to get where we want to go. It’s just not true. You can be more effective when you’re not constantly shaming yourself and telling yourself you’re not good enough. And bonus, you’re so much more likely to enjoy your life along the way. Here’s to that.

Eowyn Levene 6:34
So this is the question. If you’re coming from this place of wholeness and enoughness being perfectly imperfect, what would you want to make? What would you want to change in your life? What do you want to heal? What do you want to grow into? What do you want to explore?

Eowyn Levene 6:48
So this is why you take a few moments to settle in, remind yourself that you’re a Okay. And then ask yourself what you want to create for this year and coming years in the future. And then from that subtle place, where you have this vision and these plans in mind, then you drop down into the money talk and the planning, you knew I was headed there to the money bit. Right.

Eowyn Levene 7:11
So the question that follows from this subtle place of enoughness is what are the financial implications of this vision of the dreams and the goals that you want for yourself and for the world? And not only what are the financial implications, but what is the timeline?vvBecause it may be the case that you’re getting better with self acceptance, and you are learning to plan from a place of enoughness. But nonetheless, the question remains, how are you going to build a financial foundation to support yourself as you go after all the things that you want. So if you haven’t had a chance to do the year end review that I mentioned from Episode 18, it’s a great moment to take a pause and go and do that process of looking back at your 2020 money year. And if you’ve done that review, and you’re ready to map out some of your money work for this coming year, you want to ask yourself a few questions. These questions are pretty straightforward and simple. But they’re great primers for financial success, especially when things are really uncertain. And we have challenging times ahead of us still, yes, 2020 is over, but the pandemic is not over. And the massive societal and economic implications of the pandemic are really not over. So we’re still facing a lot. And it could be the case that 2020 has been really tough on your financial life. So these questions are a good way of just grounding yourself in some of the necessary things as you plan your money and build your financial goals for the future.

Eowyn Levene 8:43
One last side note, oh my goodness, so many side notes. Okay, one last side note before I move ahead, which is that I have. I have mentioned multiple times in the past couple months, that I want to do an episode about financial priorities about deciding how to know when to put money towards debt versus savings versus investing. I still want to do that. But actually, I think for now, I’m going to turn it into a blog post so that that is ready for you soon. So look in the show notes for that blog post or heads my website and look under the blog there. And you’re going to see some guidelines around how to prioritize what you do with the money available to you.

Eowyn Levene 9:21
Okay, now we’re ready for those questions. So if you’re sitting down wanting to map out your money plans for the coming year, here are those questions those three of them first, what are the things that you identified from your year and review that you know, you can control day to day that influence your money for the better. This might be letting go of certain behaviors, no longer spending on certain things or being much more intentional about how you use credit cards. Or it might be things that you want to add in different habits that you want to add in such as sitting down and checking your balances or tracking your expenses or learning to use a budget. So you want to take a moment and ask yourself, what are those behaviors and those habits that I want to pay attention to some that I want to let go of, and some that I want more of. And getting really clear on these allows you to take your power back in times that are uncertain. And in times that may have really impacted your business and your income. So many things that improve our financial life, we can do on the day to day regardless of income level. And regardless of external life events. And this isn’t me discounting the impact of the general financial system, the impact of political outcomes that influence our financial life, I’m not discarding any of that. Nonetheless, there are so many things we can do for ourselves. So you want before planning to just sit down and get really clear, what are the ones that I want to look at this year? What are the ones that I want to work on? What do I want to let go of and what do I want to add more of, it can be tempting to really focus on outcome based goals and specific timelines. So an outcome goal might be, I’m going to save $20,000 this year, versus that behavior and habit type goals. So that process goal that you can decide what you do about from the day to day, that would be more like whether or not you use a budget, so that you have ultimate control over saving $20,000 is dependent on a lot of things, many of which you may not have control over. So it’s how often you check in with your online accounts versus a specific income goal for each month. I’m not discounting those kind of big outcome oriented goals, they have their role. However, I think in uncertain times, and if you’re newer to being more intentional with your finances, focusing on process goals, habits and behaviors, things that you can control? So much more potential for progress there. Alright, so the first question that was, what are the things that I can control in the day to day? And how can I focus more on those? Okay, that’s two questions. But they’re related.

Eowyn Levene 12:07
Next question is, what might get in the way of you’re doing the necessary money work, engaging in those habits and behaviors that you’ve identified, you might realize that there has been a lot of avoidance around doing your money work, or that you feel confused about where to start with things, you might feel overwhelmed, just simply because for the past 10 years, you’ve been doing the bare minimum to manage your money, and you’re not sure how to do things differently. It might just simply be that massive loss in income that I’ve already touched on. Whatever it is, start with a clear understanding of what your challenges are, and acknowledge the areas that you struggle. And if necessary, remind yourself that we all have areas where we struggle, including with money.

Eowyn Levene 12:56
Then the third question is, what support Do you need to call them for yourself to get your money work done to support you in the areas that you have some struggle? What would support you to get better with money? What do you need more of what do you need less of?

Eowyn Levene 13:12
One quick pro tip here is that your answer to this question of what support you need might be I need more information, I need to do more research, I need to learn more about I yield savings accounts, or whatever it is. And I just want to say that usually, more information is not the answer to making progress in an area where we want to create change. Usually, we already know enough to do the things that will have the most impact. I mean, think about it in terms of health, like you can get really crazy with different kinds of supplements and tinctures, and a highly weighed and specific diet and all these things. But actually, you can improve your health massively by just walking 30 minutes a day, eating more vegetables, cutting out fried food and being better about not eating too much sugar, for example. So nutrition is a bit of a murky area to talk about this, but it’s easy we all eat. It’s something we’re all familiar with. So I’m using it as an example of just saying that the basics if we actually do them make a world of difference, as opposed to feeling like we have to have all the information and the perfectly sculpted answer to improve an area of life that we want to improve. So don’t be tempted by the more information or more research thing. It’s about taking action on what we know serves us best and helps us create what we want in the world. So those are your three questions.

Eowyn Levene 14:43
And if you sit yourself down, having done your year and review, ground yourself in a sense of enoughness and wholeness and being perfectly imperfect, build your vision for what you want to create and then ask yourself these questions about what are the financial changes and the financial actions that are going to lead you to that financial foundation that you’re seeking, you’re going to find a lot more clarity on what you want to focus on and where you’ll need to turn for help.

Eowyn Levene 15:09
On that topic, there are a lot of different forms that that help could take. It could be a friend or family member who you invite to be an accountability partner, it could be that you’re going to post on social media about goals, and then tell people how it’s going. So help can look like a lot of different things. And it depends partly how you’re made.

Eowyn Levene 15:33
If you feel like though, that one on one support would be helpful. And without it, you’re going to struggle to make some changes that you’ve attempted in the past. For the next two weeks, I’m actually offering a special discount on my 90 minute money power up sessions. I’ve discounted it way down, because I’m really aware of how tough the previous year has been. So when you ask yourself, what support Do I need, and the idea of one on one coaching fits your answer, and get in touch by the link in the show notes. But 90 minute money power up sessions are 65% off between now and January 14. So don’t wait too long to reach out and take advantage of this. If it feels like the right thing for you.

Eowyn Levene 16:14
All of that aside, let’s assume that you’ve asked yourself these three questions. And you’ve found some clarity about what you want to work on, at least for this year. And you’ve identified some of the habits and behaviors that you want to add in and some that you want to let go.

Eowyn Levene 16:30
The next question is daily action is just following up on your intentions. Because it’s that following up on intentions, through resistance through avoidance through just not wanting the heck do it. So that’s where the magic lies. This is really a whole topic in itself. But I want to leave you with just a few quick tips for actually following through on what you intend for your life.

Eowyn Levene 16:55
Number one, choose just one money priority at a time and have some sense of how long you’ll keep that focus. So perhaps you know that just checking in with your numbers is really important to changing how you do things, you want to check your bank balance every weekday. If that’s come up, as an important step for you make it your one thing that you’re going to work on in your personal finances, everything else will take care of itself, the stuff that you’ve already done previously, and then say, okay, for the next one month, two months, three months, I’m going to create a system for myself, I’m going to have a checklist five days a week, whatever it is that you need to do, but focus on just that one thing. And if you’re perfectionist like me, it’s not going to feel like enough, you’re going to want to do that you’re also going to want to pay off all your credit cards, you’re going to want to max out your Roth IRA, you’re going to want to double your business income, all of the things. So resist that urge. And just put all of your attention and your effort on that one thing, it’s going to reduce decision fatigue, and it’s going to help you make a lot more progress in the long run.

Eowyn Levene 18:03
Next step, keep going even if you stumble and fail, even if you don’t do it for a couple days in a row, back to the checking the bank balance thing, even when it’s hard and uncomfortable. Just keep going. If you skip a couple days, sit down and start again. It’s as simple as that you have one focus, and you keep going even when you stumble as you go. Next is related to those thoughts that you identified. If you did the year review mapped out in Episode 18. What are the thoughts that lead to the behaviors that you are so happy that you engaged in the previous year, maybe they were thoughts that kept your savings Top of Mind and allowed you to prioritize putting money in savings instead of spending it on something that doesn’t serve you in the short term. The tip is generally to identify those thoughts and then to practice them. I’ve touched on this in previous episodes. Essentially, this is what I call Thought Work and Managing your Mind. These are the thoughts that lead you to the habits and behaviors that get you where you want to go. I’ll put a couple of links in the show notes to an episode and a blog post that talk more about this.

Eowyn Levene 19:07
Last tip of the day, start really small. So checking the bank balance five days a week, that is a good example of starting really small. But let’s say that the one money priority that you chose for yourself is paying off your credit card balances in full every month and a few months in you find out that you’re really not managing to do that. You want to back up you want to break it down further, you want to start smaller. So in this case, it might be simply writing down your expenses multiple times a week, track your expenses for a few months and then see where you get to with keeping that credit card balances zero. So wherever there is resistance or you’re struggling to meet your intention, break it further down, get down to the smallest level and build your habits up from that.

Eowyn Levene 19:54
Alright, we’ll leave it at that. This is more than enough to chew on. I wish you happy dreaming and vision making a place of love and acceptance of yourself. I can’t wait to see what you make in the world. And go get it. And as always, thank you so much for listening to the end, I appreciate you. And don’t forget, if you want some one on one help come and find me via the link in the show notes on my website. It’s just $65 for a 90 minute one on one session with me where we’re going to get a lot of clarity and a real action plan for you to get you moving in the money direction that serves you and your intentions in life the most effectively. www.plumtreemoney.com

Eowyn Levene 20:39
Special thanks to Michael P. Atkinson for help with producing this episode and for composing its beautiful music. If you enjoyed listening today, I hope you’ll return until your creative friends and colleagues about it and also to take a moment to leave a review wherever it is that you listen. positive reviews make a huge difference in getting the word out about creatives do money. And in the meantime, wishing you all money, business and life success whatever that means to you.