The Mindset of the Financially Free

The Mindset of the Financially Free

Mindset of the Financially FreeIf you’d rather listen than read, click below:

The Mindset of the Financially Free

Here goes that overused question again:  Is the glass half full?  Or half empty?

In this case, the answer reflects much of the difference between the mindset of those who are financially free and the financially “unfree,” or constricted.  By financially free, we mean those people who know they can easily generate (or have already generated) enough income to cover their expenses to support their lifestyle without actively working.

Where the financially free see opportunities and potential growth, the unfree see obstacles and possible loss.  Where the free see rewards, the unfree see risks.

Where the free say, “This will work,” the unfree say, “This won’t work.”  (And those in the middle say, “I hope this works.”)

So where do you think you stand?

To see the difference between the one mindset and the other, we need to look at three separate characteristics:  basic attitude, level of risk taking and propensity to act.  So let’s look at those three in more detail.

Basic Attitude

People who are financially free are those who take responsibility for their actions … and their results.  They take credit when things go right, but blame no one else when things go wrong.  Nor do they dwell on a failure, except for the time needed to figure out the lesson to be learned.

They fully expect to succeed, yet are ready to pick themselves up and brush off their shins when they don’t.  From there, after a quick but sound assessment, they either do a course correction and continue on or determine that their efforts and resources are better applied elsewhere.

The belief systems of those who with a financially free mindset aren’t all identical.  Whether their courage comes from belief in themselves, in universal energies or in a higher power is of little consequence.  What counts is that they have an inherent belief that what they undertake is destined to succeed.

The financially unfree, on the other hand, generally expect to fail.  More reactive than proactive, they tend to believe that they are at the mercy of outside forces … a belief that gives them someone else to blame when their expectation to fail becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

By focusing more on all the potential obstacles than anything else, they react to any hiccup as a disaster, being certain that it’s an indication that they were right in the first place:  they should never have gone forward with whatever they’ve undertaken.

Level of Risk Taking

As for risk, the risk profile of the financially free is high, partly thanks to their level of confidence.  Having succeeded in the past, they know they can succeed again.  Even if they succeeded at something small, with lesser risk, growing the risk feels natural because they see it as a continuum that leads to greater and greater success.  (Yes, success breeds success.)

By taking risks, their intention is certainly not to fail.  The risks they do take are “educated” risks, well researched and based on facts.  They define what they need to know in order to be comfortable making a go/no-go decision … and then they make it.

The financially unfree are less likely to take risks, preferring instead to drag the decision-making process out as they dig for more and more information.  Out of fear of failure, they reach a form of paralysis, or “analysis paralysis.”  And by the time they finally feel they have researched things to death and do take action, any opportunity that did exist is likely long gone.

Propensity to Act

The financially free are real clear on one thing:  in order to succeed, you have to take some form of action.  You invest in something, you build something, you launch something … you do something!  (The expression “nothing ventured, nothing gained” was probably first uttered by an unfettered entrepreneur!)

As self-made multimillionaire and bestselling author Michael Masterson insists in his book “Ready, Fire, Aim,” you do need some form of plan and preparation to avoid certain failure.  However, after that, rather than perfect the plan ad nauseum, he advocates taking action, perfecting the plan as you move forward.

By getting into action, you’re getting hands-on, in-the-trenches knowledge and are no longer working in the theoretical.  As you progress, things unfold.  And by being an action taker (and a natural course corrector), your chances of fulfilling your expectations of success are multiplied immeasurably.

(By the way, according to Brian Tracy, an airplane trying to fly from Point A to Point B is off course 99% of the time, and is constantly course correcting.  So why can’t you?)

As for people who are still financially unfree, by hesitating to take action until every possible outcome has been analyzed and every risk has been minimized, they’ll find they never get out of the starting gate.  By not acting, they may not lose … but they’ll certainly never win.

Turning Unfree into Free

So if any of the descriptions of the “financially unfree” mindset sound familiar, how can you change your outcomes?  Here’s one way:

  1. Identify a small project or business activity that’s just slightly outside your comfort zone and that has a risk level that’s greater than you’d usually take, but not paralyzing.
  2. If you’ve been thinking about doing it for some time, forget about whatever you felt you needed before beginning.
  3. Define your ideal final outcome.
  4. Make a list of all the steps you would need to take to get there.  Print out the list.
  5. If you look at the later steps in the process, they’re likely the ones that are the most difficult and most fear-inducing.  So start reading the steps from the beginning and determine where you start feeling a little queasy.
  6. Fold the paper right above the step that makes you uncomfortable.
  7. Post the steps where you can see them (with the paper still folded).
  8. Stay focused on how good it will feel to reach your ultimate goal and complete the steps you can see.
  9. Once those are completed, look at the rest of the list.  You’ll be surprised at how nonthreatening they now look, since your mindset has shifted with your success up to now.
  10. Complete the project.

Now you’re ready to take on larger and larger projects, and those with greater and greater risk.  As you know, with risk comes reward.  Congratulations, you’re on your path towards becoming financially free!

Be sure to let me know in the comment section below where on the “unfree to free” continuum your mindset is, and what you’re willing to do to change it.


Bio: Sharon O’Day lost everything at age 53: her home, her business, everything. But how could that be? She’s an expert in global finance and marketing with an MBA from the Wharton School. She has worked with governments, corporations, and individuals … yes, she was the secret “weapon,” if you will, behind many individuals in high places. Yet she did! Since then, with her finances completely turned around, Sharon has gone on to interview countless women. She’s done extensive research to understand how that could have happened, especially with her strong knowledge of numbers and finance.

The surprising answers are shared in her posts, articles and an upcoming book. Today her mission is to show as many women as possible how to become financially free for the long term, through her coaching programs. She has developed a step-by-step plan to get past all the obstacles that keep women broke and scared … and from reaching the financial peace of mind they so deserve … if they’re willing to do what it takes!

  • Well this was certainly worth the wait Sharon! Incredible article that really gets you to thinking…I had no idea about the planes! That one fact in itself speaks volumes to a defeated mindset…it is never too late to rechart your course and move forward!

    • Denny, I prove again and again with my clients that it really is never too late to rechart your course and move forward! Besides, I did it too!

  • Thank you Sharon for listing out the 10 steps to transforming from “unfree to free”. Now I see where I’ve been stuck and why.

    Point #5 -If you look at the later steps in the process, they’re likely the
    ones that are the most difficult and most fear-inducing. So start
    reading the steps from the beginning and determine where you start
    feeling a little queasy.

    Point # 6 – Fold the paper right above the step that makes you uncomfortable.

    It is here, at the folding the paper, point that I’ll pick myself up and move forward. What a fabulous way to erase the fear factor from any chance of moving forward…in anything we do in life. Now, that is true freedom worthy of an award…thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    • Isn’t that a great mindset shift, Carla? It seems silly, but if you can stop looking every day at what scares you, but focus instead on an intermediate goal, the tough stuff looks real easy by the time you’ve accomplished all the steps before it!

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  • pat

    Your article has so many good points and so much encouragment for anyone at any state financially. I love the take action, and just keep correcting your course until you get to your goal. Thanks Sharon.

    • Probably the greatest advice, Pat, is to keep putting one foot in front of the other, day by day, headed in the general direction you want to go. At some point, you’ll turn around and be shocked at the progress you’ve made!

  • Donovan

    Thanks for the article Sharon. Being an analyst by birth, risk taking was a challenge that I have struggled with in the past. Luckily I married the wonderful Jenny and she was the complete opposite from me, so we met each other half way. In all seriousness, becoming more of a risk taker was a great barrier to get past and has been a catalyst for much of my successes post marriage. Thanks a lot for the reminder.

    • Don’t you love it when a good plan comes together, Donovan? Imagine marrying the exact counterpart you needed to allow you to take the risks required to be a great provider for your family. Sounds pretty good to me!

  • Sound advice here Sharon and what I take from it is ‘responsibility, focus and action’. What I love about your posts is that it doesn’t matter where you are at financially, you can incorporate the suggestions to suit. Very helpful!

    • … that’s because the fundamentals of money are the same for everyone, Carolyn. We just apply them where we are at that moment, and they guide us all the way to having as many zeroes as we want after the one (100,000 or 1,000,000 or more). Same-same. 😉

  • Alexandra McAllister

    Such valuable advice and tips, Sharon! You 10 tips to turning unfree to free are great! Thank you so much!

    • Lots of us get hung up at Step One because Step Nine intimidates us, Alexandra. I just find that to be a simple way to remove the resistance … oh, the human brain is so easily manipulated, even when we’re doing it to ourselves! 😉

  • Awesome post! Thanks Sharon for all these cool ideas and tips!

  • Great action steps Sharon! Thanks for laying those out, it really makes a task seem doable.

    • The smaller the bite sizes, the easier it is to digest them, Vickie. That system (although we’re seemingly “tricking” ourselves) is really effective!

  • Am in the middle somewhere. I like to write essays and editorials but who would ever pay me to read them? Have three novelettes written and need to get them publsihed on Amazon for the lunchtime Kindle/Nook reading crowd. So what’s stopping me? OK, I’ll make the list you suggest and get busy typing out all of the essays and editorials roaming around in my head. I guess they can’t do me any good til they are on paper or the computer.

    • I can’t talk, Sherri, because I have an unpublished book! But maybe if you get your novelettes out, I’ll get my book out. Deal? (Have a happy Fourth of July!)

  • Great article Sharon. It is helpful for anyone in any financial situation. Fear surfaces when risk taking is involved, but your step by step plan is a great resource.

    • Thanks, Cathy. For many, fear surfaces when change is involved. Add risk to the mix and it can be paralyzing! So that little plan can be a great help …

  • Love this article, Sharon! I like how you broke it down into 10 easy steps. It is so important to have the right mindset in whatever we are doing, especially in regards to finances. A lot of people have very limiting beliefs when ti comes to money and tend to sabotage their efforts. Thanks for sharing your vast knowledge 🙂

    • Thanks, Susan. You know how important mindset is in your work … and it’s the foundation of what I do in mine as well. If that part isn’t addressed, everything else is an uphill battle! And who needs unnecessary battles, right? 😉

  • Great advice Sharon!! Thanks 🙂

  • Claudia

    Sharon, I like how you broke it down into bite sized steps. It’s like taking each step of the steep staircase in a building until we reach the top to see the beauty of a city.

    • Lovely analogy, Claudia. And the view from up here is grand! 😉

  • I’m the optimist, the one who looks at the glass half full! Yup… don’t have the time or energy it takes to be otherwise… 🙂 Great advice here!

    • My guess is that you’re more than an optimist, Norma. Something tells me you follow that belief in positive outcomes … with lots of action. Brava!

  • Amy Marin Carlson

    Sharon, I appreciate what you wrote about the steps to making risk-taking doable. Sometimes just contemplating one step at a time is just the trick. Thanks.

    • You’re right, Amy. The trick is to not let the later (seemingly more challenging) tasks into your calculations … until you have the momentum (and success) of the earlier ones behind you.

  • What a nice thing to think about!

    • Financial peace of mind is always a nice thing to think about, Sally! 😉

  • Jamie

    What a great, positive article. I need to work on becoming more “financially free” =)

    • Jamie, you’re early enough in your life path that any small gesture in the right direction will have a huge impact in the years to come. Do take your intention seriously … 😉

  • Sharon, I love love this article! It is both inspiring and instructional, I love it! I’d say I have the mindset of the financially free, and working my way to become actually free.

    • That’s fabulous, Sherry. Whether we are fortunate enough to have been raised with that mindset, or got there through our own efforts and transformation … isn’t it a great place to be? Good luck with the next steps of your journey!

  • Karen Presecan

    Sharon, your story is so inspiring! Wonderful and informative post!

    • Thanks, Karen. Looking back, I realize to what extent “my story” was the result of choices I made. I figured out early on that a decision is like a Y in the road, each one taking you down a very different path …

  • Once again I’m so inspired, Sharon, by the small steps you invite us to take. You present the big picture, but then make it attainable one small step at a time. Since today is July 4th, Independence Day for Americans, what better time to use your 10-step outline to create another step into FREEDOM! Thanks so much, Sharon <3

    • Hmmm … maybe I need to change my tagline: “Fix your finances. Big picture. Little steps.” 😉 Here’s to your TOTAL freedom, Susan … not just financial!

  • Loved this article, Sharon! One of my favorite lines was “…in order to succeed, you have to take some form of action. ” Take action and course correct, I always say. If not you are left with all sorts of resistance, like procrastination and perfection. Your 10 steps listed is a winner. Thanks!

    • I agree, Lisa, it’s so much easier once you have momentum. Getting it is the tough part!

  • these are awesome tips 1 I haven’t done that and I am going too!

    • Glad it can be helpful to you, Liz. It’s so easy to get so busy that we do some things on automatic pilot. But leaving our financial mindset on autopilot can be a recipe for disaster! 😉

  • Taking action is key to any success we have in life 🙂 I love the way you break down big tasks into bite size chunks we can work on today!

    • Thanks, Anita, I figure if I break things down in different ways, something will help even the most reticent to take action which, as you say, is the key to any success.

  • Lisa Carter

    As usual, excellent article with great tips Sharon! I love the airplane analogy with the constant course corrections for your finances. Thanks!

    • Lisa, if everything were “knowable,” we’d have a perfect market and no one would ever lose with finances. As we know, that’s sure not the case. (Just look at the housing market!) But rather than be paralyzed by that fact, we move forward thoughtfully, keep an eye on things … and course correct, course correct, course correct!

  • Thea

    Another great article Sharon!! I have a couple big projects I’ve been allowing myself to hesitate completing, but since last week I’ve been crossing off the “To-do” list. Today I plan to tackle another huge frog, and this is the final confirmation to just ‘git ‘er done!’ I like the technique you suggested to make a big task seem less daunting. Thanks Sharon 🙂

  • myspalmer

    Hi Sharon!!!

    I love the attitudinal differences you pointed out. I can’t stand a whiner. Get up, brush off, learn, correct and act all over again!

    • Love that you have that attitude, too, Mys! The key is just learning from whatever it is … and getting on, as you say!