Your Finances: It’s Your Life, Not Mine

Your financesIf you prefer to listen rather than read, click:

Audio Your Finances Your Life Not Mine

“I’ve read several of your articles, including your story, and I realize I’m not you.  So can I do what you’ve succeeded in doing with your finances if we’re so different?”

So started a conversation with a new client recently.  And to answer, I borrowed generously from Paulo Coelho, in his new book Manuscript Found in Accra:

If they [your coach in this case] once took a wrong and dangerous path, they will never come to you and say, “Don’t ever do that.”

They will merely say: “I once took a wrong and dangerous path.”

This is because they respect your freedom, just as you respect theirs.

Avoid those who believe they are stronger than you, because they are actually concealing their own fragility.

Stay close to those who are not afraid to be vulnerable, because they have confidence in themselves and know that, at some point in our lives, we all stumble; they do not interpret this as a sign of weakness, but of humanity.”

What I Write About

I write about how I messed up (and still do!), what I did about it and what worked for me.  It’s called “making my mess my message.”  Parts of that will work for you.  Parts will not.

But I also write about the experiences of all those I interact with—especially those who work with me to turn their finances around, because they teach me new wrinkles.  Once they have success with a particular technique or strategy, I integrate it into my writings so you have that option as well for your finances.

I’ve had readers comment that I come at the same issue from so many different directions and that they appreciate me giving them choices … as well as second or third opportunities to deal with an issue they may have been avoiding.

You see, I too have had to get hit over the head several times before I woke up to some unhealthy behaviors I had around money.  So I realize the value of coming back to fundamental issues again and again.  Besides, we don’t all hear things the same way.

My hope is that I never look upon any money behavior with judgment.  We all came to have our behaviors for different reasons, many of which had nothing to do with us.  Instead, many behaviors are inherited or carried forward from childhood, when we had little control over the messaging we were absorbing.

What I Believe

In short, I bring with me three underlying beliefs:

  1. We each must take personal responsibility for our lives.  In the end, that responsibility belongs to no one else and relinquishing it is like rolling the dice in a craps game: you have no control over the outcome.
  2. There are many roads to the same destination, including that of financial peace of mind.  None are wrong and none are right; they just take more or less time and effort.
  3. We are all dealt different hands in life and have different skills, but we all deserve the exact same financial peace of mind … however we define it.

I would hope those are the beliefs of any coach or advisor you align with.  Here’s what that means:  it means I cannot do the work for you, I cannot prescribe just “one right thing” and I have no right to limit in any way what your outcome might be.

On the other hand, there is just one person who can make anything happen, and that person is you.

Let me know in the Comments section below if you see mentoring, coaching or advising (whatever term you prefer) any differently.


Bio: Sharon O’Day fixes financial lives. She is a tell-it-like-it-is money expert with a successful career in global finance, plus an MBA from the Wharton School. Today she specializes in getting entrepreneurial women over 50 back on their game so they can have more money, less stress and more joy. With her “Over Fifty and Financially Free” strategies, they take actions that lead to their ultimate goal: financial peace of mind.

  • Thank you so much, Sharon. Your tips are helpful and I like the fact that you also provide an audio! I can relax with a cup of coffee and listen. Love it!

    • Aren’t those audios great? I figured that makes for a nice break … whether with coffee or whatever. And I think it’s important to hear someone’s voice …

  • Barbara Becker

    Great article, Sharon. I agree with you. There are only teachers and students, no masters. We are all One.

    • Love that line about “only teachers and students,” Barbara. So true, so true.

  • As usual Sharon – you are an amazing gifted writer about financial matters. The thing that keeps me coming back to you all the time is that you write in such a way that touches my heart – you always just seem to know how to say the right thing at the right time to me. Thanks to you. I own my financial responsibility !!! Love saying that.

    • There are a few phrases that bring such peace, Angela: “I am financially responsible” is one. Others include “I am debt free,” “my mortgage is paid off,” “I know I’ll be okay for the rest of my life”… 😉 And I know you get that!

  • Thank you for an eye opening article!

  • Thanks again for the kick in the pants and for admitting that you have made mistakes. It’s really helpful to say.. I made this mistake, here’s what I did to fix it, and because I’ve been there and back i know how to help!

    • Hope sharing my “messes” helps get you wherever it is you want to get with YOUR personal finances, Elizabeth!

  • Another helpful article on managing one’s finances. Thanks for sharing!

  • Hi Sharon, I agree that we all should take responsibility for our lives. Some times we as humans mess up because we are humans after all which makes us perfectly imperfect. You give some good advice here and show us how to learn from our mistakes, thank you for that.

    • If taken correctly, every mistake can be a lesson learned. And I believe we’re here to learn, right, Karla? Part of that “being human” thing … 😉

  • Tom Holmberg

    Thanks for sharing your story and your beliefs about personal finance. I agree we all need to take personal ownership of finances…otherwise you will be dragging someone else down

    • One of the toughest things for me is to work with a couple where one is ready to take control of their finances–and their future–and the other isn’t. Talk about “dragging someone else down!”

  • I love that picture of you above Sharon! I also appreciate how raw and open you are on your site. We can alwasys glean noew information here!

    • Thanks, Anita. Part of what I’m trying to convey is that there is no shame in stumbling with our finances. (Few of us were handed the secret to the kingdom as kids!)

  • MamaRed

    You’re so right, there is no “one-size-fits-all” and if we share what we’ve messed up in an open and honest way, we can share options with others and they can choose what works for them.

    • “Net-net,” as we say, MamaRed … we’re all in this together. And it’s not a zero-sum game so one woman succeeding with her finances does not mean another cannot!

  • great post, we are not perfect and teaching from experience is how we all learn. Thanks

    • Thanks, Scott. There’s not much “soul” behind teaching what one learns second or third hand. The passion’s in having had the experience!

  • Using our own unique experiences i have found is the best way to teach and learn…Thanks for the great post

    • Thanks for stopping by, Carly. I know that’s how you teach as well …

  • We each must take personal responsibility for our lives. I like that Sharon. It is time we grew up, don’t you think??? Tee-hee… Thanks so much for another inspirational post. x0x

    • I don’t know about growing up, Norma, but even looking at life with childlike wonder is easier when you have money in the bank! 😉

  • Shari

    I really like this post, Sharon. And I like Paulo Coelho too! Thank you for sharing your experiences, as well as your expertise.

    • Thanks, Shari! I’m so glad Paulo Coelho is getting so much national exposure with his books these days. Before, everyone thought of him almost exclusively from his ‘Alchemist’ mega-hit. He’s from Brazil, where I was raised, and we’ve been enjoying his writings–big and small–for a long time!

  • I agree with you 100 percent Sharon! The best thing a coach can do is give you the options, and help you sort through them. Ultimately it’s your life, and your choice as to which action to take (or not).

  • daniele holmberg

    I totally agree with you, espcieally when it comes to taking personal responsibility in our lives!

    • Daniele, some prefer to hand that responsibility over to others–whether to avoid accountability or simply because it feels too great to take themselves–and rarely does that work. (There might be a rare exception …) But taking a bit at a time and mastering it, then moving on to more, is so empowering. Nothing is more exciting to me than watching a woman take that responsibility back and thrive!

  • I love your underlying beliefs and am in total agreement. Wonderful post, Sharon, and your clients are extremely lucky to have you, your approach and your experiences.

    • Thank you, Lisa. Coming from someone who does what SHE does with her time and knowledge, I consider that a marvelous complement!

  • Sharon, I can tell by they way your write you have so much compassion for others. It doesn’t suprise me in the least that your clients get the breakthroughs they need! When you said: “My hope is that I never look upon any money behavior with judgment. We all came to have our behaviors for different reasons, many of which had nothing to do with us. Instead, many behaviors are inherited or carried forward from childhood, when we had little control over the messaging we were absorbing.” I think that goes for everything not just money.

    • You’re right, Susan, it DOES have to do with everything, not just money. We absorb so much as kids, when we were just trying to figure out how the world worked and soaking everything up as “truth.” And if we never went back to challenge it, it’s still influencing how we look at things … and how we act. The good news is that we can change it …