Why Your Personal Relationship With Money Can Help You Live “The Good Life”

Your relationship with money

There are certain guidelines to follow in order to strengthen your relationship with money and enhance your personal and professional lives.

We know that secrets to business success include networking and building relationships. The idea of a “relationship” with money sounds like a misnomer. It seems only natural having relationships with our friends, colleagues, family and even our personal trainers and hair stylists, but not with money. It’s not a person, it’s a thing. But in reality, we each have a long-term relationship with money by the time we reach adulthood.

Your relationship with money is informed by what you saw, experienced, and heard about it growing up.

For some people, money equals peace of mind and for others it spurs a burning desire for more. Some received positive messages around gaining wealth while others heard that money is the root of all evil. While you might not think of these messages as influencing a relationship, they do, because we act on what we believe. If you believe that “rich people are bad”, you are less likely to try to accumulate wealth. Each belief creates your mindset around money that leads to your behaviors and habits.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to overlook this relationship with money on your path to success. Until you stop and understand that relationship and how it was formed, there is a potential roadblock in reaching your long-term business goals. So, let’s get back to the basics. Here are some tips to help you become aware of your relationship and some strategies to help you improve your money life.

Let’s start with a few of your beliefs about money:

Money, to me, is___________________
Saving for the future is ______________
Talking about money to my partner/spouse/significant other is ________
Sometimes, when I am anxious, I tend to spend unwisely. True/False

These beliefs should provide you with an idea about your current relationship with money. If you’re not fully satisfied with how your money life is operating, here are some strategies to consider adopting:

Strategy #1: Become intentional.
Our lives are so complex and busy (and we do so many things on autopilot) that being aware and intentional becomes a huge challenge. We don’t always consider the big picture because we don’t have the time, focus or knowledge to make clear decisions. When it comes to succeeding with your finances–both personally and in business–your mindfulness needs to be front and center to your decisions and actions.

Strategy #2: Set realistic goals.
It’s somewhere between difficult and impossible to set goals when you have no plan in place to reach them. How do you know if your goals are realistic unless they are put in relation to other aspects of your financial life? You might want monetary comfort, but you might not be acting in ways that bring you closer to your objectives. Now is a good time to reassess who is helping you make your financial decisions. For example, is your planner working on commission instead of fee-only? It’s best to work with someone who is incented to provide advice with only your best interest in mind.

Strategy #3: Track your progress.
When it comes to your behaviors and habits, it’s vital that you mindfully track your decisions and actions. It’s great to “want” to run a multimillion dollar business or retire with sufficient wealth. It’s another to actively work towards that end. If you deviate from your goal, it’s not fatal, but the constant piling on of mistake after mistake can destroy your dreams. Get your advisor to earn their keep and ensure you’re talking to them regularly. Make sure your goals are aligned with your habits and behaviors.

Strategy 4: Learn how to talk about money without starting a war.
One of author Stephen Covey’s famous seven habits states: “First seek to understand, then be understood.” In keeping with this thought, if your financial life is connected to another’s, chances are, they have a different money history than you. Since you each feel that the lessons you learned are “normal” you each believe in the correctness of those beliefs. Money conversations can be tricky, unless you create a pathway to open communications that avoids triggering defensiveness and blame. Instead of reaching for the nuclear codes, you can create mutual boundaries that keep the discussion productive and safe. Before getting down to the money conversation, arrange a time and place that is private, comfortable, and free of distractions and interruptions.

Your relationship to money can be your greatest ally in moving you closer to living the life you value most. Or it can be your greatest nemesis in achieving your dreams. Only you can modify, alter, adjust or redefine your relationship to support you in your version of the good life.

This article originally appeared on Inc.com.