How Positive Thinking Can Improve Your Finances

Goal setting and avoiding negativity can have as big an impact on your money as a raise.

By SHARE

Have you ever attempted a task that you thought was insurmountable? Go back in your mind as far as you have to. Perhaps it was as a child, when you thought you'd never run faster than your best friend. Or maybe, as a teenager, you thought you'd never get that driver's license. Or the time at work when you thought you'd never finish that big project. If you've succeeded in any of these goals, you did it through goal setting and a positive attitude—whether you know it or not.

[See the best personal finance stories from around the Web at the U.S. News My Money blog.]

This is the same approach you'll need to reach your financial goals. Though they can seem intimidating and unreachable, your financial goals are absolutely achievable. You'll just need create of series of smaller steps that lead you towards your goal—and begin with step one today.

Let's break the process down further.

How to Create Goals

Creating goals is an extremely effective tactic in improving any area of your life. Here's how to do it:

  1. Decide how you want your life to be different. In the case of finances, that will likely mean eliminating debt, then creating emergency funds and savings accounts, and finally investing your money in appreciable assets and investments.
  2. Find out where you stand. You can't know where you're going if you don't know where you are. No matter how dire your financial situation, you have to calculate your current state. It may seem difficult, but your problems certainly won't go away by ignoring them.
  3. Plan the steps that will lead to your goal. The reason that having a million dollars in your bank account sounds intimidating is because, well, it is. But saving $10,000 every year for 25 years doesn't sound quite as ominous. And with interest, that pace will get you there. All you'll have to do is find ways to earn more and spend less until you reach your $10,000 annual savings.
  4. Stay focused. Mapping out your path is usually the easy part. The tough part is staying on that path. You have to constantly remind yourself of your goal and why it's worth achieving. This is where a positive outlook will save the day.
  5. How to Create a Positive Outlook

    It's been said that "attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference." I couldn't possibly agree more. Your mind is a thought factory, and the thoughts it produces become your actions in life. Produce positive thoughts and you'll find ways to move forward to your goals. Produce negative thoughts and you'll wallow in stagnancy. Here's how to build a positive outlook:

    1. Become aware of your thoughts. Listen closely to that voice in your head. When you think, "I can get out of debt" or "I can be a millionaire," how does the voice respond? If it says, "No you can't, and here are a list of reasons why," then you have at least a partially negative factory. That's okay; becoming aware of that is the first step toward change.
    2. Force your mind to think positively. Just like a real factory can stop production or begin building a new product, your mind can begin creating positive thoughts. One of my favorite quotes on this says, "Having a positive mental attitude is asking how something can be done rather than saying it can't be." Begin by simply searching for ways to approach a problem. Your brain is extremely complex and intelligent, and it will naturally begin to find solutions.
    3. Speak positively. If anyone asks what you're focusing on in life, don't be bashful about telling them your goal. If they begin giving you reasons why it isn't possible, don't be afraid to tell them that you're sorry they don't agree. Remember, this is your life; you'll be the one to enjoy the benefits or face the consequences of what you do today.
    4. [In Pictures: 10 Smart Ways to Improve Your Budget.]

      How to Maintain Your Positivity

      Important goals, especially financial ones, can take a long time to reach fruition. This process can be extremely trying, especially when you witness the bad spending habits or negative attitudes of others. You must create a bubble of support and positivity around you.

      1. Control your first thoughts of the day. When you wake up, lay still. Take a few minutes and reiterate your goals. Remind yourself why these goals are important. Consider your plan for the day and make sure it aligns. This brief period of focus can have a major impact.
      2. Surround yourself with affirmative reminders. Reminders don't always have to come from within. Hang pictures and quotes around that will make you feel confident about reaching that future state. Some of my favorites are, "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty," and "Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right."
      3. Spend more of your time with positive people. It's been said that your success will be determined by the five people closest to you. If these people are pulling you back, saying you can't, and refusing to support you, it will be much harder to succeed. Choose a team who wants to learn about your aspirations, help you get there, and even to hold you accountable. This will make your path much, much smoother.
      4. Stay Positive and You'll Succeed

        The way to accomplish any task, no matter how big, is to break it into smaller pieces and start with the first step. With this approach you'll create a linear trail of dots which begin with this moment, right now. and end with your goal. Consider positivity to be your jetpack, allowing you to surge from dot to dot, breaking through every obstacle and pushing forward to success. With the right plan and the right attitude, anything is possible!

        Jane Sanders, creator of Debt Management, believes deeply in the power of planning and positivity. Visit her site for more information on creating a great debt management plan.