One day, when my husband was at work, I was at Macy’s looking for a purse to replace my worn-out one. I found a purse that I liked on the discount table. As I was walking to the cashier, I heard a voice saying, “Put it down. You don’t make money. You cannot afford it.” It was on sale for $19.99, nothing fancy. But I listened to that voice and put the purse back on the discount table. The truth is that this was a necessary purchase to replace my worn-out purse. I held back from buying it because I believed I should not spend what I don’t make. I would not replenish the money spent, and I felt guilty.
I wonder how many homemakers have felt this way. We have value in a marriage or partnership even though we might not be the income earners. I knew something was wrong and needed to do something about it. So I thought, if I could not make money, I didn’t have my green card yet, I could save money. Clipping coupons, looking up credit cards that generate rewards and researching how to save on taxes set me on the path to a career in finance. I knew I was on the right track when I found a tax-saving strategy our accountant missed (and I quickly found another accountant after that).
This is just one example of how overcoming my limiting beliefs changed the trajectory of my life, and I’d like to help you overcome yours too. In my new series, Women’s Million Dollar Conversations, we’ve discussed stretching our goals; now, it’s time to overcome the limiting beliefs that often hold us back. I’ve worked with many individuals, couples, and companies in my career as a ChFC®, Chartered Financial Consultant, and found virtually everyone has limiting beliefs around money and taxes that show up in different forms. The bottom line is recognizing when you say to yourself, “I am not worthy of X” or “I don’t deserve this.” And then ask yourself why.
For example, remember the purse I wanted to buy? When I told myself, “I cannot afford it,” I would have asked: do I have $19.99? Would purchasing the purse put me in credit card debt I don’t want to have? If yes, perhaps holding back is a good decision. But since that was not the case, the truth was closer to “I truly can have it, but I choose not to have it.” This powerful re-framing would have turned my “scarcity mindset” into an “abundance mindset.”
It turns out that several of my guests in the Women’s Million Dollar Conversations series have had something to say about limiting beliefs. Here are a few that highlight how invasive limiting beliefs are and how liberating they are to overcome.
Our Beliefs Can Hold Us Back
Alyssa Gasca, Owner and Principal of Spark Executive Solutions, shared limiting beliefs that had held her back but, once reframed, supported her path to success.
When she started her consulting business over 15 years ago, she attended “a seminar, where a coach asked us to write down our most limiting belief. It was the first time I wrote and said aloud, “I cannot be a good mother and make over $150,000 a year.” I thought I would never be able to make that much again (after leaving my corporate job) and show up as a good mom.
I had no role models for that. I didn’t see it, so I didn’t believe it. As the exercise progressed, I realized I didn’t have to believe that anymore. I can believe something different. That was a massive shift for me! Then I started wondering, what would it look like, or be like, to believe that I could make more money than I made in a corporate job and work less and be a great mother?”
Over the years, Alyssa has grown her business and has shown up as the mom she wanted to be, but limiting beliefs have a habit of growing with us. “Looking back now on my life, I don’t think I realized how many of my big life decisions were driven by that feeling of not having enough. So many of the choices I made in my life, career choices, financial decisions, vacations to take, whether to purchase something or not, something as little as a shirt I liked, or earrings that made me happy, was driven by a scarcity mindset, ‘‘I don’t have enough to do that,” Alyssa said.
“I don’t think I realized how significant a role played in my life until about two years ago when I asked myself, What would it feel like if I had enough? How would I walk in my life each day? And what decisions would I make if I knew I had enough money? And, things just started opening up; I felt free from the level of restriction I had mentally placed on myself for years.
I’ve ended up living into the vision of the role model I was looking for. I think I’ve done a good job, I feel integrity with my parenting, and I have earned good money doing my work and still love what I’m doing without working as many hours as I was in the corporate world.” Alyssa Gasca has reframed her limiting beliefs not once but twice to build her success and become the role model she once sought.
Another guest, Audra Smith, a financial industry professional focused on helping business owners with employee benefits, grew her career as a woman in a male-dominated profession. Audra said, “(I was held back by) my own self-limiting beliefs of feeling not good enough and that I couldn’t do it. I also found limiting beliefs about being a female leader among 16 male leaders. I used to think I needed to be one of the guys (to succeed). What I learned was my best self is who I am. So I stopped pretending, got comfortable with being myself, and now I walk into the room with my head held high.”
Find Your Limiting Beliefs
Alyssa’s story holds a lot of great reminders about common limiting beliefs: for instance, being a mom doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your income goals. She also shared two other beliefs she’s reframed from growing up in a blue-collar family, “working hard doesn’t necessarily mean you will be better off,” and “being ‘rich’ isn’t inherently bad.” And Audra Smith’s examples are also relatable for women professionals; once we embrace our differences, we realize they’re not weaknesses but our superpowers. So when limiting beliefs have been part of your “normal” since the beginning, how do you identify what’s true and a limiting belief?
One red flag is when you have an uncomfortable feeling, you resist or feel torn between what you want to do and what you “think” you should do or what’s expected. That’s the time to ask yourself why you are so frustrated. For example, if you have a dream about something that you don’t have right now, it might sound like “one day I want to…” the limiting beliefs are likely the first thing getting in your way. They may stem from others’ expectations or perspectives, or you may feel other priorities are more urgent. As soon as you have a dream and are held back by “buts,” that’s the limiting belief you should work on first.
Once you identify what you want to do, ask yourself, “Is this true?” Don’t stop there—ask your trusted circle, friends, significant other, and board of directors who believe in you. They can help. Once you know what the challenge is, you can find new opportunities.
Find a Big Enough “Why”
The next thing is to find a big enough WHY for you to overcome the limiting beliefs imposed by you or someone else. For example, in my second year of this career, I made $8000 in commission. At the beginning of my 3rd year, another female advisor at my office decided to quit and shared that “this is such a hard journey, we would never make a good income from it.” My husband overheard that conversation and was concerned about me, my professional future, and the 70 working hours each week. He was worried that I would end up disappointed after trial and error, eventually finding it would not work out just as that female advisor had.
This job was my only lifeline at that time to prove that I could take care of myself and “not be a burden to my husband.” That was my big WHY. I argued and cried, but we finally agreed to a schedule: if I didn’t make my goal by a specific date, I would do something with shorter working hours and a paycheck that I could count on. So I needed to get to a milestone, qualifying for the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), and I’m proud to report I did it in my 5th year!
Find Your Tribe
The best way to get out of your head and evaluate your beliefs accurately is to leverage your life’s “You can do it” voices. You need an excellent tribe to support your new, positive beliefs; most likely, they’re women in similar circumstances. Check out group coaching and organizations like Vistage. The other members are probably “swimming in parallel lanes,” and while the destination may be different, the journeys may be more similar than you might think.
We have many criteria when we are choosing our friends and trusted circle. Yes, they all have your best interest in mind and want to see you grow and succeed. However, I am talking about those who also have the experience, knowledge, and network to support you (and you can help them as well). So invite the people whom you want to become into your circle. Some of the women in the Million Dollar Conversations series are in my tribe, and we have supported each other through thick and thin. I’m so excited to share their stories with you, and I hope they inspire you to discover what’s truly possible for your financial future.
Find Your Financial Success Role Models
I’ve got plenty more women with relatable stories like Alyssa’s booked in the coming weeks, so stay tuned! Keep up with the Women’s Million Dollar Conversations series on askalicetang.com or subscribe to my YouTube channel to get notified of episode releases. If one of these stories inspires you, do your trusted circle a favor by sharing it with them. We all need accessible and approachable role models, and I hope you can help fellow women professionals find theirs in Women’s Million Dollar Conversations.