“Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game.” - Billionaire Donald Trump
Everybody worries about money sometimes. As writers, freelancers and online entrepreneurs, money is one of our biggest worry. Some of us are just breaking free from the 9-5 job and barely surviving financially. Others are seasoned freelancers facing a dry spell with no or very low pay. While worrying about our situation is a normal reaction, it usually brings more harm than good.
Worry stems from fear. It is the act of thinking about the unknown in a fearful way. No matter what your situation is, if you think about it too much such that you fear its outcome, that thought will stay with you, generate similarly frightening thoughts and create constant worry. The more you think about that situation or concern, the more anxious and worried you feel.
And that’s the kind of fear and worry that causes you harm!
Free your Mind and the Rest Will Follow
Money comes and money goes. Don’t base your happiness on it. If you put money ahead of everything, you will only begin to use it as a metric for your success. This is a bad idea because the more money you make and the more things you accumulate, the more you will look around and find there is someone who has more than you have. And that will brings you stress and take your joy away.
Make as much money as you want. That is not the issue. The issue is when your money is threatened to go away or decrease can you manage your anxiety and stop anticipating negative outcomes all the time? Easier said than done, but financial stress and anxiety is dangerous. It can trigger emotional distress or depression, affect your mental wellbeing and hinder your ability to work and improve your situation.
When you free yourself of constant worry, however, you reduce your stress levels, increase your self-drive and boost your overall happiness, health and success. Corrie Ten Boom said it best, "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength." Free your mind from money worries today and good things will follow.
The Way to Free Your Mind
One of the best ways to free your mind from worry is to simply stop spending your time imagining and anticipating bad outcomes about the future or about a perceived reality of past events that may or may not come true again. Just stop obsessing with negative outcomes and pessimism. Pessimism and negative thinking are holding you back. Instead, adopt a positive mindset and believe in yourself and in others.
Cultivate hope that things will work out for good somehow so you are not paralyzed by fear. Plan for tomorrow, while still acknowledging the present. Be more focused in the now and how you will improve it, rather than the past or future. This way you will free up your mental resources and feel a deeper sense of control and peace in your life.
When you have a deeper sense of control, you can think clearly about the best course of action to take to improve your state and live free.
15 Practical Tips to Keep Worry at Bay and Live Free
Since some worriers are in denial or don’t even realize they worry as much as they do, extra steps may be required to keep the worry at bay. Here are some practical tips to rid yourself of worry, live more in the present and stay calm and relaxed even when things are not going well.
1. Stop negative talk.
Stop saying negative things all the time like, “If only I had more money, I would...” Instead, practice positive thinking and positive talk. Ask yourself: “Can I do anything about this thing I am worried about?” If you can do something, do it. If you can’t do anything, let it go and focus on something else. Dwelling on negative thoughts and wishy-washy talk hurts your self-esteem and places too much emphasis on material things, rather than more important virtues like hard work, determination and patience.
2. Write down what’s bothering you.
Write down all those nagging worries on a piece of paper, pocket them (or put them away) and continue with your life. Writing down what’s bothering you has a calming effect and helps empty your brain and purge it of pent up emotions. You might even realize your worries are irrational and you don’t have as many problems as you’d thought.
3. Read about successful people and how they made their wealth.
When you read widely on the topic of money and wealth, you'll discover some of the wealthiest, most successful people on earth have been in worse financial straits than you, and managed to get out of it. That “never-give-in” attitude is what makes them so great. Understanding that fact alone can start to bring back hope, stir endurance and give you a more realistic frame of reference in your life.
4. Practice mindfulness.
Be still for a little while and turn your thoughts inward. Too many times we focus on what we don’t have and spend a lot of time wishing we had them, neglecting the many blessing we already have in our lives. Practice mindfulness and meditate for just a few minutes every day. You’ll discover you have many blessing in your life that you should be thankful for and not unnecessarily worried about.
5. Turn off the TV—and keep it off.
At least, keep it off most of the time. There is nothing more distracting and brain numbing than watching the television all day. That showbiz life so glamorously depicted on television is usually a fallacy that can distort your reality and contribute to unnecessary pressure to live and act in a certain way. Read a book instead. Books are more beneficial for your brain.
6. Spend quality time with loved ones.
Quality time with loved ones is precious. When your hang out with your best friend and have a good conversation, play with your kids, or just take an afternoon walk with your partner, it calms your mind and helps you recalibrate your life's meaning and direction. You get an opportunity to truly connect with those that you love, which is a great way to blow off some steam, release stress and easy worry.
7. Take care of your health.
Quit bad habits like smoking and too much drinking, and don’t sit too long at your desk working. Take regular breaks in between work sessions; avoid eating junk food; stretch and exercise your body regularly and just live as healthy as you can. When you are healthy, your mind is in good shape and your body is fit. You also significantly reduce your spending on medical bills.
8. Limit use of the credit card.
Only use the credit card when you have to. Don’t max out your credit with impulsive spending. If your credit limit is $20,000, for example, and you charge $19,000, you are using 95% of your available credit. That kind of spending is a recipe for disaster. Keep your debt-to-credit ratio below 40% so you are not living beyond your means and attracting money troubles.
9. Pay your taxes on time.
And do so diligently and religiously. Financial specialists, a family member and even close friend can help you get your tax fundamentals in order. Paying your taxes on time also alleviates a lot of money woes.
10. Invest and save your money.
Save or invest at least 10% of your income. Saving and investing your money not only gives you peace of mind knowing you have enough money available for future needs like your children’s education and retirement, but also protects you against impulsive spending.
11. If you make some extra money, give it to charity.
Or, hand it over to someone who needs it more than you and ask them to use it well. Why? Because the whole point isn’t to accumulate more and more money, but to leave an impact. Understand that and you will liberate your mind and free your thoughts from obsession with income and personal gain.
12. Get enough sleep each night.
Your mind and body need enough sleep (between six and seven hours) each night for adequate rest and relaxation, and to ensure you wake up refreshed and energized for the day ahead. If you don’t get enough sleep over time it can cause energy imbalance and lead to sleep disorders like daytime sleepiness that impede your ability to perform day-to-day activities well.
13. Start your day bright and early.
They say that the early bird catches the worm, which is true. If you want to get more work done and, perhaps, make a little more money, wake up early at the same time before 6 am in the morning. Waking early gives you a head start on the rest of the world. It is no surprise the most successful and truly wealthy people in the world are proud early risers.
14. Work hard.
Get up at your normal time and do your job the best way you can—harder than everyone else. Don’t do the bare minimum and expect miracles. Success and monetary rewards come to those who are willing to work hard and consistently deliver real value in the world.
15. Appreciate the “small” stuff.
Stop and notice all the beauty around you, and extract happiness from common things. Smell the blooming flowers; See the birds glide in the blue sky; Watch a sunrise or sunset. Heck, go on a vacation and enjoy life out there while you still can. Don’t let fear and worry hold you back and steal all that away. All the energy we expend chasing money and fame isn't just exhausting—it's futile. Benjamin Jowett said it right: “The real measure of our wealth is how much we'd be worth if we lost all our money.”
See also: Alan Watts: What if money was no object?