Contrary to popular belief, abundance has little to do with not having enough resources (time, money, attention, etc.). It has more to do with how we feel about ourselves and how we contribute to others (including the risks we take). The truth is there is enough (resources) to go around for everyone. In order for you to win, others don’t have to lose because life is not a zero-sum game.
Here are some examples of how a lack of abundance mindset keeps us from living a full life:
When it comes to writing on this weblog, there are times I worried I would run out of things to write (learn) about, which stemmed from a scarcity mindset. But, I reminded myself that there were plenty (of ideas) where my writing came from. I’ve written more than 150 pieces at this point, but had you asked me when I started, I would have no idea that I would reach this point (let alone strive to write more). Instead, I simply focused on showing up and doing the work because that is all you can do.
Undercharging and overdelivering to your clients is another sign of a poverty mindset. It reflects your low self-esteem and shows that you’re not confident about yourself and the work you’re doing, and you’re justifying the low fee by working more. Not only do you (choose to) get paid less for that work, but you also end up working more, and you have no one to blame but yourself.
Other times, we feel like impostors with our work. We allow ourselves to be intimidated and scared because we doubt our own abilities, judgement, and expertise. We think we don’t deserve our success. We are afraid that one day we might be “found out”. The trouble with this line of thinking is that when we think like impostors, we act like one.
We don’t think big enough. Our modest/absent goals and aspirations reflect our small thinking. I could write a whole piece on this (and I will), but there are lots of examples that come to mind now. For instance, it’s pointless to get into the minutiae of spending money on everyday things like food, utilities, gas, and mileage (among other things). Only those who can’t afford it talk about it. This is the antithesis of having an abundant mindset. Stop talking about things and money by qualifying them as cheap or expensive (which is subjective anyway). We set small goals and we are happy when we achieve them. The problem occurs when we don’t set higher goals. If you’re not always moving forward, you’re moving backward.
A lot of times we say (without thinking) that “we don’t have time to do x”, which actually means that we don’t have “true priorities” in our lives. This would be an example of “time scarcity”. We forget that time is not something that exists outside of us. Yes, time is a limited resource, but how we use it is our choice and responsibility.
Here’s the thing: The better you feel about yourself, the more abundance you have, the more tolerant, and the more resilient you’ll be to face (and overcome) the challenges in your life.
Here are some things that keep us from having an abundance mindset:
We refuse to change/evolve over time. We don’t periodically examine our beliefs, which informs our behaviors. We stick to the same habits, we read the same books, meet and greet the same people, stick to the same routines. We don’t value our differences with others, and we don’t think about our lives enough, which keeps us from living fully.
Our friends don’t evolve along the same path with us over time. They talk about the same things and you don’t learn anything new. Don’t be afraid to abandon old friends and make new ones. I don’t mean to suggest that you cast off your friends, but if you have friends that are keeping you from moving forward (inadvertently or not, with their stagnant beliefs/behaviors), then you’re better off without them. Other times, it could be that your spouse/partner is holding you back (inadvertently or not). They have more influence on you than most, which could work to your benefit or not, so it’s vital that you both share the same core values and beliefs.
We don’t engage in provocative discussions enough with those whose opinions we respect and trust, and because of that, we are never challenged to change our worldviews. We are reluctant to change our views because resistance is doing a good job of making us stick to the status quo. It’s easier to be compliant (cog in a wheel) than to challenge the existing views.
We fear change because of what we might hear or experience. When we meet others who have a vastly “better life” than us, we respond in one of two ways: we either move away from them (because we think we are not like them and because they force us to challenge our thinking and worldviews), or we are attracted to them and want to learn how to be “successful” like them. Moreoever, it’s easier to be who we are now than to imagine what we could be in the future.
We underestimate the power of the tremendous pull an environment has over us, and we do little to change it. We don’t take enough vacations to take time off from work, to learn about different cultures, etc. because we are “working” so much of the time. We keep doing the same things and we keep expecting different results.
We don’t change our “priorities” over time and we fail to understand that they don’t exist in a vacuum.
We live our (short) lives based on other people’s metrics for “success”. We forget (or we don’t know) what matters to us. When we live a life based on other people’s expectations, we only end up disappointed and filled with regret because we were too busy living someone else’s life rather than our own. The problem is, regret often comes too late at a point when nothing can be done about it.
We don’t set higher goals as time progresses. As we get better and become more successful, we need to continually raise the bar. Remember, the only person we are competing with is ourselves.
Then, there is fear of failure — fear of making mistakes — which is keeping us from having an abundance mindset. If we had this mindset, we wouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes because we would be learning from them (rather than worrying about them) and making progress.
Most of us regard money as wealth, and we chase it all our lives. We forget that real wealth is discretionary time, and money is simply fuel to sustain our lives. Besides, we can always make another dollar, but we cannot make another minute. Choosing to invest in time (to save money) is an example of a poverty mindset.
Here are some things we can do to have an abundance mindset:
Examine your beliefs regularly (and question your assumptions) as they inform your behaviors. Have strong opinions, but hold them loosely. Be open to changing your mind. It’s not a drawback or a detriment to do so, but a sign of good mental health. Be open to meeting different kinds of people, not just the ones who share your worldviews. Value your differences. Be open to change; it’s only when we explore and experiment that we can find something meaningful.
Watch the language you use to talk to yourself; you can often tell if a person comes from an abundance or poor mindset from the language they use to talk to themselves (and with others).
Identify your fears; what is holding you back (friends, family, limiting beliefs, etc.) from moving to the next level? Don’t be afraid to try new things. Learn from your mistakes and move on. The obstacle is the way.
Trust your judgement and your ability to do things. Don’t let the voice of resistance bring you down. Instead, ackowledge it, then ignore it, and do the work with confidence.
Have a support system of family and friends who love you unconditionally and are looking out for you. Have diverse friendships and relationships and seek to actively improve your relationships (starting with your spouse).
Always have a win-win mindset with others. What is in your best interest should also be in others’ best interests.
Abundance mindset is when you realize you need help and you’re not afraid to seek it out, personally or professionally. Be willing to make different mistakes, learn from them, and move on. Trying to keep yourself from making mistakes and avoiding failures will hold you back. It’s not enough to move toward an abundance mindset, you have to shut the doors behind you to keep those fears from creeping back at you.
It’s only when you have an abundance mindset that you can strive to improve. That means being happy and grateful for what you have while you pursue the things/experiences you want.
By the way, abundance doesn’t mean you use your resources maximally. You use your resources wisely. Just because you have plenty of resources doesn’t mean you use it willy-nilly.
Abundance requires balance — not just being nice, but also being willing to be tough. That means having high courage and high sensitivity with others.
Seek out mentors in your profession who will help you advance to the next level. There is always someone ahead of you in terms of career growth; use their experience and learn from their mistakes.
Always strive for excellence and avoid the perfection trap. When you’re 80% ready, you move. No one cares about the final 20%. By the way, there is no limit with improving on an abundance mindset; you can always strive for more (and there is no downside).
Building your self-esteem toward having an abundance mindset is a daily pursuit. If you don’t use those (mental) muscles, they’ll atrophy.
Stop trying to help others at your own expense. You can’t help others unless you help yourself first. This goes back to having a healthy selfishness.
There is more than enough time when you focus on the right things. Stop having a “time scarcity” mindset; stop saying you don’t have time to do things when you choose not to do them. It’s not just about the semantics.
Abundance has nothing to do with the money you have in the bank or the time you have to do things. It’s how you feel about yourself. It’s an attitude and a mindset. Think about how you can be more abundant in your thinking and in your actions. Before you start each day, ask yourself, what can I do to improve my abundance mindset?