We have all learned by now that trying to keep up with the Joneses is no way to live.
Yet, we have this ingrained barometer that ticks off when we hear or see someone with something more than ourselves.
Because we view money in relative not absolute terms we are often irrational in our thinking. We are wired to be “loss averse.” It hurts more to lose money than to win money. At the same time we don’t treat money equally in terms of our “feeling about it.”
Which would you choose,
- Win $50 at Bingo or
- Have $50 cut from your phone bill.
It is the same $50, but we don’t see it that way.
On the other hand when we pay with a credit card we get to experience the pleasure of buying without the pain (yet) of what it will cost. Using this rationale, the Money Gurus tell us to automate the same process in reverse—set up automatic deductions for taxes, IRA, Health Accounts, Savings so that we can use this same system to our advantage. Once they are set up we rarely change them.
Other defaults might include, telling your mortgage broker to contact you when rates drop ¾ to 1 percentage point below what you have now. If in fact, you can refinance you might save thousands of dollars over the course of a home loan.
Some research shows that when an employer automatically enrolls a new hire into the retirement plan, participation increases dramatically. If not, we just get lazy.
Finding ways to set up these defaults will increase your feelings about your financial situation and move you in a positive direction.
Last month, our ten year old daughter, who is in love with Louis IV and all of his trappings begged us to have a Royal dinner party in which everyone came dressed as royalty, gave themselves royal names, and ate in a royal fashion. Putting her off for longer than we would like to admit, we sat down one day and talked about what this dinner party would be like.
"Royal costumes! Everyone has to come dressed like some royalty. They can be a King, a Prince, a Duke, or a Countess. I am of course, Comtess Zoe-Pascale de Saxe Roux of Languedoc, Rousillion."
Now, being a tween she was also aware of the fact that some of her friends might think she was "uncool" and therefore wanted to invite family friends. At first we tried to dissuade her, but realized she had actually come up with a solution to the problem she felt (operative word, felt) she had which was not to be "uncool."
In her eloquent Franglais, she crafted the Royal invitation and sent it out to a few family friends asking them to RSVP with their titles and come appropriately dressed. To our surprise, all the invitees answered with hysterical messages that asked, "Where should we park the carriage and horses?" "Will there be water for the horses?"
This week, my husband Jean and I attended a dinner and book signing by Mireille Guiliano, the author of Why French Women don’t Get Fat and The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook.
In a small intimate gathering at Moussy’s restaurant in San Francisco we were served a menu (taken from her book) that melted in your mouth. The appetizer was enough to make me swoon with flavors bursting with mixtures of prosciutto and blackberries and d’anjou pears and blue cheese topped with walnuts on toasted baguette.
Being a “when I have time to cook, cook” I have experimented over the last 5 years with a few of what I call my signature dishes. After talking with her I am determined to expand my repertoire and try what she suggested were some easy, fast, and flavorful dishes.
But first back to the menu. The first course was roasted gulf prawns with a citrus and fennel salad. I don’t know about you, but I love prawns but have never figured out how to cook them unless they are part of a shrimp cocktail. Grilled shrimp here we come! The entrée, a delicious grilled hanger steak with the long stemmed flowering broccolini was amazing. Most importantly we were reminded of the portions being small (why French women don’t get fat) and yet so flavorful that every bite was a trip to heaven. Okay, there was a superb chef cooking for us, but still anything is possible.
Conversing with Mireille over desert we discussed the Vanilla Panna Cotta with organic strawberries, candied pinenuts and Mint. The chef told me later he added his own ingredient of fennel pollen honey imported from Italy. Take away the amazing honey flavor Mireille attested that it would take 3 minutes to make the desert (albeit it does need to be prepared ahead of time to gel) and is both brilliant and healthy.
I shared with Mireille that we sit down at the table every night (I got ten points for that one) but our daughter was complaining that we ate too much chicken. She loved my lamb chops too, but I needed something else easy that wasn’t chicken.
Excerpt from upcoming book, Courage and Croissants, Inspiring Joyful Living
As our book is coming into the final finishes I am happy to share with you the section on Life Guidebook Tips.
The following tip is one of my favorites as it says you don't have to have it all figured out, you just have to have a feeling, a dream, a hope, a sense and as you lean into it, let the breeze take you towards something wonderful.
Enjoy and let us know what you are dreaming of and willing to lean into as well.
Guidebook Tip #15: Lean into creating the life you want to live
Take the first step in faith.
You don’t have to see the whole staircase.
Just take the first step.
Martin Luther King Jr., Legendary Civil Rights Leader (1929-1968)
Having a clear vision is one of the best motivators for creating the life you want to live. However, sometimes we just aren’t that clear. We have a fuzzy idea, a sense of what we want, and a hope that clarity comes to us sooner than later. Similar to painting a fantastic landscape we don’t know exactly where it is going to take us, but we are willing to continue to put layer after layer of paint on the canvas.
Even without a vivid vision, you can start to live the life you want by going with the idea. Just start and let the momentum take you with it. Experiment, let it guide you, learn along the way, and use the feedback to clearer on the direction you want to go.
A few tips for leaning into the life you want to create:
- Be willing to start without seeing what the end result might look like
Simply start doing what makes sense and let the next logical action present itself to you.
If you have always wanted to run a marathon. Start by walking, run a few steps, and before you know it you might be running a mile, joining a running club or training with a group. A variety of options will present itself to you if you just start.
- A fuzzy idea or dream is a great place to start.