Mindset makes all the difference

One of my big priorities in 2015 was to finally get my financial house in order. I was always so busy with my day job that I never had time to figure out what financial moves I should be making. When I mentioned this to others, I learned there were many in the same boat so I decided to share my experience and research on this blog. The support I’ve received since then has motivated me to make a lot of progress and it's empowering to now feel more connected to my finances.

Reflecting on all of this, I think the big thing that changed for me was that I started thinking about my finances as a designer. I spent many years as a Business Designer at IDEO and it was actually that experience more so than my business school education that has informed and inspired this project. Designers approach problems with curiosity and optimism. They see complexity as an opportunity to create something better and they are generative in coming up with solutions. The meatier the challenge, the more exciting it is to a designer. That was the attitude I needed finally tackle financial planning.

Before I mentally made this shift, I always had a slightly negative mindset when it came to my finances. That’s probably part of the reason why I avoided doing anything for so long. I’d think stuff like:

It’s too much work to figure out what I need to know to make a good decision...
I’ll never pay off these student loans and I’ll never get ahead living in the Bay Area...
Insurance and estate planning are so morbid that I’d rather just not think about it...
There’s so much to figure out and I don’t even know where to get started...

From conversations I’ve had with others, I know I’m not alone. Personal finance is a topic that is sometimes overwhelming, often boring and is generally not something people want to spend their time thinking about. Yet it’s so important to do. This is a huge disconnect and I think there’s a big opportunity to reframe. Personally, here’s the reframing I have done:

FROM feeling guilty about what I haven't done or have done wrong

TO feeling optimistic about the chance to do things right thing in the future

TO breaking the problem down and addressing it bit by bit in the small pockets of time I do have

FROM totally ignoring the problem because I don’t have the time to think about such big topics

TO approaching topics with curiosity and an interest in learning something new

FROM feeling overwhelmed by all of the details and nuances

TO finding a good solution and implementing it now

FROM waiting to find the perfect solution

In 2016 I intend to continue on with the blog. I have a few more personal finance topics I’d like to research, summarize, and share. I’d also like to start writing more about the intersection of personal finance and design. I think everyone should feel in control of their finances and I believe that design is a powerful tool to help make that happen.  

I've really appreciated the feedback and comments I've received so far. I hope this blog is something that others continue to find useful. If there are any areas or topics that you'd like to see in 2016, please let me know.