In this week's lesson, we discuss how to overcome scarcity thinking — an excessive focus on what you lack that takes away from you have.
From a child onward you have likely been taught the importance of properly managing your resources. You've probably had hundreds of sayings and cliches drilled into you, such as:
"Time is of the essence" "Life is too short""Money doesn't grow on trees"
And all of these lessons — passed down by parents, teachers, and other authority figures — contributed to your view that resources in this world are limited.
So by now, as an adult, you probably believe that there's only so much to go around and one person's gain is another's loss.
This belief is the basis of scarcity thinking.
Despite what you've been taught, operating under the belief that everything in life is limited (be it money, time, or relationships) actually causes you to mismanage your resources.
That's because scarcity thoughts, decisions, and actions are driven by a fear of lack.
Fear of lack leads to tunnel vision: obsessively focusing on what you don't have to the point that you exhaust your mental capacity and end up making poor decisions that keep you trapped in the very state of lack you are trying to get out of.
An example of this is a stingy or selfish individual. This person doesn't like to give because they fear losing what they have. So they keep their fist closed tight around their money or means.
Unfortunately, they don't realize if they don't open their hand they will never receive more than their current lot. Because if nothing can get out, nothing can get in.
There are two ways you can avoid the fate of the stingy individual, overcome your fear of lack, and establish a sense of security.
First, recognize that you have an unlimited supply of resources in the form of powerful internal tools like intelligence, resourcefulness, imagination, creativity, and drive. These are at your disposal anytime you need them.
Second, be clear on what’s actually a need. Your basic needs have a concrete means of fulfillment but your wants can be never-ending. Try not to let insatiable urges drive unchecked wants as they'll create a misperception of having too little.
Some people mistakenly think that minimalism automatically equates to being frugal with your money, tight with your time, and reserved with your energy.
However, there's a thin line between decreasing excess and causing deprivation. Since being in a deprived state of mind causes a greater strain on your existing resources, the purpose of this lesson is to help you distinguish between the two.
1. Read my article Minimalism is not Asceticism.
2. Identify an area in life where an intense fear of lack is leading to poor decisions (i.e. a deprived state of mind) that make the situation worse.
3. Try to cultivate a more abundant mindset in this particular area. You can do this by reading and applying the tactics outlined by executive coach Katia Verresen in this interview.
Don't have time right now to work on your challenge? Schedule it later.
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Don't worry if you don't immediately solve your scarcity situation. It's more about the reflection process than the solution. Consider this challenge a success if you commit the time to working on it.
Scarcity: The New Science of Having Less and How It Defines Our Lives
This book summarizes the self-imposed limits we put on ourselves because of our limited thinking. It also provides some insight on how we may better manage scarce resources (e.g. time, money, energy) and increase our happiness in the process.
The concept of how scarcity thinking leads to tunnel vision (which ultimately worsens your state of lack) was derived from this book.
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