“It’s not how you act when the pressure is on that determines your success. It’s how you act when the pressure is off.”
~ Jill 🙂
Today we’re going to talk about a common habit that keeps people stuck financially for years or even decades and it’s something you absolutely want to avoid if you want to achieve financial stability in your life once and for all.
It’s called the “pressure-cooker” dynamic and it’s a concept Tony Robbins teaches around diet and exercise but I see the exact same pattern happening with people and their finances.
So first, let me set up the scenario for you. Let’s say your finances are a mess. Let’s say you’ve been ignoring the problem, ignoring the problem, ignoring the problem.
Then something happens in your life and you are forced to deal with it. You can’t ignore it any longer. Your bills come due, the creditors call, you get stranded somewhere with your credit cards maxed out. You finally total up how much you owe. You’ve reached zero in savings. Whatever the situation is, you wake up and decide that you have to make a change.
(By the way, I find that Life will ask you nicely several times to make a change before finally grabbing you by the collar and demanding that you change. So it’s up to you to make an empowered decision to change before things get so bad that you’re backed into a corner. But that’s a topic for another day.)
So now, you’re frustrated and you feel a sudden burst of energy to start taking action and change. And this lasts for a little bit. Now you’re not AS frustrated as you once were. Maybe you’ve paid off HALF of your credit card debt. Maybe you’ve saved up a little bit of money. Maybe you’ve stuck to a budget for a few weeks. Or a few months.
What happens next is fascinating. Once the pain starts to subside, we slowly start feeling “okay” again. And we start to give ourselves permission to fall back into our old ways.
We justify with all sorts of reasons, too! (Trust me, I’ve been there — that’s why I’m aware of this.) We say: “Well my debt’s not AS high anymore.” Or, “well I’ve got SOME money in savings, it’s not as bad as it used to be.” Or, this one: “I’ve been working so hard on this, I deserve to take a break.”
And then we take our eyes off the prize, we backslide, we go unconscious and the next thing we know we’re right back to where we started. We go back into debt, we’ve spent our savings, we’re back to our old spending habits. And this goes on until we get upset again, we get motivated to make a change, and the cycle begins again. Out of debt, right back into debt. Save $5K, spend $5K.
The reason this happens is because we’re usually only motivated to take action when pain is really high. Once the pain goes away, we fall back into our old ways. Because without accountability, we tend to quit. We stop taking action.
So how do you end this cycle? Well, I teach this to my private clients and it’s something that a great coach can call you out on when they start to see this happening in your life in real time. Not months or years later when the damage is already done.
One way to end this cycle is to make sure that when you make a decision to get rid of the pain, that you back it up with a plan that you can stick to long term. Not one or two things that you do in the short term to ease the pressure. But instead you use that motivation to create a plan that includes small daily rituals that become automatic over time and keep you moving forward once the initial motivation wears off.
Trust me. The initial motivation WILL wear off. So when you accept this up front, you can make a smarter plan.
Another way is to keep your focus in front of you on a daily basis as a reminder of why you’re making this change in the first place. I call this knowing your “Big Why” and connecting with it often.
By understanding this dynamic, you can use your frustration and convert it into a long term plan that includes daily actions that you use consistently with your vision in front of you. When you get support you increase your chances exponentially of breaking the pressure cooker cycle and make lasting change.