Avoidance: The Psychological Money Trap We All Use

“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” (Mark Twain)

Question: Why is procrastination so costly?

Answer: Because…

  1. Time is money.
  2. Accomplishing priorities increases financial success.
  3. The early bird gets the worm.
  4. It causes “learned helplessness” and “down time.”
  5. All of the above are correct

We believe the correct answer is E. In today’s blog and the next one, however, we will focus on D because:

  • Overcoming learned helplessness is highly empowering.
  • Psychology of Money teaches how to accomplish that.

Quick review: In our second May blog, we introduced six psychological money traps people use to undermine financial and life success (i.e. the RAPIDS) which are:

  • Rationalization
  • Avoidance
  • Project of Blame
  • Idealization
  • Denial
  • Splitting

We suggest you read or re-read that blog, “River Rafting your Way to Financial Success,” before reading further.

When we began helping clients over thirty years ago, Rationalization was the most common money trap our clients used. We actually had a number of clients whose financial success was not hindered by Avoidance. Those were the “good old days” before personal computers, cell phones, twitter, the Internet and the importance of networking and multiple “streams of income, etc. Life was simpler, the world was smaller and time passed more slowly.

We all know what happened to change that: The information age and a more competitive global economy! Now there is too much to do. We have so many choices, paper work, technology, legal requirements and business meetings to attend that even the most diligent of us “put off some important activities until tomorrow.”

Coaching Client Example: We are going to use a former client who was self-employed in a service business since this scenario applies to most entrepreneurs and service industries. She began a personal coaching practice five years prior to becoming a client. Despite being well trained and having excellent communication skills, her coaching business was stalled at a level where her practice was only one-third filled. Literally, for each new client she acquired, an ongoing one would leave. Her more successful colleagues said the best way to increase her practice was by doing more networking and public speaking. Even though she agreed with them, she had Avoidance behavior and kept procrastinating.

To Navigate A:
In order to coach her, we co-created a five step action program with her to:

  1. explore the reasons for her Avoidance
  2. understand how to overcome her learned helpless
  3. develop a series of small action steps to attain her goal,
  4. discover ways to reward herself as she accomplished the small action steps,
  5. do specific follow-up tasks between the coaching meetings,

Learned helpless has been recognized and researched by psychologist, Martin Seligman, Ph. D. It occurs when a person believes his ability to succeed is impossible so he gives up trying (Avoidance), even when success is possible. In our next blog, we will explain how learned helplessness interfered with our former client’s success, how she overcame it and how she changed her life.

Questions to stimulate your thinking and comments:

  • Can you think of a famous person who has used Avoidance?
  • How did Avoidance interfere with his or her financial success?
  • How have you navigated Avoidance to enhance your financial success?

In the mean time, if you want to learn how to use Psychology of Money for overcoming Avoidance and increasing your financial success, we are giving a workshop, “Turning Financial Stress, Worry, and Fear into Abundance,” on Saturday, October 24, at UCLA Extension.