Your brain is wired to be on alert to any­thing that threat­ens your sur­vival.  The amyg­dala is an almond shaped sliv­er in the tem­po­ral lobe of your brain that is respon­si­ble for your pri­mal emo­tions like rage, hate and fear.   It serves as your ear­ly warn­ing sys­tem for dan­ger.

Once stim­u­lat­ed, the amyg­dala becomes hyper vig­i­lant.  Your fight or flight response turns on.  Your heart rates go up, nerves fire faster, eyes dilate, and your skin cools.  Once your amyg­dala is stim­u­lat­ed, it hunts for sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions that rein­force the cur­rent threat.  Every time it finds evi­dence, the threat is rein­forced and this keeps our fight of flight response in place.

The amyg­dala helped our ances­tors sur­vive in the jun­gle, where threats were ever present and often came by sur­prise.  But now in the mod­ern world it can dri­ve you crazy!  Your amyg­dala keeps you on high alert watch­ing for any­thing that threat­ens your sur­vival.  Mon­ey threat­ens your sur­vival.  With­out mon­ey, lots of bad things can hap­pen, and it doesn’t take long to imag­ine them.  Mon­ey is a per­fect atten­tion get­ter for the amyg­dala.

You are bom­bard­ed with infor­ma­tion, mil­lions of news out­lets vying for your atten­tion.  Look at media con­tent, online or tra­di­tion­al, and com­pare the neg­a­tive to pos­i­tive sto­ries.  Over 90% are pes­simistic! Bad news keeps your amyg­dala in fight or flight response.  Out­lets need bad news to keep you watch­ing and read­ing so they can sell more ads.

Good news doesn’t catch your atten­tion.  Once the amyg­dala finds bad news, it most­ly ignores any­thing pos­i­tive and attends over and over to the bad news.  Remem­ber, the amyg­dala doesn’t turn off until the dan­ger is gone.  UNTIL THE BAD NEWS IS GONE! When is the last time you looked at the finan­cial news and dis­cov­ered all the dan­ger was gone?   Have you ever had a day when there was no bad news?

This is a triple penal­ty

  1. It’s hard to be opti­mistic, because the brain is designed to attend to pes­simism
  2. Good news gets drowned out, because it is in the media’s best inter­est to keep your atten­tion, mean­ing more bad news
  3. With the prim­i­tive emo­tions of fear, wor­ry and doubt in charge, it shuts down the pre­frontal cor­tex, or the part of your brain that orches­trates thoughts and actions in accor­dance with our inter­nal goals. You need your pre­frontal cor­tex to align your inten­tion and action.

The part of your brain that you most need, the pre­frontal cor­tex, to set goals, to plan to take appro­pri­ate action that gets drowned out in our fear filled world.

It is Ok.  It’s not your fault.  It is just how you are wired.

But what do you do to thrive when your body is hold­ing you in sur­vival mode?

You try lots of things like:

  • Being an ostrich. The fear feels ter­ri­ble so you just put your head in the sand and pre­tend it’s not there.  But then you are stuck in sur­vival mode.  You’re not mov­ing toward your pros­per­i­ty inten­tion.
  • You make rash and impul­sive deci­sions. With the part of your sys­tem, the pre­frontal cor­tex, which is designed for ratio­nal, log­i­cal thought turned off, things can get crazy.  You buy finan­cial prod­ucts you don’t under­stand.  You take risks in your busi­ness that are not sup­port­ed by good data.
  • You try Liv­ing Low! My favorite strat­e­gy! You pinch pen­nies, and hope there will be some left over and then maybe, just maybe, you can get your needs met. This is a path to sur­vival, but not to thriv­ing or pros­per­ing.

Being an ostrich, rash and impul­sive deci­sions and Liv­ing Low, just doesn’t cut it.  All those strate­gies keep your amyg­dala in gear.  You need your pre­frontal cor­tex engaged.  You need a sys­tem that calms your fear and gives your pre­frontal cor­tex the tools that it needs to orches­trate and align your inten­tion, goals and actions.

Economies expand and con­tract.  Mar­kets go up and down.  Inter­est rates rise and fall.  These are not impos­si­ble events. These move­ments, which are referred to as uncer­tain­ty, because no one knows exact­ly when they will move and in what direc­tion, are a giv­en.  You need a plan that acknowl­edges this truth.  That builds in uncer­tain­ty and still helps you make deci­sions with con­fi­dence. Once you have this kind of plan you calm your amyg­dala and this allows you to use your pre­frontal cor­tex.  You move from sur­viv­ing to thriv­ing.

The one more piece of bad news is most finan­cial plan­ning today is deliv­ered in a way that does not sup­port your move­ment from sur­vival to thriv­ing.  But there are plan­ners out there using process­es that do in fact help you thrive.

Here is the secret.  When look­ing for a plan­ner, there are five crit­i­cal qual­i­ties (aside from pro­fes­sion­al com­pe­tence) that you can screen for in a plan­ner who will help you thrive.

They are:

  1. The sys­tem they use for plan­ning builds finan­cial mod­els that help you see the future. Ask for a demon­stra­tion.
  2. The way the plan­ner works is as a coach or advo­cate rather than a guru or sales per­son. Notice the way they con­duct them­selves in the first meet­ing.  Does it seem sup­port­ive to you?
  3. There is no place in the process for shame and guilt. If in your first meet­ing, the plan­ner tells you that you “should have” done this or that, you are in the wrong place. You are where you are now. There is no pur­pose oth­er than shame and guilt for look­ing at the past.
  4. The finan­cial plan – for your per­son­al life or for your busi­ness — serves as your pri­ma­ry finan­cial deci­sion mak­ing tool. So plan­ning nev­er stops.  It becomes an inte­gral part of your life.
  5. Your feel­ings and intu­ition are hon­ored as valid con­trib­u­tors to the plan­ning process.

Now you have a sim­ple set of cri­te­ria to help you find a plan­ner who will help you thrive.  No more hop­ing and guess­ing, just five sim­ple, easy qual­i­ties to deter­mine cri­te­ria.

I believe you deserve to thrive.  I believe that pros­per­i­ty is a pos­si­bil­i­ty for every­one.  But here is the catch. Thriv­ing and pros­per­ing are a choice.  Your choice.  You have to choose to step out of the fear of the day, calm your amyg­dala and move your think­ing into the pre­frontal cor­tex.  Most of us need help to make that step.

What is on the top of your to do list right now?  Is it thriv­ing and pros­per­ing?  Should it be?  Do you need help?  What is stop­ping you?

At Mack­ey Advi­sors help­ing peo­ple and busi­ness­es pros­per is our pas­sion.  If you need help, we’d be hon­ored to talk with you.

In joy,

Mack­ey