Stuff you don’t know about yourself

On a scale of 1 to 6 where 6 equals ‘extremely disgusting’, how would I score seeing someone’s bone sticking out of their leg?

After polishing off Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test this week (in which he spends time with Rachel North, a survivor of the 7/7 bombings in London who saw much worse than this), bumping into this question on a personality test didn’t seem all that strange at the time.

But I’m racing ahead of myself, because before I got onto the more general personality tests that posed questions such as these, first I fell down the rabbit hole of trying to find the perfect online assessment of how my relationship with money might be characterised.

When it comes to money I’m an ostrich (otherwise known as the Avoider), that’s what several of the money tests I took told me this week. I recognise myself in these labels.

Two deviated. One said I was an Achiever! And the other that I’m an Idealist. For a round up on these tests and which to take, I’ve put together this new page for readers who want to quiz themselves.

But back to ME. After almost an entire day faffing around on the internet, that I prefer to avoid thinking about anything to do with money wasn’t the gem of insight I was hoping for. I knew that already. It’s why I designed Counting Zeros in the first place.

Instead these were the revelations that I stumbled across which have caused pause for thought.

Insight Number One: Poverty vs Wealth

This is the single most illuminating question I was asked across the whole battery of tests I came across:

Becoming rich is a common goal. Not becoming poor is another. How do you weigh the relative importance of these goals? 

a) 40% becoming rich / 60% not becoming poor
b) 20% becoming rich / 80% not becoming poor
c) 60% becoming rich / 40% not becoming poor
d) 80% becoming rich / 20% not becoming poor

I didn’t have to think about this for longer than a nano-second. I’m a very firm ‘b’.

Is this why I’m a money phobic? If my relationship with money is driven by fear and insecurity, then surely it’s best not to know how bad the news may be?! It certainly tallies with the fact that my scores across all the tests show that I’m anxious about money while also somewhat ambivalent about material riches. Which for some people would make no sense at all.

Insight Number Two: Labels aren’t as useful as Explanations

While I’ve one gripe with this test, Eileen Gallo’s model of money personality is simple, comprehensive and frighteningly enlightening. She offers three dimensions to handling money — how we acquire it, how we manage it and how we spend it. While there’s no neat little label like Achiever or Idealist or Avoider or Ostrich at the end, this tests reveals an interesting dynamic that other tests don’t delve into. (My gripe? The acquisition dimension asks how badly we want money vs how easily we acquire it, which I think is the more pertinent question.)

Gallo’s test crystallised to me what drives my desire to avoid financial realities.

If I’m going to be avoidant about acquisition, chaotic about managing it and excessive about spending it, no wonder I’ve such an extreme aversion to budgets, they never add up!

Insight Number Three: Explanations aren’t useful without Motivation to change

Do I really want to modify my money personality? Maybe I have the one that suits me best? Another insight for me this week was how troublesome one particular frequently recurring question became, no matter how different tests phrased it. What are my financial objectives? What do I want money to do for me? Gosh. I was stumped. That’s why I found the ‘what are my goals’ page hard to write when I launched Counting Zeros at the start of the year. I don’t really have financial goals aside from the fact that ideally …

I”d like to work a lot less in exchange for more money so that I can spend what I need to live as I want, while investing zero time muddling my mind with the actual labour behind managing my personal finances.

It’s all about having the cake. That’s not quite the same thing as having a financial strategy, is it? It’s just a big wish unless I can work out what any of that means in real numeric terms.

So I was reminded this week how little I understand about how my values in life might map to specific financial objectives. Ones that don’t cancel each other out. Vaguely, I know things like the reason why I don’t beat myself up with the amount I spend travelling and socialising is because nothing is as important to me as my friends and family. But I also get it that the more I spend, the harder I have to work, the less time I have for my loved ones. So how do I get the balance right? How do I understand money in such a way that what I do with it makes sense in terms of the person I am and the life that I want?

Finding the answer to this is the true raison d’être for Counting Zeros and it is my only true motivation to change from an ostrich into one smart little bird.

 [To support me in my quest please follow this blog by entering your email address in the upper right hand corner – thanks!]

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