What gets in your way? What stops you from doing what you really want to do? For too many people, it's money.
I did some work with The School of Life, in partnership with the credit experts Experian. Our research showed that 42% of people who wish to try something new, to live a more fulfilled life, blamed their failure to get started on money, or the lack of it. Roughly the same number of people said they would be happier if they had better control of their finances.
For most of my life I might have said the same, and occasionally – when cashflow is tight – I still feel that way. But working as a coach with executives, entrepreneurs and creative people alike has helped me to see that the problem doesn't usually lie in the money itself, but in our attitude towards it.
For much of the time, we are fearful, and don't dare to look at the situation we are in. We're too afraid of what we might discover. So we carry on in denial, blaming external circumstances, in a generalised way, for whatever bothers us.
The only way we can liberate ourselves from our fear is by looking at what we're avoiding.
My work with Experian started with the company's decision to make individual credit scores freely available to anybody, for life. The more I thought about it, the more I came to see this score as a perfect metaphor for The Thing We Really Don't Want To Look At.
In fact I realised that I myself was holding back from looking up my score. Despite working with Experian on this project, I held off for weeks before actually getting round to it, only looking it up hours before I turned up at a public event at the top of the Gherkin in the City of London, with Experian staff and a group of talented bloggers, some of them personal finance wizards.
Sitting at my desk that morning, I felt my shoulders go up during the two minutes or so that it took to provide the necessary information online. I felt my jaw clench. And I paused for a moment before pressing “submit”.
As it happens, I am very happy with what I discovered. My rating puts me in the green zone on that Experian dial at the top of this page. But it's not the score itself that caused my shoulders and jaw to relax. It's the fact that I looked it up at all. Because as soon as I had done that, I felt that I was back in control.