We’ve all been there. I was there last week. The day I sat down to write this I had a phone call temporarily send me back that direction. A scarcity mindset is no joke. But there are things you can do to help overcome a scarcity mindset.
The fact that I considered writing this post and have now felt this mindset creeping in twice since convinced me to do so. This post will outline three tips to help you get out of a scarcity mindset.
Please keep in mind that this isn’t a one and done type situation; if you find yourself in a scarcity mindset you will likely need to work through these tips more than once.
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WHAT IS A SCARCITY MINDSET?
On the off chance you’re reading this and have been lucky enough not to have ever experienced a scarcity mindset, or just don’t know the name of what you’ve experienced, here is a quick definition.
According to this article in Psychology Today, “Scarcity is not just a physical limitation. Scarcity affects our thinking and feeling. Scarcity orients the mind automatically and powerfully toward unfulfilled needs.”
The mind focuses on present scarcities; if you’re hungry, you’re going to notice billboards with food. If you believe you have an immediate need, you might find yourself losing self-control and ditching long term priorities over what is perceived as the immediate need.
So if you’re in a scarcity mindset, it won’t matter that you have an unopened package of toilet paper and a food in the kitchen. You still think it might not be enough. And strangely enough… it can cause you to eat even more. Strange how the mind works, huh?
But, here are a few tips to help you combat that. As I said earlier, it’s probably not a once and done solution; a mindset learned over time will take time and work to free yourself from.
REEVALUATE THE SITUATION
Just like my panic last week (which I don’t even remember what triggered it), to the phone call this week, the situation is not one of impending doom. I let the alarm bells go off in my head because I thought there might be smoke.
There was no fire. There is no fire. But it was so easy to believe that one was on its way. Take a deep breath (or ten) and really evaluate the situation. For us, we’re ok. Your situation may be more serious.
If your situation leans toward the more serious end, your mindset is probably not wrong. You need to skip straight toward taking action. That action may range from taking on more hours at work to finding a local food pantry.
Sadly, it may be even worse than that. I’ll be honest; this post won’t help you much. That reality is simply beyond my realm of expertise. If however, you reevaluate the situation and find it isn’t very grave, this post should help you quite a bit. Read on.
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
In reality, we have one rather small medical debt, no other consumer debt, a lower mortgage, and we finally hit our three-month survival budget emergency fund.
Yes, having about $30,000 tomorrow to throw at what I see as potential problems would supposedly fix them. But we are okay without it. I can overcome a scarcity mindset by reminding myself of all that we have.
I have to remind myself just how good of a position we’re in when I feel that hair-trigger response to start job hunting from time to time. By reminding myself how lucky and blessed we are, I’m able to calm down and think about things more rationally.
This is where the idea of keeping a gratitude journal might come in really handy. I haven’t done it yet but definitely see the value. You can find several gratitude journal prompts on Pinterest to get you started.
COME UP WITH AN ACTIONABLE PLAN TO HELP ALLEVIATE THE SITUATION IF NEEDED
If, after you’ve counted your blessings and reevaluated the situation it turns out that there is indeed a problem, now is the time to sit down and come up with a plan.
This could look vastly different and is dependent on just what is driving your scarcity mindset. If you look in your pantry and think you’ll starve, write out an inventory of what you have. Build meals around it.
Make a plan to EAT IT DOWN before it expires. Revisit your emergency fund. How many months will it cover? Are there any expenses you can cut that will enable you to either increase your emergency fund?
Maybe you need a legitimate emergency plan and do not have an emergency kit prepared. Would getting one in place ease your concerns some?
If you need to revisit what goes into one, check out Preparation Vs Panic: A Minimalist’s Take. You’ll find recommended emergency kit items as well as useful links there.
OVERCOME A SCARCITY MINDSET AND ADOPT AN ABUNDANCE MINDSET
This is the goal. If you find yourself in a scarcity mindset you want to move into an abundance mindset. Steven Covey is credited with coining the abundance mindset in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Basically, it’s a much more positive outlook and centers around the idea that there’s enough out there for everybody. This definitely a more pleasant alternative to thinking that you’ll never have enough.
Follow these steps, educate yourself, and form an actionable plan (in our case I don’t necessarily need a plan because what we’re doing now is working ), and keep repeating the steps until you change your mindset.
You can’t feel like you have enough if you truly don’t have enough, so please don’t think I’m ignoring that fact. If you realize you do not have enough or are looking at that being your reality very soon, action is very much needed.
That action may include additional/new employment, house hacking… every situation is different. But it also may be as simple as adjusting your budget so that you can save more money each month and build your emergency fund to AT LEAST three to six months of expenses.
You may even want to challenge yourself to let go of the scarcity mindset by buying fewer groceries over the next month and (somewhat) eating down your pantry. That food won’t last forever. Don’t let it go to waste on just in case.
You’ll save money in that month on your grocery budget and reshape your mindset by allowing yourself to eat down the older food. Make sure you allow money over the next few months to restock.
This approach too is an ongoing process; you need to have some non-perishables/longer shelf life food on hand, but it also does no good if it expires or isn’t properly stored.
In other words, it’s a balance that may take time to find. That balance may include seeking outside help working through past trauma as part of your actionable plan.
OVERCOMING A SCARCITY MINDSET AND MOVING ON
These recommendations are more of a jumping-off point. What your process looks like will largely depend on what your past experiences are and what your present situation is.
Hopefully, you are in a secure enough, for now, position to put these steps to work and overcome your scarcity mindset and move towards an abundance mindset.
These are the little tricks I use on a fairly regular basis to snap me out of my scarcity mindset. I hope they help you too.
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I will be back with a new YouTube video Thursday as well as a new blog post on Friday! Until then, stay frugal my friends!