The Importance of Female Financial WellbeingApril 10, 2018
I’ve been described many times by people who know me well as resilient. I expect it’s meant as a compliment and of course I accept it as that. After all, the definition of resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and stress. Toughness is another way of describing resilience or the ability to successfully rise from the ashes and come back stronger than ever. It’s phoenix-like and brings visions of durability and determination.
I see resilience as a gritty thing. It’s a teeth clenched, steely-determined, finger-tip gripping, push through to the end kind of word. And it’s what many of us aspire to – it’s what we want for our lives, for our finances, for our children. The ability to bounce back. The ability to be resilient.
Personally, I don’t ever want resilience to be my end game.
I’m incredibly happy to have the qualities of resilience: toughness, determination, durability. But I don’t want to simply be recovering from aftershocks in life. Instead, I think resilience needs to be something we pass through or perhaps have in our toolkit on our way to the end game of wellness.
After all, if I asked you, when it comes to your health, do you want to be resilient or do you want to have wellness I’m sure you’d say both.
But we don’t aim for resilience. Instead we aim for wellness.
Resilience is something we draw upon when we’re going through illness or suffering but it’s not somewhere we want to live. Rather, wellness or the healthy balance of mind, body and spirit which results in an overall feeling of well-being is more likely to be our goal. To live in harmony, to be vibrant and able to live our lives fully and completely. To be strong, fit, flexible and dynamic.
When it comes to our finances and our businesses we’re often told to be resilient. Which is a good thing because we want to be able to weather storms. But is simply weathering storms truly living?
That’s why I believe when it comes to our finances, our businesses (let’s be honest, all of our lives) we should be aiming for wellness. To not simply grit our teeth and bear our financial situation or wait for prince charming, a fairy godmother or a fantasy lotto ticket to come rescue us but instead to become the author of our own financial story.
A story we’re actually excited about. A story which not only protects us but allows us to live out our goals and aspirations. The same goes for our businesses.
We need to embrace business wellness not simply resilience. To not simply resolve to sit down and look at our numbers like we’re ingesting brussel sprouts, but rather to embrace all parts of business ownership with the understanding that when we do, we’ll not only weather the storms but we’ll also be able to enjoy the sunshine.
While I’ve always been an advocate of financial wellness, up to now it’s been something I’ve thought was an obvious thing to aim for. Up to now this was purely based on gut. But I was pleasantly surprised to see this was one of the findings from research conducted in the UK recently. At the Good Shepherd Microfinance Resilient Women Summit last year, Professor Elaine Kempson, an Emeritus Professor at the University of Bristol presented her research which concluded that policy should concentrate on financial resilience as well as the end goal of financial wellness. Her research found that women’s financial education and financial capability programs particularly needed to have financial well being as their primary goal.
Dr Kempson’s research showed these programs particularly need to focus on modifying behaviour, not simply imparting knowledge and developing skills which will only have a very limited effect on the financial wellbeing of adults. Of course, she also highlighted we need to recognise that lower incomes and other environmental factors can have a much bigger effect. Women can’t achieve financial wellbeing against the odds however capable they are. But the end game once we push through resilience should be to open the door of wellness.
Interestingly, her research also discovered that budgets don’t work, which she’s going back to look at further this year. I think this is an obvious finding. After all, we know that diets don’t work long term. Instead, we need to discover great life long habits and a better relationship with food. So why would we think it’s any different with our finances? When something is restricted we immediately want more of it so it makes sense that the same is true of budgets and money. Budgeting falls under financial resilience. It’s restrictive but sometimes it’s a necessary first step. Instead, mindful spending and becoming a conscious consumer who lives according to their values, goals and healthy money messages falls firmly instead under financial wellness. Will you still track your spending? Sure but you may not need a restrictive budget because you have your eyes on the goal of wellness and are tracking your spending mindfully.
If better money management or financial resilience was a goal this year but you’re already struggling this is a great message to convert to instead. Yes, financial resilience is important. We need to have a certain measure of toughness, grit, gumption and the ability to push through. But we don’t want to sit down and dwell amongst resilience but rather head towards the far sunnier shores of financial, business and let’s face it, whole of life wellness. Now that seems like a 2017 goal worth aiming for.