Step 4 of the 12 step program prompts us to take “a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
Many years ago, a boss gave me a “SWOT” (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) style performance review. It was the first time I’d ever experienced this format and I suspect someone from HR told him to do it this way.
Side note: I have come a long way but I still don’t accept criticism well.
This format (the SWOT) softened the edges of the performance review,
making the critique more palatable. A spoonful of sugar and all that.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way and since I’m in the business of giving people financial advice, I often include a SWOT analysis in the financial plan to remind my clients what they’re already doing well and nurture hope for their financial future.
Since we’re using the steps to overcome an addiction to poor money habits and to improve the peace and abundance measures in our financial lives, let me shine some light on how to work through this step (with the help, as always, from my I HATE Budgeting (But I Like Having Money) support group participants).
- Knowing yourself is your best tool. If you’re trying to simply replicate the actions of others, you will undoubtedly become frustrated. You have to find what works for you because only you know the back story.
- Strength is recognized when we feel content, aware, unafraid.
- Weaknesses can be due to a lack of boundaries; the inability to say “NO.”
- Turn your weaknesses into strengths. One member, Annette, explained that she is disorganized by nature but has created healthy habits to keep herself from being overwhelmed by clutter. Most people assume she’s just organized.
- Opportunities abound but it’s important you recognize when you need help. Harkening back to Step 2: Acknowledge a Higher Power and Ask for Help, if you are feeling overwhelmed, ashamed, burdened and afraid, you probably don’t have enough energy left over for finding solutions! Join a support group, find a counselor, or simply talk to a friend you trust.
- Threats: Take some time to put certain measures in place to safeguard your financial foundations before life gets out of control (and it will). One idea that was shared is setting up an automatic credit card minimum payment with your bank.
From Symmetry Counseling’s blog post,” The Power of a Personal Inventory: “Without a continuous practice of self-reflection, life becomes an unconscious pattern of re-enacting childhood trauma, misdirected anger, and harmful bias. We cannot change what we do not acknowledge..”
The Church of Jesus Christ for Latter-Day Saints’ blog Addiction Recovery Program posts about Step 4: Truth: “One way to do an inventory is to list memories of people; institutions or organizations; principles, ideas, or beliefs; and events, situations, or circumstances that trigger positive and negative feelings (including sadness, regret, anger, resentment, fear, bitterness)…As you do your inventory, look beyond your past behaviors and examine the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that led to your behavior… examine all your tendencies toward fear, pride, resentment, anger, self-will, and self-pity…”
Serenity Matters offers another angle to view your personal inventory by looking at what seems out of balance, what represents a source of conflict. “Bringing the imbalances out of hiding or denial and into conscious awareness is enlightening… The entire process assists the conscious mind to get involved, which is important because the conscious mind is the gatekeeper to change.”
Wishing you a peaceful and powerful experience of self-relection for this important step in your financial well-being. ~Amy Jo