My father was a gambler. He played the “ponies.” While other kids had dads who took them to the zoo on those divorced weekends, my dad packed my sister and I in the car with a small box of Colonel Sander’s chicken. Together we made the long trek from Los Angeles to Tijuana for a weekend at the races.
I loved the horses. I loved the smell of the fresh track on an early morning. I loved the freedom that my sister and I enjoyed as we jolted across the cluttered pavement of the racing concourse, lost amidst the crowd, searching and searching for that one winning ticket that someone else had failed to claim.
And my dad? Somewhere in the stands studying the Daily Racing Form in preparation for the next big race that promised to change our lives forever.
If days at the races were exciting, Saturday nights were even better. The streets were alive with loud music, neon lights, and the sights and sounds of scantily clad women beckoning my dad to enter a nearby bar overflowing with the stench of stale bear and whiskey.
By today’s standards, a family weekend with Anthony would amount to child endangerment and a custody battle, no doubt. Still, it was what I knew. If the winnings were good, my dad would hand us a stack of silver dollars upon our return to the motel later that night. I can still hear the clink of silver clashing up against my small hand as my sister and I played the money like a magical slinky. This silver, we imagined, could take us anywhere we wanted to go. It was the sound of freedom.
As a small child, I loved everything about those weekends, but, mostly, I just loved being with my dad. I learned that time is precious with those we love and money comes and goes. Winning is easy, except when it’s not.
I also learned that when I needed that extra dollar for something at school, all I had to do was write my dad a note. The money would somehow appear on my dresser—that is, if he were around, available, and inebriated.
Otherwise, I was on my own.
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Each of us has some crazy childhood story, whether it be good or bad, that translates into our current experience of time and money. The challenge is for us to unravel these storylines so that we can make appropriate choices.
These memories that rise up tell us a lot about who we are. If we pay close attention to the context of the story, we can come to some understanding of our relationship with time and money. Sometimes it’s a hard pill to swallow, to realize and accept that we have developed habits that aren’t necessarily supporting our best life.
We make meaning from our storylines. It’s how we come to make sense of the world around us.
For example, my memories of my dad center around a man who loved his children, as best he knew how, but that love was based on convenience. He invested his time and money in us when it was easy to do so, and, unfortunately, it was rarely often enough.
My father’s failure to invest in his children culminated in a belief that I wasn’t worthy enough of not only my dad’s time and money. I wasn’t worthy of his love. This sense of scarcity would plague me for most of my life, and, if I’m honest, can still rise up to choke me in the early morning hours if I’m not ever watchful.
If every one of us has a past storyline that is impacting our daily time/money choices, the question is, what’s yours? More importantly, are your stories working for or against your overall sense of success and well-being?
Allow me to offer you two possible approaches that might help you discover the answer to these odd but important questions:
Discover the Unconscious Storylines
There’s a very good chance that unless you grew up under very dire circumstances, you have little conscious awareness about your early childhood stories in relation to time and money. We just don’t think about this stuff.
It’s not necessary to dredge up a lot of memories that may or may not serve you in present time, but I do suggest that it’s worth your time to see what primary memories surface.
For example, what did you learn about time from those you loved? Was it a precious commodity or squandered? Was your family always late or rigidly on schedule?
These same types of questions can be applied to money. The answers will point you to your current experience, and depending on the nature of your stories, may even lead you to some alternative choices or a new and better way of life. The point is to examine any potential for fear or scarcity that may be holding you captive.
And, if you’re one of the lucky ones who had an abundant experience of time and money, good for you! How might you leverage that experience and stand as an interruption for those who live otherwise?
Reflective Question #1:
Think back to your earliest childhood memories. What is the craziest story you can remember about time or money? What is the impact of that story on you now?
Own Your Toughest Losses and Applaud Your Wins
In my practice, one of the things that continues to amaze me the most is how often and repeatedly people continue to do the same things expecting different results. If you truly want to know where you stand in relation to time and money, examine your history over the past 5-10 years and ask yourself, what are the biggest mistakes I’ve made along the way? What have been the greatest wins?
Isn’t it obvious that we want to repeat the good habits and learn to let go of the rest? Still, our human nature seems to somehow dictate otherwise. A cycle of scarcity is hard to break for the simple reason that what we embody as a way of life in our early years can often dictate our way of being in the now.
Part of my job as an integral coach is to help people identify and break cycles that no longer serve them. Naming and owning thoughts and behaviors is one step in the right direction, but we must also exercise self-compassion.
Hone in on your losses and wins. Name the experience without judgement and own the results. If the results were in your favor and benefited those you love and care about, repeat those behaviors. If they did not serve you well, vow to break the cycle and seek help or council when you need it. We are often blind to our own self-inflicted calamity, and there is nothing shameful about having an objective eye on the scene.
Reflective Question #2:
When you reflect on the toughest losses in your adult years, what did you come to believe about yourself as a result of those losses?
Sometimes we trip into a chaotic period in our life where time and money seem to elude us. We just can’t seem to get ahead of the train. It happens. The point is to know where you’ve been and what values you hold dear so that you can get back on track again. If you have good habits when it comes to your use of time and money, you have a far better chance of restoring equilibrium in your daily life.
Don’t make the mistake of confusing a series of unfortunate events as your predestined reality. You don’t have to be defined by your past. You can learn to be a better steward of your resources, and in doing so, transform your experience of life.
One final question:
When you mull over your responses to questions 1 and 2, what do you need to release from your prior experiences in order to be your highest self in the here-and-now?
Name it. Own it. Be the change.
If you want to learn more about how your own crazy story may be impacting your capacity for success, stay tuned for my latest book, The Pursuit of Time and Money: Step Into Radical Abundance (Summer, 2017 release date).