Most of us set financial goals at the start of the year with the best intent. The great news is that there are strategies we can start applying today that will make us successful. To achieve our financial goals, we will need to learn some new money habits and continue the good ones we already have.
Recently, I started thinking of ways to achieve all-round health in my finances. These two concepts spoke to me: Financial wellness which is the process of learning how to successfully manage financial expenses and Financial Well-being which is having financial security and financial freedom of choice, in the present and the future.
In this blog post, we will explore ten techniques you can apply to achieve financial freedom and health.
#1: Know your financial status
Having clarity on your overall financial status will allow you to identify actions that you need to take. Write down your income, expenses, debts, financial commitments, and savings. Transparency in your finances will bring more calmness than when you hide from your status.
#2: Create a financial plan
Setting concrete financial goals and planning action may sound foreign to you. However, as with anything we want to be successful in, we need to set goals that we can work towards and track our progress. Explore Six steps to build your Financial Plan from my previous post.
#3: Make extra money
Having additional sources of income helps us become financially independent. I grew up around women who always had a side hustle and learned from them. Exploring side hustles provides you with opportunities to make some extra money and simultaneously chase your passions. Start small and grow your additional income consistently.
#4: Understand your taxes
It's currently tax season in this part of the world. Our relationship with taxes is mostly one of confusion and ignoring its existence. Making sure you are paying the right taxes and legally saving taxes will improve the way you view taxes. Taxes are a constant part of our lives and one we can master if we put some time into learning about it.
#5: Save your money
Reframing the way you think about savings will help it become a normal part of your life. What you do by saving is, putting money aside regularly to achieve your bigger financial goals. Learn some practical tips from my previous blog post - How to grow your Savings.
#6: Invest in long-term options
Once you start saving consistently, it's time to explore ways to grow your money. Investing in a house, stock market or other business ventures are a few ways to start making your money work for you. Available resources can help you make the right investment choice for you. Start investing as soon as you can. Sometimes I wish I started investing earlier. I began investing in 2017 and have been learning valuable lessons ever since.
#7: Get financial advice
We typically find it easy to go to a doctor when we have a health issue. Think about it this way, seeking financial advice from trusted sources is a way to make sure you are financially healthy. Ask questions and act on the great advice you get.
#8: Talk about money
Especially if your upbringing was like mine, talking about money was not normal. One of the biggest lessons I've learned is the power of talking about money with your partner, family and co-workers as openly as possible.
#9: Learn about finances
Being financially literate is an essential foundation for success. Read great books, listen to financial podcasts, attend trainings and use free resources. Gather all the knowledge you can on the financial areas you want to get better at.
#10: Celebrate your financial successes
While you are working towards achieving your financial goals, remember to celebrate your wins. Small, medium and big accomplishments deserve to be honored. The positive vibes you feel will motivate you for the future.
Call to Action
What are you committed to doing differently to achieve financial wellness this year?
A few months ago, the 10-year challenge was all over social media. The concept was about posting pictures of yourself ten years ago and where you are now. It was nice to see photos of people who participated in the 10-year challenge. The different approach that I would like to take is to go deeper and reflect on our journey over the past ten years. For me looking back at myself ten years ago brought back a lot of memories and changes that have happened in my life since then.
In this post, I'll take you on a reflection journey comparing my life in 2009 vs. 2019. A lot happens in 10 years. I'm very proud of the woman I am now and my journey so far. My story is definitely a glow-up experience.
Who was I in 2009?
Looking back ten years, I am not the same person I was back then. If I had to choose three words to characterize that phase in my life, they would be afraid, insecure and alone. When I look at my 2009 pictures, I can see that there was no sparkle in my eyes. It felt like I was always carrying a heavy load on my shoulders. Back then, I could never have imagined that I would be where I am today.
Where was I professionally?
2009 was the final year of my long college journey. I struggled very hard to finish my first degree. At this point in my life, I decided to give my all and complete all my classes as fast as I could. I had some internships that helped refine my view of the career I wanted to pursue - Project Management. The choices I made set me up for a great and successful career.
Where was I relationship-wise?
Thinking back, I had just come out of a toxic relationship at the end of 2008, and I felt even more alone. The lessons I learned about myself and what I want in a relationship have been monumental. However, it didn't stay that way for long; I got beauty for my ashes. It marked the beginning of my relationship with my special man. I can't believe it's been ten years of our journey together. Learning and growing through our long distance relationship set us up for happiness together.
Where was I mentally?
Mentally, this was not one of the strongest phases of my life. I felt very lonely, not because of my relationship status but feeling alone with my challenges and fear of the future. I always asked myself if I was ever going to be able to live the life I wanted for myself. The uncertainty made me worry a lot, and I found myself unable to enjoy my life.
Where was I financially?
Money worries were a big part of my life as a student in Germany. I worked multiple jobs while I studied full-time because I needed the income. As building my savings was a priority for me, I tried to save 25 to 50 Euros monthly. The discipline that I learned in this phase of my life definitely paid off. I am now a disciplined saver and have the opportunity to discover investing.
Where am I now?
Fast-forward to 2019, I am at peace and living my best life. Being able to say this is huge for me, after spending a lot of time worrying about my future. I can confidently say that everything worked out for my good. I am where I need to be in this phase of my journey, working towards my dreams, developing my career, surrounded by a great community and excited about my future.
What am I looking forward to over the next 10 years?
When I think of where I want to be in 2029, I have many ideas and dreams. In summary, I want to continue being my authentic self and living out my dreams. I am looking forward to learning and growing through my experiences. The thought of being able to get to places I never expected, excites me. Watch this space for more on my journey.
The greatest lessons I learned over the past ten years are:
Call to Action
Reflect on where you were 10 years ago. How have you grown over the next 10 years? What are some of the biggest lessons you learned?
MC's Journey 2009 vs. 2019
Continuing the Her Relocation series, with some of the lessons I learned working in Germany and now in the US. As I reflect, I realize that the countries I have lived and worked in have influenced my career in significant ways. My portfolio and skill set are very diverse. Which I'm now learning is one of my unique selling propositions.
Looking back, I appreciate the opportunity to have started my career in Germany and continued my journey in the US. The combination of all my experiences has helped me achieve great career success. In this blog post, I'll share some of the professional lessons I learned so far.
Lesson #1: Be culturally aware
My experience as an immigrant and working with people from diverse cultures prepared me to manage global projects. Learning from some of my negative experiences, I appreciate and respect diversity. Building inclusive teams where everyone feels valued is a priority for me.
Lesson #2: Gather knowledge and learn new skills
In Germany, I learned the value of setting a solid foundation with theoretical knowledge. Early in my career, I got a project management certification, and since then I have continued to keep my skills fresh. This has helped set me apart and prepare me for the big tasks I have worked on.
Lesson #3: Promote yourself
A valuable lesson I learned working in the US is that it is not enough to do great work - You need to talk about it. Initially, I struggled with talking about the great work I was doing. After observing my peers do an amazing job talking about their experiences, I started working on finding a way that worked for me. Honestly, I'm still learning and practicing self-promotion.
Lesson #4: Your relationship with your co-workers matters
We spend a significant amount of time with our co-workers. I learned the value of taking a proactive approach to building a relationship with my team when I moved to the US. Partly because I was a new member of the team. Spending time getting to know my team members on a more personal level helped me integrate into the team well.
Lesson #5: Move and re-invent yourself
Typically, in Germany people stay at a company for a very long time. Working in the US changed my perspective, it's ok to move around and re-invent yourself. I now see starting new jobs or changing roles as a normal part of my professional journey.
Lesson #6: Be organized and structured
Especially as a program manager, being very organized has many benefits. With everything that I juggle and manage concurrently, it is essential for me to be structured. I like to say I enjoy to bring structure to chaotic situations.
Lesson #7: Plan for flexibility
One of the most significant changes for me, when I moved to the US, was the need to adapt to changes very often. I was used to having some changes on the projects I led. However, I was not prepared for the level of flexibility I would need to accept and plan for in the US. Adaptability and agility were skills I needed to learn very quickly.
Lesson #8: Know your worth and ask for what you want
At the time when I moved to the US, I didn't feel empowered to voice my needs and ask for what I was worth. I learned valuable skills from observing others, reading books and learning how to think about myself more. The first lesson I learned was that if I don't know what I'm worth, I'll never ask for it or get what I deserve.
Lesson #9: Build your professional network/community
Since my move to the US in 2015, I have attended so many events and joined some great professional groups. Thinking back, I started questioning how I went through my career in Germany without building my network.
Lesson #10: Do good work and let your work speak for you
Doing great work is a lesson that I learned as a child. My skills were honed and refined in Germany. The quality of the work you do speaks on your behalf. I learned many valuable techniques for ensuring I did great work when I worked in Germany.
Lesson #11: Think big in your career
The concept of setting aspirational career goals was amplified in the US. Striving to do things and take steps that don't feel entirely logical was a valuable lesson I learned. Not limiting myself or being extremely logical about all of my career moves, is the only reason that I'm where I am today.
Lesson #12: Share your knowledge and expertise
Both Germany and the US have contributed to my passion for sharing my experience. I enjoy the different opportunities I have to share my knowledge and learn from others.
Call to Action
What countries have you worked in and what valuable career lessons have you learned? Please share with your community and me.
"Your personal brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room – remember that."– Chris Ducker
Personal branding has been a hot topic lately. In early 2016, I kicked off work on my personal brand. The need came from me living in a new country and having to re-introduce myself. I took a holistic approach to build my brand by covering my personal and professional brand as well. It included working on my online presence, offline activities, networking, joining groups and most importantly self-discovery.
Today, I'm writing from the perspective of someone who has tested a few personal branding strategies and is continuously learning. As a starting point, your journey will be different; these are some ideas that you could add to your list. In this blog post, I'll share top strategies I used and some tools I use to keep my brand fresh. Check out the "Great Resources" section at the end of the post for more tips to help you build your brand.
What is your personal brand/ personal branding?
Who needs to work on their personal brand?
You. Me. Everyone
Why you need a personal brand?
How to build your personal brand
Be clear on why you want to build your personal brand
As with everything we do and want to be successful at, we need to be clear on why we are working on it as well as the results we want. Building your brand takes work and requires a clear direction. When I started building my brand, my objective was to create a platform to build deeper connections, share my experiences and promote what I care about. Looking back over the three years that I've been developing my brand, I can confidently say that I have seen great results.
Tools for your Toolkit
Get to know yourself more
When I started writing this post, I reflected on the most valuable exercises I did with my life coach. Getting to know myself better was the first. Self-discovery has been a key pillar of my branding journey. For me, it all began with discovering my strengths through self-assessments. Being clear on what I'm good at, helped me frame my message when I talked about or presented myself. I also spent time getting clarity on what my values are and what I stand for. My journey to discovering myself has been very rewarding.
Tools for your Toolkit
Own your narrative and tell your story
One of the principles I heard that helped me understand the importance of my brand was "If you don't own your narrative and your story, others will own it for you." The realization that I am the best person to tell my story helped me take ownership and think about how I want to be seen or heard. Growing up in Nigeria, I was not taught the value of talking about yourself in a positive way when you present yourself to the world. After going through my learning journey, I can say that we all have unique experiences and a great story to tell.
Tools for your Toolkit
Share your knowledge and ideas that help you stand out
Your co-workers, potential teams or clients should know your expertise and what they can come to you for. Create content and showcase yourself as an expert in your field. It is very easy to start this. Be mindful of what you share as it represents you. One of the great benefits of having my blog is that I have a great way to introduce myself and what I care about. There are many ways to go about it; you can start with gathering insights on topics you care about and sharing on social media, supporting causes that you care about or sharing ideas with your community.
Tools for your Toolkit
Have a consistent message across all online and offline platforms
Does your online presence tell the same story as the one you share when you are meeting people in person? Your social media and professional platforms like LinkedIn should represent you the way you have chosen to present yourself. What you post, like, share and subscribe to, is a clear indication of where your heart is. Be intentional about what you put your name on, especially online. Imagine the great opportunity you have to associate yourself with good causes and things that help you grow.
Tools for your Toolkit
Keep learning and developing your brand
As you progress on your personal branding journey, take the opportunity to tweak and improve your presentation. Track what's working and what's not working to help define your path forward. I want to emphasize this point as it allows you to start with something small and keep expanding as you progress on your journey. Your brand is built one step at a time. This is the same approach I've been taking for the past three years.
Tools for your Toolkit
Build your community and join productive groups
Interestingly, it is in my nature to build a community and look for them. However, I never considered the importance of how my community influenced my brand and vice versa. Especially professionally and in my business, my affiliation with certain groups helped me build and grow my brand. While you search for communities, keep in mind that you want a community you can give to and gain knowledge from. Remember the people you surround yourself with are a reflection of who you are.
Tools for your Toolkit