x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

On the money: first find your feet and the rest will just follow

Nima Abu Wardeh urges readers to forget their financial phobias and build solid foundations instead.

Illustration by Gary Clement for The National
Illustration by Gary Clement for The National
"Finding your voice" is a multimillion-dollar industry that evolves around people discovering their "authentic' self" - the idea being that we have each been born with greatness within us, but we get lost along the way.

Instead of finding my voice, I was thinking how super it would be to find my feet.

This came to me as I pounded the asphalt around the Dubai Autodrome a week ago. My first-ever run was a baptism of rainbows and glory at the "happiest five kilometres in the world" - the Colour Run - and it got me thinking: If people spent as much time and effort finding their feet as they did lamenting their lost voice, life would be very different.

By finding your feet I mean being grounded, having a stable, solid base from which to build the rest of you, and being connected to the whole of you and what's around you.

Go on, stand up, and "feel" your feet - how they connect to the Earth, how they support you, how they connect to the rest of you. A foot problem can fast lead to a back problem and more. Simply put, feet equal foundation.

This isn't some airy-fairy new age way of approaching life - quite the opposite. I'm talking about going back to basics: building a great foundation that will allow you to go off and do the things you really want and to live a fulfilled life.

As I was focusing on my feet last Saturday, feeling how they struck the ground, which bit made contact first, how the energy travelled up and along the rest of my body, I found that I was fine running, that in fact it felt good the more distance I covered, and that the niggling tightness in various bits of me just loosened up, and I enjoyed the experience.

This was a revelation.

You see, I have always had a mild phobia of running. I just could not imagine what it could be like to have to run a specific distance - I had never done it before, I had no experience to compare it with and I could not relate to how it would make me feel. I just "knew" that it would be bad, very bad, and that my body would not be happy.

And so, this is what I learnt: that if I land right, the rest will follow. So having a solid, safe foundation is key.

Fear of or anxiety about the unknown can be crippling. Fear can be based on nothing other than fear itself. Predetermined conclusions, a result of predictions, projections and emotion, not fact, do not help.

I can do it. I feel immensely better for it. This is exactly what many people are wanting to do, or are just realising that they need to take control of their financial life and build a strong foundation.

They fear the unknown, they're not able to relate to living on less and doing without. Many people end up justifying and behaving their way out of making changes that are needed, like cutting back, budgeting, doing without, living on less - they all seem to carry negative connotations and are emotionally loaded.

But just as I got through the run, and still feel so much better for it, I believe we can all get through our financial phobias and will feel on top of the world, or at least our world, when we've built our financial foundation.

As the year comes to an end, how about we make a deliberate decision to look at our foundation? Nurture it, build it, make it solid and strong. Instead of saying, and believing, that you cannot do it, repeat after me: I can do it. And I will do it.

Don't do what I did and simply ignore the run-up to the race. I did zero preparation, and just showed up for it on the day.

We're talking about your life here: show up, get better at your budgeting and start living below your means.

Build up your foundation for life and trust me, you will feel so much better for it. Maybe not at the time, but definitely for the rest of your life.

The added bonus is that once you have your financial foundations sorted, your life will evolve, you will find both your voice and the greatness within you.

Nima Abu Wardeh is the founder of the personal finance website www.cashy.me. You can contact her at nima@cashy.me