Let’s chat about scarcity mindsets.
It’s worse than an elephant in the room because it’s invisible.
Most of the population operates from a place of scarcity— which is the reason for the gap between the rich and the poor. It’s a problem deeply rooted in socioeconomic history and we don’t even realize we’re caught in it.
Scarcity is the retrograde direction to growth a.k.a. abundance.
We hear about “growth mindset” …. and the scarcity mindset is the opposite.
Bringing things to awareness is always the first step to fixing anything. Once you are aware of something, your brain can start to come up with solutions.
So let’s begin…
Where does the scarcity mindset come from?
Scarcity means lack.
It is a perpetual feeling of not having enough— an unfulfilled need that usually stems from something you were missing in childhood such as a lack of security (money, food), your parents’ mindsets, your environment, or as you experience traumatic events in your life (eg. isolation during the pandemic).
Scarcity mindsets prevent you from reaching your true potential because you will always make decisions based on fear.
You can be born into wealth and still have a scarcity mindset of “never having enough” because it is an extremely powerful emotion that subconsciously drives all your thoughts and behavior.
Signs You Have a Scarcity Mindset:
- You’re a pessimist.
- You have a fixed mindset
- You think the world is against you.
- You don’t take responsibility when bad things happen. Instead, you blame everyone but yourself.
- When somebody is more successful than you, you feel like you’re a failure or you feel left behind.
- You hoard your success under the guise of ‘being humble’ because you are afraid of people seeing you fail.
- When you lay low to avoid criticism— you are laying low to avoid attention in case you fail. This will only hold you back.
- You are scared of other people around you succeeding because they will be ahead of you.
- You don’t want anyone around you to succeed.
- You hoard wealth.
- You take but you don’t give.
- You see everything as a competition.
- You say yes to opportunities you know are not right for you because you are afraid of missing out.
- You go out of your way pleasing people.
Signs you have an Abundant Mindset:
- You are an optimist.
- You have a growth mindset
- Instead of competition, you focus on collaboration.
- You embody the paradigm that there is enough money in the world for everyone thus you want everyone to do better.
- You don’t hoard your wisdom and teach others what you know because you understand that in order for you to be happy and successful, everyone around you has to be the same.
- You see failure and mistakes as an opportunity for growth.
- You are not afraid of failing.
- You don’t care about what other people think about you.
- You want everyone around you to succeed.
You Can Use Scarcity To Your Advantage
Successful companies are successful because they have inspiring leaders with growth mindsets. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, wrote a letter notifying employees of a slowdown in hiring.
Now, you can take the news of an inevitable recession either way:
- With fear
- As an opportunity.
Something I cherish about our culture is that we’ve never viewed these types of challenges as obstacles. Instead, we’ve seen them as opportunities to deepen our focus and invest for the long term. – Sundar Pichai
Learn To Let Scarcity And Fear Light A Fire In You
Scarcity is a good thing.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet (Google), wrote: scarcity breeds clarity.
It prevents us from having too much of anything so we don’t get complacent.
What’s a life without limits? I’ve had periods in my life where I literally got everything I wanted and I was bored. I took time off my decade-long career in my late 20s and felt envious of my boyfriend going to work every day.
The uncomfortable truth is our society makes everything too easy.
We are getting weak as a species because we’re too comfortable. We can literally press a few buttons on our phones and get anything we want to be delivered straight to our door within an hour.
This is dangerous because it breeds instant gratification.
People no longer have to work hard to get anything.
It promotes lazy mindsets and dependence.
People who don’t have resilience are the ones who are the most comfortable and are going to suffer the most when times get hard.
Layoffs are always going to happen. We can teach ourselves to take advantage of the situation to better our lives rather than let fear and anxiety of an unknown future take hold.
How to Use Scarcity To Your Advantage:
I know I am going to trigger or offend people writing this, after all, there are over 7 billion people in the world with different upbringings, experiences, and mindsets.
I’m not afraid to speak from my experiences and life lessons because I always listen openly to other perspectives, striving to understand— and learn.
I understand there are unfortunate events, poverty cycles, mental health issues, and inequality that is deeply-routed in our socioeconomic history and hard to solve but for the sake of this column, let’s talk about uncomfortable truths.
There’s a privileged population who plays “victim”.
These types of people stay “poor” because ‘playing victim’ is a scarcity mindset. They blame the rich yet for everything and don’t do anything drastically different to change their lives. They complain about a lack of jobs but are not willing to learn new skills or start from the bottom. They consume and don’t create. They complain about governments but don’t vote. They complain about problems but never search for solutions.
Now stick with me for a bit…
Successful people reframe situations all the time and if you don’t embody this mindset now, it’s never too late to rewire your mind.
CHANGE TAKES TIME.
That’s also what those with a scarcity mindset cannot grasp. Their minds aren’t expansive enough to see far into the future, instead, they are too focused on the ‘now’.
But with time and persistence, anything is possible.
Why Scarcity Can Be A Good Thing:
- Scarcity can force you into coming up with creative solutions to problems.
- Some people perform better under pressure. If there is not enough time, scarcity will kick you into high gear so you reach the finish line.
- Scarcity forces you to analyze and restructure your life.
For example during the pandemic, many of us got rid of the fluff (eg. material things) and realized what was important (family, health, and time).
You win by overcoming your scarcity mindset.
Imagine a world where everyone saw loss, failure, and mistakes as an opportunity to do better.
Imagine if we can reverse the power of lack and use that as a motivator to come up with even better creative solutions.
Don’t Be Afraid To Hit Rock Bottom
Sometimes that may be what you need to kick you into high gear.
We hear stories of moms lifting cars to save their babies.
The most inspiring stories I’ve heard were from those who hit rock bottom and rebuilt their life from ground zero.
They had no choice.
It was life or death.
That’s when our mind kicks into high gear, fills with adrenaline, and focuses to find ways to survive.
We didn’t evolve as a species to the top of the food chain because we were idiots. Our brains are a brilliant work of evolution.
Understand this to harness its power and design the life you’ve dreamed of.
How to Cultivate An Abundance Mindset
Note, I did not come from a “wealthy, privileged” background and I grew up with a scarcity mindset that still likes to declare its annoying presence but I’m always aware of it.
I’ve been working on it for years, and I no longer let it push me around.
I learned how detrimental it was when I was building businesses the past couple of years being surrounded by entrepreneurs and other “privileged” friends whose parents owned businesses.
They grew up with this mindset and I did not.
I had no entrepreneurial parents to learn from. I had to learn everything on my own— from my friends and mentors and not be scared to fail.
My life isn’t perfect. I have anxiety. I get frustrated with my partner. I have a hard time not working until I burn out. I try to do too much. I have mood swings.
But overall, I am happy, live comfortably, and have time freedom because, throughout my entire adult life, I stayed focused on my passions, stayed true to myself, and never worked “for money.”
Because of that, I always made money, and the strange thing was that opportunities always seem to come when I needed them. It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns— a ton of hard work and facing fears but this mindset gets easier over time.
Here are some of my lessons on cultivating an abundance mindset:
- Focus on CREATION instead of LACK. Not doing the Grouse Grind to save you the $20 lift pass to go down? Hrm. I’d rather find a way to make $20… and I know I will.
- Delayed gratification versus instant gratification. An annual pass for the Grouse Grind is $229— I would rather pay that upfront knowing I am going to withhold my personal standards and commit to making the most out of it. I may not see results today, but I know what I’m going to get in return in the long run: happiness, health, and prosperity.
- Repeat after me: “you make money by spending money” (not hoarding). If something truly brings you joy (like that $5 latte at your favorite coffee shop), enjoy it and find a way to make an extra $150/month. Saving a few bucks here and there isn’t going to significantly increase your income especially if you aren’t happy. Unhappy people don’t produce good results.
- Level up your skills. No time? Too bad no one has time for your excuses! I’m sure you have time to read 5 pages a day, listen to 15 minutes of an audiobook during a walk after dinner (which also brings down your blood sugar!), or spend 30 minutes on an online course. Your priorities are your decision. How bad do you want it?
- Strive to create. The majority of people only consume— content… food… things— consuming someone else’s content (aka giving them profit). They don’t actually put things out in the world. Create content, write stories, display your artwork, tell people your ideas, and build businesses. When you create, you may be giving people joy which may give you nice profits. You don’t need to build a million-dollar business and have tens of thousands of followers— you just have to find your niche.
- Become an interesting person. Read more so you have more things to talk about. Learn new skills or facts. Step out of your comfort zone and live an interesting life so you have stories to tell. Do things most people won’t do. Interesting people attract interesting people. Which means more opportunities and experiences.
- Ruthlessly audit your environment including people and content. Scarcity breeds scarcity. You may have friends who live in scarcity and bless their soul, but limit time with them non-judgmentally, understanding we are all on our own journeys. You may inspire them to change over time but it’s their choice, not yours. Luckily, your environment is your choice!
- Remove all negativity and anything that drains you. Surround yourself with positive, optimistic like-minded people. Include those who are vastly different from you to expand your mind so you don’t get trapped in a prison that is your comfort zone.
- Surround yourself with people who will call you out. Real friends want you to do better. They will not suck up to you if you are a miserable human being and allow you to stay that way.
- Call yourself out. Question every thought and feeling that comes from you. Be curious and ask yourself where these behaviors could be coming from.
- Learn how to accept criticism. If you plan to generate substantial success, people will criticize you because our scarcity-filled monkey minds get scared when others get ahead. You have to be brave enough to endure it. No one wants to be left behind. We only criticize when we are living in fear (or scarcity). Criticism is good because it pushes you forward. That means you have an abundance mindset.
- Make self-reflection a daily consistent routine. Journal. Meditate. Talk to the therapist. Have deep conversations with friends. Knowing yourself keeps you grounded so you stay true to yourself and aligned with your goals.
- Be patient and have self-compassion. Change takes time because it is the practice of rewiring your neural circuits to see the world in a different way. To achieve this, you have to be consistent with forming these new habits and mindsets.
- Ask yourself: how bad do I want it??!! Do you want to be the same old miserable self for the rest of your life? Or are you ready to take control of your life?