Feeling Stuck? Paradigm Shift Your Way Through Tough Spots.

Feeling Stuck Paradigm Shift Your Way Through Tough Spots

Photo courtesy of Philip Male

Today I’m excited to share an idea from my friend Patrick McGinty. I met Patrick at a conference in May and we bonded over our experience as new dads and what’s been a recent leap into the world of financial planning for both of us. He also told me a story about a simple shift in mindset that totally changed the quality of work he did for clients, and I thought it was cool enough that I asked him to write it up so I could share it here.

No matter what it is you’re trying to improve in your life, there’s a really powerful lesson here that can help you do it.

Take it away Patrick!


What if the reason you feel stuck isn’t because of your boss, or the perceived lack of opportunities – what if you feel stuck because you’re seeing it all wrong?

I recently made a discovery: a change in perspective is more effective than a change in behavior. However, our culture emphasizes the exact opposite – action and immediate results: “Don’t just stand there, Do something!” But real, lasting change comes from more than doing something differently. It requires a change in worldview.

A paradigm shift.

When I first started my current job, I felt like I had found a truly great opportunity. Wanting to please my bosses and work my way up, I quickly signed up for the education coursework required for CFP® certification, and 16 months later I walked away from the brutal two day exam with passing marks.

Putting in extra hours, improving my attention to detail, and focusing on doing things differently, I saw improvement in my work, but I still felt something was lacking.

Where to go next?

After completing the education requirement, I didn’t know where to go next. Completing the rest of the requirements for CFP® certification was hard work, but it was a continuation of the simple and straightforward learning process that had taken me through my formal education.

But becoming an excellent financial advisor, what does that take? I didn’t know. I was starting to wonder if I could make it. The gap between associate and advisor had never seemed wider.

I felt stuck.

I cared about my clients, but saw them as just a part of my job, which was to provide financial planning analysis and plan preparation as part of a team. Clients were people, yes, but in the push to get things done they subconsciously became numbers – investment assets, cash flow, taxes, and all the other “countable” things they brought to the relationship.

Then something happened.

My boss gave a passionate speech about the importance of taking personal responsibility and to “own the client” as if I were already the advisor. I realized that I had it all wrong. I was never looking at my clients the way an advisor would – seeking to truly understand the client’s concerns and look deeper for meaningful solutions.

The shift

Everything changed. I began to care for my clients more profoundly than before. I wanted to fight for them and make sure their concerns were prioritized. Why should I wait for someone to give me a promotion or a new title when I could be in the role I want right now?

I paradigm shifted.

Within a few months of my paradigm shift, my clients began to notice. They could see I was genuinely interested in their needs and our relationship strengthened.

My boss saw it too and flat-out told me, “Patrick, I don’t know what happened, but I’ve noticed you’re really taking personal responsibility for your clients and making sure they are well taken care of.” I must admit I was a little shocked! I didn’t feel like I had done anything that differently, but I learned that seeing things in a new light made all the difference.

So try changing your perspective

Take personal ownership of yourself and what you do. You always have a choice, even when you feel truly stuck. Maybe if you can see your situation with fresh eyes, you’ll realize you’re not stuck at all.

If this seems impossible to do through introspection alone, here’s a cheat: find someone who you want to imitate and have them open your eyes to see the world the way they do. Suddenly you’ll realize there is a whole new world you haven’t been seeing and the excitement you thought was lost forever returns.

You don’t have to wait. Take the perspective of who and what you want to become, and be that person today.

Patrick McGinty is a fee-only financial planner at Briaud Financial Advisors in College Station, Texas. He spent most of his life in Japan and is passionate about eliminating financial stress. He serves as project coordinator for NAPFA Genesis, is father to one – soon to be two – sons, and loves singing bass in choir.

Start building a better financial future with the resource I wish I had when I was starting my family. It’s free!

6 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • Ben @ The Wealth Gospel August 7, 2014

    Great thought! I’ve had to do that time and time again since graduating college. Things haven’t worked out as planned and we would be up to our eyeballs in debt if I didn’t paradigm shift. I changed my perspective from waiting for some company to give me a job to starting my blog and accumulating freelancing clients. I still don’t have a great salary at my job, but I make enough on the side where I’m making more than I would if I had gotten the job I wanted right out of the gate.

    • Matt Becker August 7, 2014

      It’s amazing how much something small like starting a blog can change things, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s just a matter of taking control of something and seeing where that leads you. Nice work building up the freelancing business!

  • Money Beagle August 7, 2014

    Very good point. I’m in a similar situation right now. My boss told me that if I want the position that’s next up the ladder, the best thing to do is act like I already have that position. Obviously I can’t go around bossing people around that I currently have no authority over, but it’s about facing things and setting goals as if the job were already mine. That has definitely tailored my approach in several areas.

    • Matt Becker August 7, 2014

      Very cool! It’s almost a “fake it till you make it” type mentality, except that you’re genuinely trying to do the work of someone in a higher position. Advancing in any part of life is about taking ownership of your position, and this is no different.

  • Don @ Breath of Optimism August 11, 2014

    I am a firm believer in your perspective dictating your life. If you have the mindset and belief that you are successful, you will start working harder and will experience more success. Likewise, if you are always negative, putting yourself down, you won’t be motivated to push yourself through tough times and will find yourself just meandering along in life.

    The more you believe in yourself the more success you will experience in life.

    • Matt Becker August 12, 2014

      I couldn’t agree more. I do think there are situations where mindset alone isn’t enough, but I think it’s next to impossible to succeed without a positive mindset.

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