Money is Symbolic
Money is symbolic.
Sure, it’s a store of value and a medium of exchange. But above all, it’s a symbol. It’s how people evaluate if they’re succeeding or failing.
What is a symbol? It’s a visible representation of something that’s invisible.
Think about it—can you see success? Not really. It’s an abstract idea.
But what do you see when you imagine a successful person? Cars, houses, clothes, and zeros in a bank account.
Those are the symbols of success. And make no mistake—money is the central symbol of success.
How do you feel when your bank looks full? Awesome! You get a quick rush, and your step’s just a touch lighter.
But what about when you’re in debt or when you can’t make ends meet? Not so great. You feel stressed and anxious, like you’re not good enough.
That’s because money is a visible representation of your success or failure. It’s a way to keep score.
You see that loaded bank account, and you think “Everything looks good! I’ve really got my act together.”
You see an empty bank account, and you think “What have I been doing? I’ve really messed up my finances.”
Here’s the sticking point—the symbolic nature of money is great for motivation. It’s terrible for guiding decisions.
Why? Because it can easily lead you to making moves that give you the appearance of wealth without being wealthy. You start buying things far beyond your budget to symbolize wealth you don’t actually have. It’s the fast-track to living paycheck-to-paycheck.
But as motivation? That’s where its power lies. Think about that bump you get when you see your net worth climb. Use that feeling as fuel to keep pushing when you hit roadblocks and obstacles.
So what does money mean to you? Is it a scorecard? A way to motivate yourself? Or something else entirely?
How you answer that question will determine whether money is a powerful tool or a dangerous weapon in your life.