Freedom from Fixed Ideas

Almost every client I’ve ever coached, including multi-millionaires, has been worried about money. Everyone’s after the magic that will pop abundance into their bank accounts. Often, that magic is hideously oversimplified, boiled down to ridiculous magical thinking.

On the other hand, everything I’ve observed in decades of coaching and observation tells me that there really is a process—subtle and far from obvious, but real—that draws wealth to some people, and almost seems to snatch it away from others.

I’ve spent enormous amounts of time pondering this, thinking of all the people I’ve coached, trying different processes myself. Recently, I realized that I’d formed a subconscious conclusion—one that surprised me. In my experience, two things combine to enable financial success. No, they are not family wealth and the ability to cook blue meth. They are freedom from fixed ideas and attention to inner guidance.

The first element is one very few of us ever try to develop. We’re told to believe a thousand things, but the value of releasing beliefs easily isn’t one of them. For about three centuries the Western economy has been dominated by jobs that require fixed, repetitive actions. A large number of these jobs, up to…um…all of them, are now vanishing. (For a great current analysis of the decline and fall of jobs, check out this article in The Atlantic: A World Without Work.)

The possible disappearance of all jobs isn’t bad news for those who are willing to fall back on the traits that made us such a successful species long before jobs were ever created: our ability to master unfamiliar environments and tasks by playing, fumbling, experimenting, and observing. Returning to the open mind-state that’s natural to all of us enables us to spot new opportunities when old ones disappear and create innovative solutions to unprecedented problems. And this is how one succeeds financially in a time of massive change.

Freedom from fixed ideas also opens our attention to a subtle but consistent source of guidance that seems to come from within. Think back on any major decision you’ve made, bad or good. Hold the memory of making the decision in your mind, paused like a frozen screen. Now, get very quiet and feel within yourself for a calm knowing that said either, “Yes! You go!” or “Um, no. Not so much, dear.” I used to think this kind of guidance was only available to the enlightened. But in working with thousands of clients, I’ve come to believe it’s always right there, nearer than near, whispering a calm truth. Find that voice. Follow it. You are guided.

If these instructions sound frustratingly nonspecific, it’s because I can’t know what your internal guidance will say. Only you can. Ask yourself, right now, how to succeed at anything you’re trying to accomplish. Then let go, get still, and allow. An idea may occur. It will be simple, straightforward, and clear. It won’t tell you your future. You’ll simply know to do something, now. Do it. Then repeat. Luck won’t get you to the life you want. Neither will hard work, good grades, or connections. But freedom and faith in yourself will. Despite everything you may have been taught, it’s letting go, not holding on, that can always show you the way.

18 replies
  1. Rachel Henke
    Rachel Henke says:

    Dear Martha
    Your articles are always uplifting and inspiring. This one about our wisdom resonated deeply and is exactly what I’ve been getting closer to understanding.

    Thank you for sharing.

  2. Jordan
    Jordan says:

    Lovely points here. Staying in “fixed ideas” is a lot like being in a rut. You’ve got to get out of it and learn to be free. Thanks for sharing your insight here!

  3. Victoria
    Victoria says:

    Thanks, just thanks! I so appreciate these posts. Doing The Quest was a great invitation for me to let go. I finally saw that it was like I was in a great beautiful river but preferring to cling to a big slippery rock (struggling ungracefully haha) than to just let myself be carried by the flow. Letting go has me watching and learning and admiring with softness. This in turn has fostered curiosity which is my new powerful ally to call on when uncertainty tries to bully me into not trusting the flow.

  4. Ella
    Ella says:

    I’m actually confused about this. What about all those times when your inner voice is completely off base? I’ve done things that felt “right” and “true” at the time but were actually very harmful and stupid, and it wasn’t because I was being too sensible; it was because I was too naive to know my hunches and feelings were misleading. I was severely under-informed (though of course I didn’t see that) and being manipulated by people who either knew better or should have. They wanted me to “trust my feelings” because actual thinking and judging would have blown their cover and set me free. Or sometimes they sincerely believed what they were saying but still turned out to be wrong. Surely I’m not alone in having gone through this kind of thing.

    • Jesica Davis
      Jesica Davis says:

      Ella, this is a great inquiry and one I hope you are taking deeper.
      When it comes to intuition, not only do I believe there is a never-ending learning curve, but I also think that sometimes we have to re-examine past results to see if our conclusions still stand. For instance, something that may have seemed “disastrous” in the past may, in fact, have taught you a great lesson on which you still rely today. In which case, you may begin to re-characterize it as a learning experience.
      On another hand, impulse and desire are not the same as intuition though they may be easily confused, especially when someone is appealing to our ego.
      I couldn’t possibly know your situations, but I just encourage you to re-examine your beliefs about your past, re-examine your beliefs about intuition, and just keep growing.

    • Laura
      Laura says:

      Hi Ella. My heart goes out to you. It sounds like you’ve been very badly burned in relationships when you were trying to follow your inner guidance. Here are some thoughts that come to mind.
      1. It may not be a case of your inner guidance being wrong. It may have been prompting you to action that was consistent with who you are. Are you kind? Sensitive to others? Caring? Giving? If these are parts of your True Nature, then of course your inner voice will be speaking this language. But what many of us haven’t been taught is to be our own protector (boundaries). And there are plenty of people who are more than happy to use our kind natures to serve themselves and shred us. There’s an excellent principle, taught by Jesus, that addresses this very thing – “don’t cast your pearls before swine”, meaning don’t take something precious and valuable (your sweet soul) and turn it over to anyone who has no capacity to value it. “They will only trample it underfoot, then turn and tear you apart”.
      2. My other thought is that there are some people who are just plain toxic. We may have compassion for them, but how many times can you be mauled emotionally and still come back? Are we even obligated to let ourselves be mauled? (The answer is a resounding NO). SELF compassion needs to be a standard, daily practice. We are first in line to take care of our hearts. Toxic people will often use the accusation that we are being selfish if we object to being mauled.

      I was just reminded of an excellent saying yesterday. ” If you aren’t for yourself, who will be. And if not now, when? ”

      Wishing you healing and light.

    • Sammy
      Sammy says:

      I love that you asked these very intelligent and pertinent questions, Ella … Also loved that Jessica replied – and that her reply felt to me more like continuing a dialogue you opened, than closing you down … Can you two clever women keep talking, please?? X

  5. Nancy Darling
    Nancy Darling says:

    I think there is a factor missing in your theory. (I’m really old and have a lot of perspective here…) Before “jobs” many folks, most in fact, lived in extended multigenerational families and tribes. This gave us the collective wisdom, experience, and role models to proceed. We have mostly lost those helpful circumstances. Our elder role models have had “jobs” and many of us live solo. We need to find new paths and role models and assemble tribes.

    • Jesica Davis
      Jesica Davis says:

      Hi Nancy,
      I don’t know if the factor you mention is exactly “missing” from Martha’s theory, so much as supplemental to it. Ironically, while multi-generational communities have a tremendous amount to add to all our lives (I certainly benefit from having my mother around to spend time with my kids) there is also a corresponding peril: the passing down of ossified and no-longer relevant ideas.
      Because we all come from a culture that is very attached to certain ways of thinking, it’s not assured that we can easily let go of those when we are enmeshed in family dynamics. So there’s definitely a give-and-take necessary when it comes to relating to extended family.
      But I applaud you for bringing it up, because I think that any conversation about success and culture which omits the role of family and community is always incomplete.

  6. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    I agree with your analysis. It’s not always a fun process or as easy as you make it sound. I have had to amass money over the last 5 years and have been willing to do all sorts of things that have provided me with amazing and wonderful adventures. My last journey offers me time and resources for opening myself up to the next path. I’m grateful for wise teacher like you in my life.

  7. Colleen Ingram
    Colleen Ingram says:

    Thank you Martha. Insightful and timely, as always. Love how you lean into tough subjects with humour and wisdom. You're one classy lady.

  8. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    HI Martha,

    That’s exactly where I’m at right now. I’m embracing an opportunity for change, letting the inner guidance help me with understanding why, and how it’s all perfect and amazing. That little girl inside doesn’t like it very much, but she’s starting to settle in to what can come because of it.

    Thanks for sharing <3

  9. Noelle
    Noelle says:

    As a product of a strong, nose to the grindstone ‘Midwestern work ethic’, this insight really hits home. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed those around me who achieve great success don’t usually work harder, but smarter. Reading this, I’m realizing it’s clearly more than that. Pondering my own career/financial advancements, I’m realizing they came at a time when I greatly loosened the reins but still maintained a clear, calm vision for what I desired. Thank you for the wonderful reminder to let go, get quiet and trust.

  10. Brooke Adamson
    Brooke Adamson says:

    I used to think that I was ‘doing meditation wrong’ because sometimes I couldn’t help but stop, jump up and jot down all the ideas and decisions that were popping into my mind.

    This brings clarity to those times that wasn’t doing it wrong but exactly right and wanted to capture what my intuition was telling me.

  11. Lynne
    Lynne says:

    This is an eye opener for me..something new…freedom from fixed ideas and attention to inner guidance will spell success. One has to let go in order for new ideas to come ! Thumbs up!

  12. Jesica Davis
    Jesica Davis says:

    Martha –
    This was such a great insight and one I’d never quite heard before. But yes, the capacity to release old beliefs is what makes room for new possibilities to enter our lives. When we cling to old ideas, we cling to old realities and at times like ours – when so much is changing – the ability to let go is paramount. Thanks, as always, for making such a clear and wise point.


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