Jen Sincero knows what it's like to feel broke: Before making a name for herself as a success coach and as the New York Times best-selling author of the 2013 book "You Are a Badass," she was struggling to make ends meet as a freelance writer.
"I was probably making about $28,000 a year on average," the now 53-year-old tells CNBC Make It. "I was living in Venice Beach, California, in a teeny, tiny, crappy apartment."
And, until eight years ago, she had nothing in savings.
Today, Sincero is "making seven figures as a success coach and author," she writes in her 2017 follow-up, "You Are a Badass at Making Money."
She's been on both sides of the wealth spectrum, and "the biggest difference between wealthy people and broke people is their mindset and how they feel about money," she tells Make It.
If you want to build wealth, you have to start by telling yourself it's OK, Sincero writes: "One of the biggest obstacles to making lots of money is not a lack of good ideas or opportunities or time, or that we're too slovenly or stupid. It's that we refuse to give ourselves permission to become rich."
After all, it can feel awkward to admit that you have that ambition — but it's necessary.
"Back in the day, I realized that one of the things I said all the time was, 'I can't afford it.' That was sort of my mantra," Sincero tells Make It. She didn't start building wealth until she changed her mantra to "money flows to me easily and freely."
"So every time I wanted to say, 'I can't afford it,' I forced myself to say, 'Money flows to me easily and freely,' which seemed a little bit bananas," she admits. "But what it did was it made me feel better — it was way more fun to say that than 'I can't afford it.' And, it also forced me to shift my focus to be like, 'OK, are there ways that money does flow to me easily and freely?'"
Changing her modes of thinking helped her change her reality, she says: "Once you shift your focus off of proving that, 'I can't afford it because I am Jen Sincero and I am broke,' to proving that my money flows to me easily and freely, you open yourself up to the ways to make the new mantra true."
She's not the only self-made millionaire who suggests that getting rich begins with your mindset. "When I began studying the ultra successful and super rich in 1984, I thought they were more ambitious than the average person," Steve Siebold writes in his book, "How Rich People Think," which compares the thoughts and habits of the middle class to the wealthiest individuals. "I later discovered after hundreds of interviews that it wasn't the lack of desire that held the masses back from getting wealthy, but the lack of belief in their own ability to make it happen."
The average person thinks they aren't worthy of great wealth, Siebold writes: "Who am I, they ask themselves, to become a millionaire?"
Meanwhile, "the world-class asks, why not me? I'm as good as anyone else and I deserve to be rich. If I serve others by solving problems, why shouldn't I be rewarded with a fortune? And since they have that belief, their behavior moves them toward the manifestation of their dreams."
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