Aug 04, 2015


Think Like a Millionaire: Start with Your T.E.A.

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money and success

Part I of the Awakening the Millionaire Mind post defined the poverty mindset and described how it limits us in all areas of our lives.  It also offered some insight into the mind and behaviors of financially successful people.

Today, we discuss how thoughts are at the core of our behaviors and actions.  We then offer a simple but insightful tool to help you change the limiting thoughts that ultimately keep you poor (financially, spiritually, emotionally and socially).

T.E.A. = Thoughts -> Emotions -> Actions

It’s simple.  Our behaviors do not happen in a vacuum.  Our actions (behaviors) are reactions to emotions, and our emotions are produced by thoughts.

Example: To clarify these three concepts and to show how they are related to one another, let’s talk about Ana:

Ana is a 37-year old working mother of 2.  Despite her busy life, Ana manages to exercise 4 to 5 times per week.

emotions -> action

In this example, Ana’s exercise regiment is the action. Action also refers to a behavior (or set of behaviors).  Ana exercises religiously because she is afraid of ending up like her mother and sister, both of whom are obese and have diabetes.  The fear of being obese and ill is the emotion that leads her to take action.

thoughts -> emotions

The thought of ending up obese and unhealthy makes her feel anxious because she is afraid of dying young and not being there to raise her children.

There is one more link to the T.E.A. model.  Our thoughts also do not happen in a vacuum.  Specific thoughts (or associations) we have about things, people, or concepts are normally formed by previous or current events.  To illustrate this point, let’s go back to Ana’s story.

The reason why Ana’s thoughts about obesity is associated with death is because both her grandmother and aunt died from cardiovascular problems related to their weight.  In this example, her experience of death and loss are the stimulating events causing her automatic thoughts.

On Money and Success

We can use the TEA (thoughts, emotions and actions) model to help us understand how our thoughts on money and on success (and anything else, really) impact the behaviors we ultimately take in life to pursue (or not) money and achieve (or not) success.

If you grew up thinking (or hearing) that rich people are obnoxious, classist, self-centered and demanding, there is a good chance that’s the automatic association you have to being rich.  And if your family had negative experiences with well-to do individuals or with people in power, these events will, for sure, impact how you feel about being powerful and rich.

Similarly, many people avoid achieving success (although they firmly believe they want to be successful) because their automatic thoughts about being successful are negative.  These thoughts, in turn, spark anxiety, or negative emotions about past difficult experiences with successful people.  To avoid these negative emotions, they engage in actions or behaviors that help reduce the anxiety.  Hence, they end up making decisions in life that lead to failure or unsuccessful ventures.


Fine Tuning Your Thoughts on Money and Success

There is a simple tool you can use right now to help you assess and fine tune your thoughts on money and success.  Take a few minutes, a notepad and pen to answer the following questions:


  • Write five words that automatically come to mind when you think about “money.”
  • What early life experiences (or life events) come to mind when you think about money?
  • What are your thoughts and feelings about rich people?
  • What are your thoughts and feelings about poor people and poverty?
  • How has debt, loans and poverty impacted your life and your family?


  • Write five words that automatically come to mind when you think about “success.”
  • What early life experiences (or life events) come to mind when you think about “failure”?
  • What are your thoughts and feelings about successful people?
  • What are your thoughts and feelings about people others might consider “losers”?
  • How might being successful impact how you are seen, perceived or treated by your family of origin, your spouse or friends?

If you answered these questions, you will notice that you have a lot of powerful associations to these two concepts. Consider how these thoughts have impacted the decisions and behaviors you’ve taken and continue to take around issues of money and success, in general.  To dig more into this, answer the following questions:

What emotions are you trying to avoid by not being successful?

Next Steps:

What new thoughts or associations can you come up with the concepts of “success” and being “rich?”

What new behaviors can you incorporate into your life to help you achieve success in a specific area of your life?

Are you ready to awaken the millionaire within?  It’s all up to you.

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Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Dr. Perez-Litwin is the Founder & CEO of ELLA Leadership Institute, a multi-platform professional development organization designed to advance the careers and leadership of women. She's the creative force behind the LATINAS THINK BIG™ national tour, sponsored and live-streamed by Google.

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  1. I experiencing this live with my start-up life right now. I find that I need to exercise twice a day even though I don’t really have time to, so that I have the stamina and energy I need. I also schedule fun and me time. I have worked 100 hour weeks since August but I have also had tons of fun. I find that I can focus and deliver more when I do schedule the me stuff. So invest in you not just in what you need to get done is my advice. Good for your work and good for you! So that is how I manage my TEAs. A great post. Off to exercise..

    • Julie, I agree. I find that when I take care of me first (e.g., sleep well, eat better), I am more creative, energetic and efficient. Makes sense right? Unfortunately, we get pulled in so many different directions…it’s hard to remain focused on taking care of us first.

    • It’s really great that people are sharing this informtiaon.

  2. I’m really enjoying this series. Change is difficult but you make it easier by breaking it into bite sized steps. Great job.

    • Ooh! I’m so happy this is resonating with you. I think it does help to gain insight into why we do the things we do. I’ll be adding more simple tools like these to future posts. Thanks for reading and commenting! Very much appreciated…

  3. Where you talking to me? ;)

    We have had this conversation before, and I´m so grateful you broke it down so clearly and effectively.

    Up until last year, in my late thirties, I finally understood the huge FEAR I had of success and how much I repelled money. Funny thing is that I wanted both, but pushed them out of my life the moment I saw them around the corner.
    Every single time I was close to material abundance, I would turn the other way or do something to self-destruct. I´ve never been without my basic needs, and a bit more, but I would limit myself to life´s real abundance.

    No more. I finally realized that my upbringing, in a materialistic society, with many role models that revered money above everything else, made me not want to be THAT person. I thought money and success corrupted you. Until I let go of that notion, I wasn´t allowing anything to come in.

    I´m still working on all of it and allowing myself to be grateful for everything I have and let life continue to gift me with what I am meant to achieve. All with hard work and no bread of shame.

    Thanks, Angelica!

    • LOL! No, I was not talking to you…but trust me, you are not alone with these associations. Many of us do that because we did grow up having mixed feelings about being financially successful. I am personally learning a lot of new lessons, which is why I can share them here! Thanks for your comments Ana!

  4. A friend recommended your blog to me today and I’m so glad they did! Very useful and inspiring post. Leveraging the power of positive thinking is high on my list of priorities for next year and I’m always on the lookout for inspiring and informative resources. Look forward to reading more!

    • Tanya, I absolutely love it when I hear that a friend has recommend the website to another friend! I’m happy to hear the posts are useful and inspiring. I appreciate you leaving a comment and I hope you do continue to visit here. We have great things lined up for the year 2011!

  5. I am so glad you wrote this and provided concrete examples with the TEA steps.
    I think it is so vital as Latinos to start engaging in this process and ones similar – I have had to do so so so much work in this area regarding money and am still doing work!
    As a community I think there is a lot work collectively that we can do to heal and to move forward.
    Have an amazing weekend!


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