Harvard-trained financial expert: How to let go of ‘self-sabotaging beliefs and habits around money'

Manisha Thakor's MoneyZen is a guide to help women feel "never enough" and overcome it through financial planning.

Harvard-trained financial expert: How to let go of ‘self-sabotaging beliefs and habits around money'

According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Labour Organization (2021), overworking caused 745,000 strokes and deaths due to ischemic and cardiovascular disease in 2016.

In her latest book "MoneyZen - The Secret to Finding Your 'Enough'", author Manisha Thakor examines the causes and dangers of always seeking more.

According to the American Heart Association, between 2000 and 2016, working long hours increased heart disease deaths by 42% and stroke deaths by 19%.

Report for 2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

In 2016, the majority of 745,00 deaths from these causes occurred amongst people aged 60 to 79 who had worked 55 hours per week or more between the ages 45 and 74.

Her new book,

MoneyZen: the Secret to finding your 'Enough'

Manisha Thakor, an author and financial planner with a Harvard MBA, explores why people overwork themselves. She also examines the long-term risks that people may face. Thakor is a certified financial advisor and chartered financial analyst with an MBA from Harvard. She wants to help people overcome work addictions and "self-sabotaging habits and beliefs around money, careers, and accomplishments."

This interview has been edited for clarity.

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Ana Teresa Sola - What is the "never sufficient" mindset?

Manisha Thakor:

The "never-enough" mindset is a feeling of not being satisfied with your accomplishments or praise, no matter what. You feel almost compelled to continue chasing these things in a toxic, subliminal way. It doesn't matter how many you get, the desire to have them never seems to go away.

Can you explain how the Buddhist concept of hungry ghosts is connected to the feeling that "never enough"?


The idea is that there are hungry ghosts among us. They are beings seeking love, belonging, and to be appreciated for what they are rather than for what they have done. According to the Buddhist tradition, these ghosts are starving and have large bellies, but their throats are tiny. They can't digest all the beautiful things they receive in their daily life.

I've met an unprecedented amount of people struggling with this type of mindset. My argument is that people are suffering from the symptoms of a culture that has been built around the false belief that pursuing more work, more money and more prestige is the answer to their collective anxiety. These things make us hungry ghosts, because there is no end to them.

"Increased income does not lead to increased life satisfaction"

How are the working conditions in America perpetuating "never enough"?


From many different angles, it is enormous. Unbelievably, we have many people earning less than the minimum wage. There are people who work two or three jobs for minimum wage, and are exhausted from trying to support their families. They are also struggling to find social safety nets. We also have a group of people that add immense value to society, from teachers to frontline medical workers. But they are not paid at all compared to their value.

The last rotten cherry is that we as a culture have become so reliant on how people behave.

You'd say that our work has become so ingrained in our lives that we are what we do.


It starts very early. When we ask children, "What would you like to be when you're grown up?" Character is not the same as "be". Be kind, compassionate, and loving. What we mean is, "What are you going to do as a career?" This is the lens, and it begins at a very young age.

What are the risks of overworking ourselves?


We may end up looking back on our adult lives and realizing that we have spent many years "doing" rather than thriving as "beings." One of the risks is that you will be shut down by your core relationships. They are like my family.

The biggest problem is the pervasive feeling of emptiness, that life just isn't satisfying. Even though you are earning more money, this does not translate into a sense of satisfaction.

"Identify what is on the other side" of your self-worth

How can someone change their behavior before it's too late? How can a person change their behavior before its too late?


The majority of us optimize our lives to some toxic equation. In my case I believed that my net worth was equal to my self-worth. To begin, you must identify what lies on the other side. MoneyZen is the place I'd like to introduce you to, which I believe to be a better framework for making decisions regarding your limited resources of money and time.

What is MoneyZen ATS?


It's an expression I coined more than a decade back, and I use it to describe having calm confidence and clarity both about your relationship with your money and the part you want your money to play in life. It's more of a mental state than a number. To get there, you need to have a mental image of "financial" plus "emotional" wealth.

What advice would give younger adults just starting out in their relationship with money and career?


Generally speaking, live within your means. Most people do not live within their means, so your life will be different from those around you.

This is the foundation for establishing lifelong good financial habits. Once you master this skill, you can be responsible in managing your debt and even aggressive when it comes to paying off that debt. We all know that the unexpected is a certainty. So, you should also set money aside to create an emergency fund. You also have money set aside to invest in the future, because you know the power of compounding.

Three things is the three-legged stool of financial success.