Breaking Bad Money Patterns on the Road to Financial Independence with Nona Jordan

by Coach Jill Farmer | Financial Independence, Courses and Coaches, Money and Finance, Physician Coaching, Podcast

This episode is all about breaking bad money patterns on the road to financial independence for doctors with Nona Jordan.

“Your best friend is going to be having a clear sense of what is going on with your money on a regular ongoing basis.” -Nona Jordan; Master Coach, Guide, & Author

In today’s episode, Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer and guest Master Coach Nona Jordan tackle how to break learned money patterns that can hold over from childhood. Do you find that sometimes you are playing out the scarcity or other money patterns of your parents or grandparents that you witnessed as a child? Turns out that those patterns can become baked into us and we may feel and act on them even if they aren’t relevant to our finances today. Luckily, we have two amazing Coaches to guide us! Jill and Nona walk us through some specific Coaching examples and give us specific tools to break free from old money patterns that are not serving us. Tune in to this episode and start your journey on the road to financial freedom with DocWorking by your side. 

Nona Jordan holds a master’s degree in Applied Psychology from Harvard Extension School. She is also a master coach, yoga, breath, and meditation instructor, and former CPA. Nona has lived and traveled all over the world, most recently in Zambia, which fundamentally changed how she experiences living in the western world. Nona brings all of her experiences together to create generative space for professionals who are ready to take healing and empowerment to the next level by unraveling the scarcity wound both personally and professionally.

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Please enjoy the full transcript below


Nona: Your best friend is going to be having a clear sense of what it is that’s going on with your money on a regular ongoing basis.


[DocWorking theme]


Jill: Hello, everyone. We are so glad you’re here at DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. I’m Jill Farmer, a lead coach at DocWorking. Today, we’re talking about money and it’s going to be an interesting, juicy conversation. Even if you’re somebody that’s like, “Oh, I don’t talk about money,” you want to listen to this, because there’s going to be some things that might really turn a lightbulb on for you about some of the things that have happened or continue to happen around money in your life. I think the perfect person for this conversation, she is Nona Jordan, a brilliant coach. She helps healing professionals just like all of you get right with money. Moving from scarcity wounding to worthiness to create a deeply satisfying more than enough life.


Her background, as a trauma sensitive coach comes from having a Master’s degree in psychology from Harvard, and an undergraduate degree in business and a former CPA. She really has the balance of understanding numbers as well as the psychology of transformation. Nona has been my coach around money and has really helped transform my life when it comes to money. Today, Nona, I really wanted us to talk about some of the ways that our own histories and the way that we grew up around money gets baked into us, and then plays out into our adult lives in ways that sometimes we’re not always aware. So, thanks for being with us and thanks for being willing to be part of this conversation today.


Nona: Oh, thank you so much for inviting me, Jill. It’s really a pleasure. This is one of my favorite topics. I’m happy to be here in conversation with you.


Jill: When it comes to physicians, of course, there’s just as many different personal stories and personal situations when it comes to physicians and finances for individual physicians. There are some patterns that I’ve seen come through now in this better part of a decade of coaching physicians when it comes to money. For some, there’s a pretty significant lack of money through the medical education training even through residency, where there’s some payment, but not enough and not often enough to cover the expenses of that education. Coming out of it when a salary is earned, that is commensurate with the amount of education for some physicians, it’s like, “Okay, woohoo, I finally don’t have to be so stressed about money.”


There’s rapid spending that later on creates situations that physicians are going, “Oh, no. Now, I feel trapped in this job choice, whatever I’ve made, because of that. For other people, it’s being so immersed and ensconced in the incredible depth of medical education, which is so all encompassing, that learning some of the one-on-one basics around money just doesn’t come onto their radar. So, when they start earning money and want to be responsible, they might start asking other people in their profession about money instead of going outside to money professionals and later on, they’re like, “Huh, turns out that really smart surgeon who I liked that told me I should invest in XYZ didn’t know anything about investment or money.” So, that’s created a challenging situation for me.


There’s a variety of situations that I’ve heard, variations of those two things come up a lot when it comes to coaching physicians. Can you see how that medical education and that experience of money would lead to situations that could be challenging for physicians as they move toward a healthy money life later on?


Nona: Oh, my gosh, yes. I think what you’re talking about. I’ll start with the second one first. But I think that financial education just in our country at large is not very good. Kids aren’t taught how to manage money and that’s actually the easy part, right? We know, physicians, just like most American adults are smart individuals who can learn new things. That’s actually the easy part is saying, “I want to learn how to actually manage my money.” It’s all the baggage that comes with that emotionally in the thoughts we have about it that actually are problematic. That is where a lot of the stuff I work with comes into play.


Now, the super expensive education, we’re talking about a societal dynamic there that education is so profoundly expensive that puts people into incredible amounts of debt going into their work. That’s hard. There’s that piece as well that isn’t necessarily something you can do something personally about. If you make the choice to pursue an education, you are likely going to have some level of debt that you are going to have to manage. But if you don’t actually have the ability or you don’t want to manage your money, it compounds the debt. Those are I think very tangible things that we can get a hold of around money, but it’s what comes behind it, like, we were talking about a little bit before. It becomes problematic for people.


Jill: That’s where you helped me so much as a coach. Yes, I am a coach. I’ve been Master Certified Life Coach for almost 12 years now. Coaches need coaching just like every human being [laughs] needs coaching. One of the things that you helped me so much with, Nona around coaching is understanding that I had these imprints baked into me around money, and specifically money scarcity based on my childhood that, even though I’m living a very different life than my childhood, I have different streams of income, all kinds of things that were very different from my childhood. I was subconsciously playing out a lot of those patterns from my childhood scarcity in a way that wasn’t necessarily serving me. That’s where you really, really helped me grow. Why do we do that as human beings?


Nona: I don’t think we can help it. I think that becoming aware of it as an adult is so powerful, you’re talking about. But when we’re children and our families or we have experiences in our family that lead us to feel a certain way or take something on. We can’t really do anything about that as children. That’s the key piece. We take it on as children, we believe it like its gospel truth, and then, we live it out like you were talking about. It becomes baked into us, it’s a subconscious, unconscious beliefs, and experiences. In my opinion, based on my experience, it operates very much like a trauma because trauma is about frozen energy. Those money stories that we absorb as children become imprinted on us and frozen energy that we perpetually turn back to and try and fix. It’s unconscious, we recreate the same kinds of things that might not look the same.


You have more money, you have more streams of income, but there’s something happening where you’re recreating or you’re re-experiencing the same thing over and over again, because our bodies want to heal. We just go back to do the same thing over and over until we get it until we go, “Oh, I see where this comes from.” Those kinds of imprints can happen from our family of origin, which is where a lot of it comes from. It doesn’t have to necessarily be around money. It can be stories or narratives that we hear about ourselves around capability, what we’re capable of, what we’re not capable of, around worthiness. A lot of that can play into societal messaging, particularly for people our age or older, and certainly younger as well, but narratives around around gender, and what kind of roles you’re supposed to play. These all play a part and we don’t necessarily have conscious thought about it. It just is part of who we are and how we live until we become aware of it.


Jill: Powerful. If it’s okay with you, I want to do a little coaching workshopping around a situation that came up and I share it with permission from a client. Let’s call this physician, Sandy. Somebody who wants to have some more options in the coming years around work, right now starting to see early, early signs of some burnout and contributing to that burnout is the pressurized situation of feeling like, “I can’t leave this job because I’ve got these financial obligations,” and so that circles around.


Sandy has an awareness that when she gets pressurized and stress, it makes her feel good to shop. She can list in a very logical way. The reasons that that contributes then to pressure later because then once the stuff comes, and she loves it, and it feels good, and she really likes all that stuff, but then there’s of course the obligation of paying the bills from the shopping and the stuff. She has a big sense of like, “Yep, when I was little, when the going got tough, my mom and I would get in the car and go to the store and buy something and they would help us feel better.” There’s probably some imprinting there among some other things. What kind of conversation might you start to have with Sandy a little bit about a situation like that, that says instead of like, “Oh, yeah, that happened when you were a kid?” You know it’s not going to help you now but noticing that the pattern keeps repeating itself even with that awareness.


Nona: Yeah. The first thing that I would probably say is how amazing that Sandy is aware. She recognizes the connection between how she received comfort in her family of origin and what she’s doing now in response to pressure and stress. Because my background is not only in psychology, and coaching, and accounting, but also, I’m a yoga teacher, and a breath and meditation teacher. I come to this from the perspective of someone who believes our most powerful ability is to pause in the moment. We have these practices, hopefully, whether we’re 10-minute-a-day meditators or we practice yoga twice a week, but we practice in order that in those stressful moments, we can pause and we can step back and see ourselves, maybe we take three deep breaths or we feel our feet on the ground. But just giving ourselves a pause to recognize and notice what’s happening in that moment.


That is something I would wonder about for her initially is, what kind of practices do you have that are potentially going to help you build that muscle of pausing in the moment? Making a different decision of thinking about your values and priorities in that moment. Of course, that can be very painful. [laughs] The tension between wanting that comfort and recognizing that the future you want maybe does not true up with your desire in the moment. It is really in the tension of that, in the discomfort of that, that we can gain a lot of purchase in healing if we can give ourselves the space and time to do that. That’s not always possible nor do we always want to do that. I just want to be very clear. We often do not want to do that. So, that’s really where I would start because in that tension, when we can find that place, then we can go back and work with the imprint.


When we find ourselves in that tension point now, we are often able to also access the pain that we shut off through shopping, the suffering that we were trying to alleviate, the imprints that got stuck the energy around what happened to us as children, we’re more able to access that. Does that make sense?


Jill: 100%. That’s exactly what we did, so, I love it. Also, when she said that, there was a noticing, “Oh, I’m feeling discomfort,” and I know regular listeners of the podcast that seems to be something I’m talking about a lot recently is like just because we feel discomfort, it doesn’t mean that something bad is happening. Sometimes it does, but we have to learn to differentiate like, “Oh, that’s the discomfort of not trying to jump in to comfort myself with something that long term isn’t necessarily going to support me.” That’s how we gain the ability to turn the ship even by one degree in a direction that can take us to a whole different continent. That was really brilliant.


Another quick scenario, let’s call this physician, Frank. Earning a good living, doing good work, early 40s, end even though the bank account is where a lot of Americans would strive for it to be, the income is steady. There’s still this constant nagging sensation that somehow, it’s not enough and that he needs to worry about it, and it creates conflict and irritation in the relationship with his spouse, because questioning where all that spending is going because there’s this underlying belief that no matter how much is in the account, you should still really be worried and a little concerned that it’s not there. [laughs]


Nona: Oh, yeah. This breaks my heart. I feel that is the story of so many Americans, who have enough and still feel that persistent sense of, but it could all go away, the other shoe could drop. Again, if we go back, I would be so curious what Frank’s history is and what his family life was like when he was growing up. If in fact, he experienced not having enough, so that can be the story that it can be from our family. But the other thing that we have to keep in mind is that, one, there’s an incredible pressure societally to always be seeking the next thing and to be seeking more. Our advertising, our education, everything around us is always telling us, there’s not enough we have to get more, we have to get more, we have to get more. There’s that piece, but then there can also be which is very prevalent in our generation that there can be intergenerational pieces.


There can be what I would really wonder about being epigenetic because we have grandparents, who lived through the depression. My husband, his grandmother was taken into service basically slavery by the Nazis and just never felt there was ever, ever enough. Interestingly enough, even though I have certainly never had an experience where I’ve been like Clara, my daughter, “We don’t have enough money. We can’t do this right now.” I have never said that to my daughter. She has the most interesting relationship to resources. “I only need one. I don’t need more than one.” I’m like, “Where does that come from?” We can absorb things through our family line. I truly, truly believe that. Plus, we have these cultural and societal legacies really of not enoughness that through the depression and through even our reasons for initially coming here.


We can have an experience of scarcity wounding and not have any idea, not even have a way to point to a specific thing and say, “This is why we just have to be willing to. Look at what’s here.” Obviously, there’s enough, I’m okay taking that pause, feeling the feet on the ground, taking some breaths, and like, “But I’m really uncomfortable.” Going back to that piece about the discomfort and like, “Where do I feel this in my body?” With those circumstances, if there isn’t something in the family history that we can directly point to, we can trust the body, and the sensations, and the feelings to lead the way, which can be hard for folks like doctors who are incredibly intelligent and want to be able to explain everything. In some of these cases, you just can’t. It’s just something that is here that needs to be tended.


Jill: Really, really powerful. Just as an interesting side note. I heard a talk with the psychologist a number of years ago and he was greatly influenced by his father, who was also a psychologist, who wrote a lot just about noticing of– because he was somebody who practiced a lot with people who had lived through the Depression and World War II and the Korean War, and just impact. But he said, his dad always had this theory that I don’t think he ever formally researched but that was that the people that were in their adult years living through the Depression bounced back and like, “Well, we made it through that. Look how good life is,” actually did better than people who were children during the depression. Even if their life rebounded from that, and they had okay lives, that imprints of being a child during that time and the scarcity, and the shortages seemed to have a longer lasting impact than those who as adults really also struggled and suffered, but got to see with that adult mind, the resilience of getting through it. So, I thought that was just an interesting perspective on that.


You’ve talked about some really powerful ways that we can heal from some of these money, legacy, challenges, imprints, trauma even. One is awareness. That’s really important is just being aware of what patterns aren’t serving you and noticing where some of those patterns may have gotten baked in. I think that’s super powerful, too, is having a practice in place, not being the world’s best meditator or most Zen person, but beginning to play with the practice of what it looks to slow down the reaction before action time and noticing if that allows us to make better choices. What are some other things that we should know if we suspect that some of the ways that we were raised, or lived, or just have soaked in from the world around us in terms of money patterns are not really helping us out in the stages of our life?


Nona: One of the things that I’ve always really want to invite people to do is to actually learn, and to be an actively engaged participant in your money tracking, and all of those habits. Because we can manufacture stories all day long about what’s actually happening with our money. But until we actually are looking at it, we have to know. We have to have a bottom line understanding of what’s happening with our money and using our brains and saying, “Oh, look, here’s what my account balance is, here’s what’s going on, here’s how much I make.” Really having those concrete feet on the ground, I know this is true. Because otherwise we get into stories of the past and we can’t necessarily even recognize it as such, because we don’t actually have an idea of what’s happening right now. That is really hard for people. Especially, busy people who are like, “I don’t want to do that, I don’t want to deal with it, I make enough money.” It’s like, you do but if you’re still experiencing a situation where you’re overspending or you’re anxious about spending, your best friend is going to be having a clearer sense of what it is that’s going on with your money on a regular ongoing basis. That’s going to help you identify what is real and what is happening that is based on a past experience.


Jill: So helpful. I can give a personal [laughs] testimony to that experience of when I received my coaching from you around money and money stress that was kind of perpetual and given for me regardless of what seemed to be happening in my extrinsic or outside money situation in life. As I was transitioning from a nine to five job into my career as a coach all those years ago, that transition triggered a lot of those old challenges. So, you’ve helped me understand how getting regular with my money tracking. It wasn’t going to just stress me out. It was actually going to be a pathway to where I could strengthen the muscle of presence about what was really happening now and let my adult-self make wise or more values driven decisions about what I wanted to do with money, how I wanted to bring it in, how I wanted to spend it going out, and it was really, really powerful.


Nona: Yeah. That’s something that I had to come to. I think I had done money coaching for a number of years with my own background of being messy with money. It took me a number of years to get to the point where I was like, “Oh, I actually need to pay attention. [laughs] My real money, not just what’s happening in my mind about my money.” I get it. I get the resistance to doing that and all the layers that are there around that.


Jill: Nona, I know you and I both agree that we can’t scare ourselves, or beat ourselves up, or try to pressurize ourselves into just fixing our money issues if we’re not willing to slowdown just a little bit and pay attention to those patterns that are causing us to do the same damn thing over and over [laughs] again, not get such great results.


Nona: Absolutely. I think that I love what financial planners and advisors have to offer us. But I think when we are caught in a pattern that is unconscious around money, what happens is, we think, “Oh, I’m going to do this thing, I’m going to change it based on what this person said,” and then when we don’t or we end up falling back into old patterns, we feel like a jerk. We don’t understand why we can’t do it the way that this person has laid it out. I think it’s an important perspective to bring some compassion and understanding to the conversation one has with oneself around capability and what’s actually happening with your money.


Jill: Any other final thoughts you have for our physician listeners who are thinking, “Okay, I’m ready in this year to maybe shift some of my patterns around money and scarcity into a new direction.”


Nona: Yeah. I think what we’ve just talked about, finding some way to track or even pay attention, you don’t even have to be the person that puts it in, but if you are taking time to look at it on a daily basis, I think that is one of the foundational steps. The other thing in particular for physicians, people who tend to have enough financial resourcing is to notice that. Especially, if you’re dealing with feeling scarce, like, the gratitude. Gratitude, we know is so powerful on so many different levels. But really taking the time to recognize the resources, financial and otherwise that are available in this moment that surround you. That can go a long way to just soothing that scarce feeling in the moment and building that muscle of recognizing what’s available. I also think that really brings us in touch with our values and who we really want to be with our money. It gets us out of that reactivity of spending just for spending sake or feeling there’s not enough and we don’t have the money. I think those things right there alone can really start to move the needle towards what we really want, who we want to be, and how we want to be with our money.


Jill: Perfectly said as always. What’s a great conversation and you just helped remind me of some important ways that I want to steer my compass back in the direction of values driven [laughs] money decisions, and how easy it is to let some of those old stories and imprints take me in directions that aren’t moving me in a direction. That is the way that I want to direct my own life to leave a legacy for my kids and all of those things. So, Nona Jordan, thank you for the information. If people want to learn more from you, how can they get a hold of you?


Nona: They can find me at I’ve got all my little monikers on Instagram, and Facebook, and all the things on that website. You can find me there. I would love to hear what lands for people and what they’re going to do like, what step are they going to take? I would just love to connect.


Jill: Well, if you didn’t walk away from this conversation inspired, then you need to rewind it, listen to it again, because there’s so much good stuff in there. Thank you, Nona Jordan for all of your insights today and especially thank all of you, who joined in to listen and are inspired to try something new. Don’t forget, today’s a day, go to to find out how you can join our Thrive community for physicians today. It’s literally the perfect time for you to recalibrate yourself and start your New Year with peer support, with coaching support, with fantastic ideas. We are here to serve you and the Thrive community is helping physicians thrive today. Until next time, I’m Jill farmer on DocWorking: The Whole Physician podcast.




Jen: Why do we as physicians have a reputation for being terrible at managing money? Possibly because we’re saddled with debt. By the time we finish our residency training, we’re modern indentured servants. We don’t get any financial training, we don’t have time to learn how to do that on our own because we’re working all the time and when we finish our training, we have this societal expectation that we’re going to have a certain lifestyle. We’ve delayed gratification for years during all of the training. What if there was an online community of likeminded physicians facilitated by experienced coaches, who could help you weather the storm, and sail right through to get to where you want to be, and plan ahead, so that you could get into a financial safety zone that would then allow you personally, professionally, and financially to arrive where you want to be.


Amanda: I’m Amanda Taran, producer of DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. Thank you for being here. Please check us out at and please don’t forget to like and subscribe. Thank you for listening.


Jill Farmer is an experienced physician coach who has been helping doctors live their best lives, increase their success, and move through burnout for well over a decade.

She has delivered keynotes, programs, and training everywhere from Harvard Medical School to the American College of Cardiology.

She has personally coached hundreds of physicians, surgeons, and other busy professionals to help them be at their best—without burning themselves out. Her coaching has supported professionals at places like Mass General Brigham in Boston, Washington University in St. Louis, Northwestern University in Chicago and too many others to list.

Jill wrote the book on time management for busy people. Literally. It’s called “There’s Not Enough Time…and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves” which debuted as a bestseller on Amazon. Her work has been featured everywhere from Inc. to Fitness Magazine to The Washington Post.

Nationally recognized as a “brilliant time optimizer and life maximizer,” Jill will cut straight to the heart of your stress to liberate you from its shackles. She has two young adult daughters. She lives with her husband and their poorly behaved dachshund in St. Louis, MO.

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