If you’re having a hard time with money, perhaps the problem is not your parents, your employer, your kids, your…. Well, the list is endless. Perhaps the problem is you. Yes, it’s you.
Money did not always exist. We humans did not always need it for our survival. But we do now. So what is your relationship with money? And it is a relationship. A lifelong one that most likely began with our parents (or primary providers) and later evolved into a relationship with our employer. If you’re a business owner like me, money is the currency of exchange between the business and its customer.
I don’t think many people really stop to contemplate their relationship with money. There are psychological blocks and barriers at the heart of this issue. What are they? Which ones apply to you? If you ask me, there are only two blocks at the heart of this issue and countless solutions. Once you overcome these blocks, you can embrace money with open arms.
Most people hate their jobs. I would hate to have people working for me who hate their jobs. I hate having to work with staff who see their jobs as a paycheck and a means to an end. When I first started my business Mith Books, an angel investor gave me an incredibly valuable piece of advice. His words are tattooed in my memory.
“If they’re not willing to work for no money, get rid of them.”
Since then, I have come to know this angel investor quite closely as a person. He is neither cruel nor harsh, neither stingy nor unfair. To him, work should always be an act of joy–especially in a startup. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard VCs and investors say that it is ‘a numbers game’. To them, it is a game. That is not to say that they take it lightly. More that the very act of starting a business and making money through it can and should be a joyous one.
It shouldn’t be a daily slog or grind of showing up someplace you don’t want to be and interacting with people you simply can’t stand.
Whilst the vast majority of people work to earn a living, there are plenty who don’t. In recent years, there have been a plethora of coaches, ‘experts’ and so on and so forth who preach that starting a business will cure all your money miseries and miraculously make you rich as you own your destiny. Fads that fade are nothing new.
The truth is, you can be equally miserable running a business. In the early years, not only do you not get paid for your own work, you have to invest your own money (and quite possibly someone else’s) to get the business up and running. If you have team members who’re there for the money, they unequivocally need to go. Why should these clowns make you miserable working in your own business?
If you have financial woes and worries, take heart in the words of Lynne Twist. In The Soul of Money she writes, “I discovered deep wounds and conflicts in the way people related to their money. Many people felt they had sold out and become someone they didn’t like anymore. Some were forcing themselves to do work that wasn’t meaningful. Many felt enslaved by their experience of being overtaxed by their government, or beaten down by their boss or by the burden of running a family business or employing others. Their relationship with money was dead—or, most accurately, dread— and there was hurt there. There was resentment. There were painful compromises, a kind of rawness. People were bruised and battered there. Not everyone, but many people were very unsettled and uncomfortable and just not their best selves in their relationship with money. They felt little or no freedom with money, no matter how much they had.”
There is an adage that is often taught in business schools, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” This is an adage that people often apply when negotiating salary with an employer. I’m all for taking your chances. However, you should be aware that often times you ask; and you still don’t get. The truth is, usually there is a set budget allocated for a certain job. Where you fall in the salary bracket is typically not that large. Most often the salary bracket is based on the organisation’s budget and not the employee’s qualifications. It is the same for commissioned or freelance work. If the task is not integral to the functioning of the organisation, it will likely get cut… or simply not make the cut.
I’ve been on both sides of the salary negotiating table. I’ve asked for a raise. I’ve been asked for a raise. I’ve even been in a situation where I’ve taken or been asked to take a pay cut. To me, the real question is not so much the numbers itself, but what the numbers mean to you. Courtesy of the Coronavirus, many people have had no choice but to take a pay cut. Numerous businesses–especially in the brick-and-mortar retail, service and hospitality sectors–have seen a dent in their profit margin. Most of these people haven’t walked away from a job or a business due to purely financial reasons. They know it is temporary and even necessary.
If your relationship with money is making you miserable, perhaps it’s time to sit down, do some self-reflection and contemplate on the reason why.
I hate to say it, but it probably started in your childhood.
We all have fears. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t. You’re afraid to leave that job because of the stability and structure it provides. Most people keep their day jobs while they work on a side hustle for a reason. But if your day job is where you’re investing all of your energy and your side hustle remains a side hustle for longer than it should–then perhaps it might be worth focusing on one instead of juggling both like a jester.
For many people, their side hustle is a hobby to distract them from how unhappy they are in their day job. For others, it’s a hobby that earns them a few extra dollars while they focus on a fruitful employment position. There’s nothing wrong with either of those two decisions.
The real question is–when you want to jump, do you jump? Or does some hidden fear or insecurity hold you back?
Insecurity is an easy emotion to spot. This person doesn’t think they’re good enough. If you ask me, this is a particularly dangerous emotion because this individual will crave and cling to external forms of validation–be it in likes, followers, attention and even money. This person cannot handle rejection or accept temporary setbacks.
If you’re running a startup, this person could potentially cause a lot of harm to the organisation. Rejection is the norm when a business is new. If an individual cannot stomach a snub, he will not be able to withstand the demands of building an organisation. It is, ultimately, a numbers game. The law of probabilities states that if you knock on enough doors, someone will say yes. A caveat–be mindful not to knock on the same door repeatedly unless you want that person to chase you away.
If someone gets destroyed psychologically by a ‘no’ or perhaps even a ‘not yet’, there is something seriously wrong. Alarm bells should go off in your head. A person’s unwillingness to risk temporary unpleasant experiences for greater rewards is a sign of a deep character flaw. This individual simply cannot be trusted.
That is not to say you cannot overcome insecurity. If and when you do overcome that fear, you are no longer insecure. You have faced your shadow and emerged into the light.
You are now confident.
Our Relationship with Money
Some of us are hoarders, some of us are spendthrifts, some of us are hagglers, some of us are deep in debt and some of us are coupon hunters. Whatever your situation may be, it may be worth taking a cold hard look at your relationship with money and figuring out what it represents it your psyche.
The answers may surprise… and enlighten you.
Dipa Sanatani is the Publisher at Mith Books and the author of The Little Light and The Merchant of Stories. In The Merchant of Stories, Dipa takes the reader on a personal journey–narrated through a series of candid journal entries–on what it takes for entrepreneurs and creatives to start their very first venture.