What comes to mind when you read that word?
Freedom, constriction, envy, fear, love?
Do you have enough?
What is enough?
Money’s been on my mind lately. It comes up in my coaching sessions with clients A LOT. It’s in the air between friends. It lingers when the check comes after a fancy dinner. It’s the unspoken question when someone returns from an incredible trip somewhere.
“How did you get that? And how can I get some too?”
Money wasn’t something that was talked about in my family growing up. I didn’t know what anyone made. I knew when there wasn’t enough. And I knew when there was an abundance. And all along, it seemed like some mystical thing.
It seemed hard.
Most of the adults I knew didn’t seem to enjoy the work they did to earn this mystical, magical stuff. And the ones who did–well, I couldn’t fathom why they wanted to sit in offices all day doing what they did. One summer, I worked an internship at my mom’s company where I filed documents and input numbers. After weeks of monotonous, mind numbing work, I cried in front of the entire office. I couldn’t imagine a lifetime of beige cubicles and limited sunlight and number-filled papers. I wanted out.
So I got the heck out.
I have an amazing mother who supported my out-of-the-box ideas from the start. But no one around me was living a life that looked like the one I wanted. The idea that making money could be fun was like the mythical unicorn: read about in fairytales but nowhere in sight.
I spent the next decade touring the highs and lows of money. In my early twenties, I lived in the Chicago theatre world, where there was a lot of passion and freedom but very little money. I ran social events and found creative ways to trade my talents as a people-person for cash.
At 25, I moved to rural Canada where the doctors were paid piles of money to live in the middle of nowhere. Some of that money became my money. I had plenty but I felt empty. It was a rigged trade: friends and culture for isolation and wealth. I wondered if it was an either-or-proposition.
At 27, I became a real estate agent in Vancouver and got an inside look at how the extremely wealthy lived. I wore heels and smiled a lot and helped sell $4 million condos to people who would leave them vacant because they already had four other places to live. My phone rang at 11 pm and I worked 7 days a week. Unicorn, it was not.
And, for a while, I stayed at home and made no money and questioned what my worth was if I couldn’t produce, even though we had way more than we needed. I searched for ways to be worthy in a relationship where my husband was in the top 1% of Canadian earners.
I tried to be perfect in a thousand different ways since I didn’t have a clue how to go out and pull in half a million dollars a year without losing my soul and sanity in the process.
When I thought about money, all I could see were beige cubicles.
Money had a huge hold on me. Whether I had a little or a lot. It didn’t make a difference.
When you grow up thinking money has to be earned in a specific way, the world of work becomes a small, passionless place.
“Get this degree, follow this path, buy a house, stay in one place, don’t do anything too risky, be just like me.”
So many people long for something else and shut the yearning down because “more” (money, time, freedom) is for other people.
I’ve seen poor friends demonize money and rich friends base their happiness on how much they earn. I’ve met famous people who have everything they could ever want and are still searching for something more: maybe if I start giving up some of these houses, they say, I will find peace.
I know both sides and I’m here to tell you: you will never have enough money until you believe that money has nothing to do with your worth.
That elusive golden egg is nothing more than an illusion.
And it’s a tricky illusion because it shows different faces to different people:
Making money is hard.
People with more money are happier.
If I lose this lifestyle, I will be miserable.
If I save x amount, then I will feel rich.
If I have money, I am better than people without money.
People with money are assholes.
There is a limited amount of money and if I take more, I am stealing from others.
No one will pay me to be myself.
I should charge what I’m worth.
I wasn’t born lucky.
It’s powerful, heavy, pervasive stuff. And none of it is true.
Different face, same source: self-worth.
When I started reading money books after my marriage ended, I got so triggered by the suggestion to check my accounts every day and track my receipts. I was worried that I would never again have enough and looking at those things would just be a constant reminder: you don’t have enough. AKA: You aren’t enough.
But I did it anyway, in my own way. I made envelopes and labeled them with words that felt good:Food Creation Love (groceries), Food Experience Love (eating out), Social Love (time out with friends), etc.
I put my receipts into these envelopes week after week and something interesting happened: I spent less but felt like I’d spent more. I started to see where my money was going and what I valued the most. And when I got clear on that, it was really easy to shift money away from things that weren’t filling me up towards things that I craved.
I figured out that it wasn’t “stuff” that filled my cup, but connection and experiences. (Bye, bye, cable. Farewell, void-filling shopping sprees.) And I learned that you could lose money (lots of it) and still be okay. Better than okay.
This was a simple exercise but it created a huge mental shift. It inspired me to look closer. I started paying more attention to my thought patterns, to the words I told myself on a daily basis. And then, one by one, I started changing them.
When I realized that my thoughts had been creating my reality, I changed my thoughts and my reality changed.
All along, rich or poor, I had been sabotaging myself. When you are uncomfortable with money, you find ways to lose it: you spend it, you refuse it, you charge too little, you give your power away to crappy bosses and undeserving partners, you return to your baseline so that you can feel “normal,” even if normal is scraping by.
Once I got friendly and clear with money, more of it started showing up. I learned how to ask for it with more ease. I started getting paid to be myself and do what I love (no beige in sight). The hemorrhaging stopped. The unicorn arrived. It was me, and only me, that had been standing in my own way.
Fuck. And…what a relief.
Money is energy. Nothing more and nothing less. We can receive it with ease and release it with ease. And there is always more.
That may feel absolutely true the first time you say it or, like me, you may feel shame or anger or a whole mixed bag of emotions the first time those words pass your lips.
Keep saying them. They are powerful. They are true. And they apply to more than just money.
What do you think you’re capable of? Can work be easy? Can money be fun? Can you have plenty? Are you worthy even if you don’t bring in a paycheck?
Strike a match in that dark closet (you know the one). Stay in there a while. Listen.
Those fears about money and worth that get unconsciously passed down the line? Question them. Question everything.
Start building something new.
I’m deep into money exploration and want to hear more about you, so here’s what I’m doing: If you want to have a personal pow-wow with me and explore your own money story, I’m offering up 8 thirty minute phone sessions, gratis, to the first takers. Just cause: energy, empowerment, love. Book em through my calendar here. We’ll knock some of those walls down and invite the wealth in. Looking forward to talking to some of you in person. <3
Spots are all filled up! Can’t wait to dive in.
Photo by Sachin Khona.