We walk around with a lot of bad beliefs about money. A big project for me over the past 12 months or so has been to root these out, put them under a microscope and decide whether to accept them or change them. Until or unless you pull these things into consciousness, they have power over you but when you pull them out and consciously acknowledge them, you have choice and power over whether to keep them or discard them and adopt others. I like to share my progress on this blog so that if someone else is going for the same goal, they can benefit from my experiences.
So, let’s start from the top. I wrote this a few weeks ago:
A central claim of many personal development works is that if you want to achieve a goal, think how people who already have that goal, believe what those people believe and take actions like people who already have that goal and you will achieve that goal.
Pretty simple process, though not always easy to implement. My goal lately has been to create multiple passive streams of income, a la 4-Hour Work Week, totaling up to at least $1000/month requiring less than 15 hours a week to maintain and/or grow. There’s been a lot of beliefs, fears and so forth to root out so I’d like to discuss them. A lot of the actions that need to be taken are fairly easy, physically, but to become the kind of person who takes those actions on a consistent manner is hard. That’s what personal development is about, IMO.
I’ve read a lot about money beliefs and the one thing that I’ve been looking for more than anything else is a simple list of the various false beliefs we may have and a list of target beliefs. I have yet to find it and the lists that I have found have not resonated with me. For myself, I’ve never felt that money was evil or the root of all evil, my concerns have been more about how to earn that money, but working or what have you.
A large part of what I’ve done is projected my worst case scenarios and tried to figure out why they affected me. Looking back, I can say that most of the things I was afraid of were people saying things about me, my character and my identity. I’d initially tried to disregard them as being worried what other people might think and low self-confidence. However, I realized that what I was afraid of people saying had to do with my principles. For example, I was afraid that people might say that I failed to deliver what I promised, or portrayed myself as an expert when I did not know it all (I’ve written about this before). I realized that I was really interpreting the imagined threat to mean that I had lied, been deceitful or at least withheld the truth. This was a direct “attack” on my sense of integrity, values and honour and that’s why this imagined threat affected me as such. The solution, I believe is to look to Steve Pavlina. I believe that Steve Pavlina has created a great model of honest, authentic and honourable marketing and I want to learn more about that from him.
I also realized that I was hesitant to promote my work, including this website or a lecture about beating procrastination for students. I also feel incongruent writing about a subject others have covered in a way that I feel is better than I could. At first I misinterpreted this as simply having low self-esteem or low regard for my abilities or performance, but I realized that one of my principles is to do what is best for all involved, or win/win. So, I had trouble really recommending something that I feel is inferior simply because it will create income or benefits for me. Instead of thinking of this as a mistaken perception of my work, I’m now taking it at face value and considering that I really don’t believe my work is very good (it may be average or mediocre) and that it can be improved. For example, I am hesitant to promote my blog on personal development and related issues because I feel that promoting Steve Pavlina’s blog is better for the people who are interested. Perhaps I can promote both. I think that my general honesty is telling me I should be thinking about this.
I realized that I was expecting a lot from paid activities after reading a wonderful book called Your Money or Your Life based on a recommendation by JD over at Get Rich Slowly. You can read an excellent summary of it here. There’s very few books that I go out and buy after reading them from the library, but this is one I will be picking up soon. I generally judge a personal development book based on how many “aha” moments and shifts in thinking I’ve had, and I had a lot with Your Money or Your Life. Gushing aside, I learned an important lesson from this book: paid employment is not all of your “work” in the world. One of the chapters in the book is devoted to pointing out that we expect a lot from our jobs (which I will say means the same as paid employment), including self-expression, a sense of identity, authenticity, fitting in with your values, integrity, respect, recognition, achievement, feeling of power, contentment, absorption, real fulfillment, cooperation, competition and finally, getting paid. The authors point out that these things don’t have to come from paid employment; that you can get those things from things that you do voluntarily such as games, sports, family/community, volunteering, being active in a community, etc. The only thing you don’t get from those is getting paid. I realized that my attempts to create passive streams of income were riddled with the unspoken assumption that my income-producing activities should reflect the kind of person I am, and that they are acts of self-expression so they should be authentic and original, unique and undefinable, creative and growth-oriented. While this isn’t a bad or incorrect way of looking at it, I would rather look at creating these businesses more like doing my laundry. I don’t do my laundry in a crazy unique and original way, I just do my laundry for a specific goal: to have clean clothes. I can think of my muses or businesses the same way, almost as chores. Ironically, if I stop expecting all those things from a job AND to get paid, a lot of inner tension loosens up and my expectations are easier to meet.
Value can be created by just getting people with a need in touch with the way to fulfill that need. Thus, value does not have to be unique, entirely original, and I don’t have to be the very best or original provider of it, but if I was trying to create an artistic or self-expressive work, I might want to do that. Additionally, those things would indeed put me in a fantastic position if I was trying to build a strong market position but they’re not necessary to be in a middle position in the market. I’ve written about this before in greater detail.
Another of my beliefs was that money comes from work and cannot come without work. This is just a belief about my impression of how the world works, rather than a normative belief about what “should” happen. Money actually comes from all sorts of ways, but the most consistently successful manner is to exchange value for money. I realized that if my blog suddenly got, say, 30,000 visitors a month (100-fold increase in traffic, approx.) and started making some decent money without my having to do anything including writing more posts,Â I’d feel really weird just sitting there and accepting the money because I felt I would not be working for it and thus not “deserve” it. Additionally, there was a subconscious fear that’s been around that I’ll become dependent on a source of income and it will dry up and I won’t be able to meet my future needs. I felt that work activity consistently leads to income, so I’m not working, there is no garuntee for the income to continue, but then, there’s no garuntees period. This is simple operant conditioning, conditioned when I’ve worked at a job before and gotten paid, not worked and not gotten paid. I’d assumed business is the same. Making seriously consistent money has to be decoupled from both time and effort and recoupled to value created.
I’ve previously felt that I’d nailed all of my resistence but then discovered a reluctance to move forward, so I don’t know if this time I’ve got it, however, I can feel that the only thing standing between me and moving forward are my fears and excitement over doing something new that I may fail at. One of the ways I’m dealing with the procrastination is to remember that I have only a limited amount of time on this planet and I have no way to tell how long that will be. The next few weeks should be instructive.
- I felt that others may perceive me as unethical, a liar or deceitful in certain ways in providing value directly through a business model, especially in my marketing or my claims. I do believe I can market and conduct a business with honour, but I was afraid that people might still accuse me of that, but I will be the judge of that and I can’t control what other people think or feel.
- I believe in the “highest good for all” involved, so I wasn’t promoting my work really because I didn’t feel it was very good or original. This will push me to do better. I really did feel people will be better off going somewhere else.
- We expect our jobs or careers to give us a lot of things, including a sense of identity, fulfillment and challenge, as well as paying us for it, too. I believe it is more honest to simply accept that real reason for jobs is to get paid, stop expecting all those things from jobs and seek them elsewhere to build a more fulfilling life.
- I recommend reading Your Money or Your Life. Fantastic book.
- I believed that money comes from working, and if there is no work, the money may disappear because there’s no garuntees of getting the money and I will be left penniless, broke, and unable to fulfill my needs. A pervasive fear about a lack of control.
- There may be more beliefs related to making money, but I feel like I’ve tackled a lot of the big ones. The next few weeks will let me know how things are going because my actions and results will change.