Sunday, August 4, 2013

8/5/13—Building a Healthy Relationship With Money

Today's Draw: Pig from the Breath of Night Oracle in the Finances position from the Deck of 1000 Spreads. Would you characterize your relationship with money as "healthy"? Do you put too much unproductive thought into the topic, and too little productive thought? What are you willing to give up in order to have what you want?

Money is one of those things in life that I think we can tend to both think about too much and too little. In the too much column, for example, it's something we worry about having enough of, something we fool ourselves that we have more of than we do and/or something we're consumed with having more of—primarily unproductive thought, imo, in that it's not furthering the relationship along. In something we think too little about column is its function as an energy exchange, the relationship we have with it and what we really want it to do for us—what I consider productive thought.  

From time to time I do have a tendency to think too much about money. But this is an issue I've really worked on in my life. It's rare for me to worry about money...even rarer for me to spend beyond my means. In some regards you'd say I have a healthier than normal relationship with money, complete with certain boundaries, such as "do not spend beyond your means". In some regards, I have a less healthy than normal relationship, because I'm relying heavily on Social Security for my retirement, which I don't think is the most responsible fiscal approach given the health of our nation's finances. In essence, I spend what I earn freely, neither creating debt nor saving on the scale needed for a cushy retirement. 

I think a lot of people put thought into the stuff I just mentioned. But I wonder who thinks of money as an "energy exchange", for example. As a consultant, I put thought in that because I have to determine an hourly rate. Some raise their eyebrows at my hourly rate. Some think I undersell myself. My goal is to hit a sweet spot between the two where I'm expensive enough for you understand the value of my expertise, but affordable enough that mid-size clients appreciate the value I offer in adding to their competitiveness. 

As a result of this, I earn enough to live a comfortable life, but not enough splurge on, for example, a little weekend home in the mountains—something I would really enjoy. Or hiring a maid—something I probably really need. It might be possible to swing one of those things, but not with me spending the way I do and working short days. So the energy exchange thing is about "how much are you worth, what do you want your money most to do, and what are you willing to do to get there—raise rates, work harder, spend less time with family, what?"

Years back I learned a valuable lesson about what I'm willing to do. I had a client that was not treating me well. He was about a third or more of my income, so he was a big presence in my business. I really stressed over whether I should keep him or let him go. The "keep him" side of me was fueled entirely by fear—how would I replace the business if I fired him? Finally I remembered that I had written a vision statement for my business, so I looked it. It included phrases like "doing creative work" and "pursuing my passion" and "being happy at what I do". What it didn't include was anything about money. So I took money out of the decision and the choice became clear. I fired the client. The same week a new client appeared out of nowhere to replace the business. 

I've done this more than once in my 17 years as a freelancer and have never regretted or sweated the choice. I believe the universe rewards those who are constant and true to their vision. I highly recommend writing down a vision statement for your life, your career and your money. Even your relationships. It makes difficult choices much easier. 

Looking around me, I'm not sure many people understand what a powerful force money is. It can be intoxicating. The lure of it can cause you to compromise dreams. And following it can lock you into big mortgages and debt that keep you tied to jobs that suck your soul dry. In American Capitalist society, it's common for people to think this is ok or "just the way things are". As a result, making choices based on dreams is labeled impractical and making choices based on money is labeled practical. And then there's the danger zone where you make choices based on dreams and live like you've made choices based on money. Which isn't to say the two are mutually exclusive—you can absolutely have both—but we all know people who really shouldn't be allowed to make adult decisions...haha. 

Anyway, I tell you all of this because this weekend I was offered what really could be a terribly lucrative partnership. It could parlay into a vacation home and some retirement cash and all of that. I don't even think the risk is all that big, but it would niche me and tie me into a partnership with another (someone I could easily partner with). But I'd have to focus my energies into a direction I'm trying to move my energies slowly away from. And it would mean giving up my practice as I know it, which has a lot of variety and is easy for me, and switch to something with less variety that challenged me more. And paid me more. 

I've been daydreaming about how I could live....and what I would have to sacrifice in order to have it. I've already said no to the situation. Fortunately it's a situation where even saying no is going to result in  more money for me, because my would-be partner is absolutely going to hire me to work for her. I just won't get "a cut of the business"...I'll get my consulting fee. So it's a win-win situation for me if she proceeds. But it did get me thinking. And when I saw the Pig in the Finances position, I thought maybe you might want to think, too. 

The Pig is about abundance, but he's also about uncleanliness. So what is your relationship to money and abundance? And what aspects of uncleanliness or incongruity can you find in the relationship? What do you want from your money and what are you willing to do to get it? Beyond putting a roof over your head and food in your belly, money is only as important as you make it. 

P.S. After writing all of this, I had another thought. There is this idea in the world that you can "have it all". And it's a very dangerous belief, depending on how you define it. People mostly define it as having a great career, making lots of money, raising children, having a full social life, etc. The TRUTH of having it all is that everything you bring into your life means compromising something else. You only have so much capacity of time and energy to devote to things. A dual-income home means less involvement in the life of your children. A career that's a passion or a high-earning job can mean less time devoted to a social life. Anything you give MORE to, comes at the cost of something else that's getting LESS. And, of course, trying to "have it all" usually costs you in terms of the stress it places on you and your family. Non of that is a bad thing, just so long as you're conscious of the tradeoff and fine with it. 

What "having it all" really means is finding the tradeoffs that are the best for you. So what are those for you? For me, my mental state is a priority. So having it all for me has to include heavily weighing the cost of something to my peace of mind. I like to daydream a lot and have a lot of free time. So anything that requires more of my energy comes at a cost to free time. I have to weigh how much that will cost me emotionally, physically and in terms of the things I want to accomplish. So maybe thinking in these terms this week could lead to a life-changing epiphany or reaffirm you're making all the right choices. If you're moved by what a beautiful and fortunate life you have on a regular basis, it may be time for a change. 

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