My relationship with money is an ongoing journey. When I had my first career coach, four years ago, she asked me to write a letter to Money. I recently found it and here are the edited highlights!
I wish I didn’t need you in my life. I don’t like needing anyone, I enjoy independence. You bring out the extremes in me. On the one hand I scrimp and save you. And yet sometimes I splurge you. I want more of you, and I don’t want to want more of you. I despise you when you make me feel inadequate. I hate the idea that you give me self-worth. So how do I take our relationship forward?
After this, my coach asked me to write a letter from Money back to me. An amazing idea that never turned into action. In hindsight I wish I had delved in more.
Since the letter, there has been a gradual softening of my approach to money. I am beginning to understand how to unhook self-worth from income and build trust in abundance. Then, on a recent course led by Michelle Allen, a business marketing and mindset coach based in the UK and founder of Infinite Upstart, I had a revelation.
During one exercise I realised I held a belief that people do not make money from their passion projects. It is the “starving artist” image that movies pedal out. As I explored this limiting belief further the reasons became clear, both my parents gave up their love of photography. They studied photography at art college (where they met) and worked as photography assistants in 1960s London for a couple of years. Then they both stopped, mum for reasons of bringing up her family, and dad for moving into a more lucrative, yet unfulfilling career to support his family. Maybe they both could have found a way to continue their desired career, but Life and societal expectations crushed all sparks.
Nowadays, living in a comparison-heavy world forces us more to equate success with income. And yet comparing my financial goalposts with others is futile because there will be so many other variables at play.
Michelle shared that the biggest thing her clients struggle with is trying to move beyond whatever money stories they received growing up. “Sometimes they have strong views about money being bad or wrong. Then they worry about asking people for money, or that they’ll be bad or wrong to get paid for the work they do.” All this resonated, particularly around feeling I don’t deserve to be paid for what I adore doing.
What I do know I am good at is tracking my income and outgoings, to the penny. What I am less good at is predicting what I need. I remember a conversation with my career coach, after writing down all my essential outgoings on flipchart paper sprawled across her office, she asked why I had not included holidays and hobbies. In that moment I suddenly realised I am allowed to call these things necessities! Mindset shifts take time, so even now, when I reverse engineer what I need to charge my clients to sustain my lifestyle, I will work out two final figures, one excluding “luxuries,” and the other including everything that I deserve. Perhaps eventually the figure will be one and the same.
Morgan Housel in his book The Psychology of Money* talks about creating a financial margin of safety (or room for error) to take the heat out of having to predict the future. He says experts who say they can forecast financial markets are simply historians given prophet status. This makes so much sense, and is something we constantly remind our clients, that you cannot predict the future. All money decisions should be made with the caveat that change is the only thing you can be sure of. Housel encourages us to keep the focus on forming our own monetary timeframes and parameters.
*Sidenote: I remain in mild shock that I purchased a book about money. Although it was from a charity shop and cost fifty pence… the irony of investing in my money mindset growth for a tiny price is not lost!
What helped Michelle the most with her own money journey was securing her own coach. She says the speed of her personal development and her business’s growth has grown exponentially. Michelle encourages us to utilise the resources from experts who speak to money as a power for social change. She follows those who consider money as a feminist act and focus on giving back to community to change historical patterns of wealth. Her inspiration comes from her coach Shannon Whaley, who also produces great TikToks on @theshannonwhaley. She also listens to podcasts Wait WTF by Julia Wells, and The Emily Otto Show. I shall be checking all of those out.
And if I were to write a letter to Money today? I would be far more accepting of its place in my life. I would acknowledge that ours is an ongoing complex relationship that deserves love and attention.
What has helped with your money mindset shifts?
More information about Michelle Allen
Facebook Group www.facebook.com/groups/infiniteupstarters /
Instagram @infiniteupstart includes weekly IG Lives on marketing and money mindset
Ali Hendry (she/her), Education Director (Europe), Radiant Coaches Academy
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