"I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really..I was alive."
So, I just finished watching Breaking Bad. The main character, Walter White, made a lot of money by cooking and selling meth instead of finishing out his last days as a struggling, high-school chemistry teacher. Whether or not you agree as to Walter's success, I was really struck by his confession in the last episode. After years of justifying his actions for the "sake of his family", he shared the truth.
Someone posted a comment on facebook the other day and it really reminded me that this post is overdue. The time to write about the exchange of money for time and services is now, as we enter a new year full of reflections on the past and possibility for the future.
Here are some things I've learned about money, the exchange of it, and the change in perspective I've had since becoming an entrepreneur.
I was sitting around the other day being grateful for the number of friends I have who do excellent things and offer great services, many of which I need for more health and happiness in my life.
I have a friend who created an excellent website for me, and we had a ton of fun doing it.
I have another friend who gives incredible massages. Like iron-out-every-kink-in-your-body type of massages.
Another friend makes excellent food. She runs a restaurant. Wait, I have a few friends in that category and I go to their places of business quite often.
My other friend is my barber.
All these people have chosen careers they love so they can pay their bills and have fun doing it. It happens that I need their services so I pay them. So they can pay their bills.
Before I really chose a career I LOVED (as opposed to doing work I was good at), I didn't really take my money or how I spent it very seriously. This realization hit me like a ton of bricks my first year into my business, when I'd been laid off from my 9-5 job. I'd been making really decent money for a non-profit gig (NP folks, I know you hear me) but I was swimming in debt, had absolutely no savings account and was living paycheck to paycheck.
You read that correctly: I was swimming in debt, had no savings and was living paycheck to paycheck.
Was it also a coincidence that my health was a mess? I had chronic sinus infections, was about 25 pounds overweight, struggled with insomnia and was generally a much more miserable person on a daily basis. After becoming a health coach, I was doing my budget one day, something I had never done before, and I realized I'd been pissing away about $700 a month that year on take-out food.
$700. A month. For a year, possibly more.
I wasn't living a life I loved, and it was showing up in my food choices and my money choices. The total lack of self-care was apparent and it was costing me. I had money but was living with no respect for it or myself.
Four years later, I am more financially secure as an entrepreneur than when I had a regular paycheck doing work I wasn't passionate about. I loved it, don't get me wrong, and I was very good at it, but it wasn't what I was MEANT to do. I was settling. I was hiding. And so everything else in my life was a compensation for that. No amount would ever have been enough until I became more conscious of how I spent my time and what I was worth.
When I took the leap to do what I actually want to do, I experienced a shift in taking responsibility for my happiness. Was it a coincidence that my health has never been better and that I decided to come out as transgender? Not at all.
I love being a health coach and speaker. It is hard work but there is no greater satisfaction than when I take stock of the impact I've made in the lives of other people. I'm surrounded by a lot of people who are in the same boat. We respect the work and energy it takes to live our lives like this, so we pay each other so we can keep making our dream lives a reality. These are my most joy-filled friends.
Just having money isn't making me successful. It was the decision to make it on my terms doing work I LOVE that makes me a success. That, and the freedom I feel to pay others for their time because they deserve it and the joy I experience when people pay me for mine so they can have more of what they want. We are loving our lives, we are going after the things we want, we are making the money we need to help ourselves and others live lives free of constraint and full of possibility.
Money won't create success,the freedom to make it will. -Nelson Mandela
Facebook status updates say a lot. I see many, many people who are employed and missing the joy that should come with their paycheck. I spoke with someone on Christmas eve who makes VERY decent money but reached out to a stranger, me, because she was all alone and hated her life in that moment. She feels trapped and isn't doing what she truly loves. The money is not making her feel successful.
Ask yourself what you really want to be doing and if you're using your money to help make it happen. If you don't have what you need, what are you willing to do to get it to live a life you truly love?