The sticky subject of money
Updated: Nov 17
I don't know about you, but money used to scare me.
I received it for work. I spent it on rent, on bills, on food. I paid into some indeterminate pension pot. That was it. I preferred to not think about it.
But when I started thinking about making changes to my career I had to face facts. I had to face the money question.
Because I had the same fears everyone has:
Not being able to pay my bills
Having to start at the bottom of the ladder
Being without a job and having to go back to what I used to do before, and,
Ultimately, becoming homeless and ending up on the street
When you want to make a change in your career money all of a sudden becomes important. And sticking your head in the sand when it comes to money is no longer an option.
Money has the power to keep you frozen just where you are.
Which is why I've been reading up on money, learning about it, and following some money 'gurus'. to learn more about how to deal with the sticky subject of money. (And whilst I was at it getting to grip with my own money blocks and situation, because learning about money never stops).
So here goes, what I've learned about money, especially when you want to change careers.
First of all, let's have a look at your current situation. You've worked, what, 15, 20, 25 years. You've worked hard, worked your way up the ladder, and now you're earning good money. You're not a millionaire, obviously, but you're able to pay the mortgage, the bills and still have enough money left for yourself and the things you'd like to do.
This means that - realistically - you are no longer in the 'survival' zone. You're not going to become homeless overnight, and you will be able to get yourself another job if you had to.
However, whilst this all sounds reasonable you still may feel fear. This may stem from your childhood, from beliefs instilled in you earlier in life.
For you to make a shift, it requires you to take a certain amount of risk.
So, ask yourself, when do I feel safe? What do I need to have in place to not worry when I lose my job? Or start a new company? Or go traveling?
Only when you realise that you are truly OK can you move on, out of the survival trap, out of fear.
2. Money and your identity
Money can sometimes get rolled up into our identity. 'People like me earn money like this'.
You could see money as a measure of success. Of how well you're doing. Of status.
The problem with this is that this attitude will keep you stuck . It gives money more power than it really has.
Because money is just that, money. An energy. Something you exchange for something else. Your services. Your best work.
Why give money such power if it determines what you're doing in your life. If it stops you using your unique strengths?
3. Money and freedom
A lot of people are unhappy in their jobs. Are going in day after day to earn money to afford themselves a lifestyle.
In the beginning of my career I met this colleague. He had worked for the same organisation for 20 years. He told me that 'he only had another 20 years to go before he could retire and start enjoying himself'.
This guy was willing to stay in a job he didn't even moderately enjoy for the occasional two week break and the prospect of retirement.
The problem with this is that you are exchanging a lot of time doing something you don't enjoy for a little bit of leisure time and a retirement a long time in the future.
Freedom is one of the key elements of a fulfilling career. Doing something you don't like is effectively a cage. In exchange for which you receive freedom a long time in the future, yes. But a cage nonetheless. With no guarantee that you get to enjoy that future freedom.
3. Money and your beliefs
A lot of the beliefs you have around money come from your childhood. With the best of intentions your parents, or caregivers, imposed on you beliefs that were meant to keep you safe.
My parents taught me that you had to work really hard for your money. That you had to be a workaholic. And that it was safest to do that in a permanently employed capacity.
It took me years to overcome those beliefs. The step from going from being an employee to being self-employed was huge. Until I was made redundant, and two years later it almost happened again. The second time I left and became self-employed. Because I figured that your 'security' was only as long as your notice period.
What I'm trying to say with this is that you own your beliefs. And you can therefore choose to change them.
I chose to let go of the belief that - in order for me to be safe - I needed a permanent job. It wasn't true. It was keeping me tied to a job and career I no longer wanted. And propelled me toward the career I did want.
4. Money and your attitude
When you read so much about money you are bound to come across the Money Archetypes (google it!). It is a way to identify your attitude towards money. How you act and behave.
And I have to say, it was an eye opener!
There are eight archetypes, ranging from the Accumulator (someone who hoards money and who never can have enough of the stuff in the bank) to the Celebrity (someone who spends money on status symbols). There are eight Archetypes, and your unique combination of Archetypes will give you powerful insight in how you treat money in your life.
Knowing what your archetype is helps you determine what type of action you could (and should) take to stop being fearful around money. Or generally making changes to your attitude on money.
5. Money and your 'escape fund'
The first time I heard of an 'escape fund' was from a friend. She and her friend had started to save to 'one day' escape their current careers. Their 'escape fund'.
It's a sound idea.
At this point you are not clear how you are changing your career. And to what.
You're likely to need money to make a transition. To tide you over if you were to earn less or nothing for a while.
So, starting to save now might make that transition easier.
However, there is a risk that you stay where you are and that your 'escape fund' is never going to be enough. Do your calculations. Agree with yourself how much you need. Start saving. And escape when you said you would.
6. Money and your career change
You will have gathered by now that there are a lot of beliefs and attitudes around money that will determine if you will start making a change to your career.
Everyone has their own beliefs. From their childhood. From their experiences. Rolled up in your status and identity. It's important to face them with an open eye. And see to what extent your beliefs are at odds with what it is that you want to do in your career.
Finally, I want to look at some of the ways that you can look at your money in a different way. Because, if it turns out that you do want to make a career change to a less lucrative (but more meaningful) career you will have to review your money situation. To ensure that you can make that move - and create the life and career you want.
So how can you make changes so that you can afford making the move? By:
Saving - How can you save money allowing you to make the move. whilst still in a job?
Reducing costs - What costs can you cut, so that you can live within your (diminished) means?
Earning on the side - Are there ways in which you can earn money on the side? Could you set up a side hustle? Or create a passive income?
Asking for help - Are there people that can support you financially?
Money is one of the big blockers, stopping you from making a career change.
But there are ways of getting you unstuck, by:
Understanding what role money plays in your decisions
Starting to save for your 'escape fund', even before you've decided what you'd like to do next in your career
Adopting new ways of thinking about money (believe me, it's liberating!), and
Planning financially for your new career and life
Going back to the colleague I told you about:
I decided that that was never going to be me. I wasn't going to get stuck in a job I didn't enjoy for some faraway retirement (which is ever-receding anyway). I prefer freedom IN my career, rather than having to wait for it after a life full of pain.
What are you going to do?
Tineke Tammes is an ICF credentialed Career Coach, who supports professional women in making successful transitions to careers of Freedom, Flexibility and Fulfilment! Besides that she is also a lifelong feminist, part-time portrait artist, never-only-read-one-book-at-any-time reader, and obsessive doodler. Oh, and she knows a bit about change management too.
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