Talking about money makes a lot of people stressed out and upset. This is sad, because ignoring financial problems only makes them worse. Money is the best solution for money problems!
It doesn’t take much to completely change your financial situation. It can be done in a surprisingly short time. The tricky part is that the rules that work at one level don’t even make sense at another level. It’s not so much learning these rules or putting them into practice, it’s believing that they are true.
“What got you here won’t get you there.”
One of the biggest of these is the mindset behind paying off debt. It can be such a major goal for so long. When it happens, though, you never have to worry about paying off debt again. You’ve done it and you’ve learned how to live on less than you earn. Debt will only come back into your life if you fall back on old habits or something unexpected happens. So then what?
If PAY OFF DEBT is no longer your big long-term financial goal, then what is?
When you’re broke, it makes sense to go on an austerity plan and save as much money as possible. I can tell you a lot about that if you haven't already tried it. Renting a room, not owning furniture, riding the bus, skipping meals, clipping coupons and going to the thrift store on half-off day. Delaying everything from medical and dental care to haircuts.
When you rise in your career, though, it actually hurts rather than helps to “save money” in these ways. More and more of your employability revolves around your external appearance. Cut your own hair and wear stuff from the thrift store bins, and you’ll quickly find that less qualified people are moving forward before you. Spend your time bargain shopping and cutting coupons, and maybe you won’t even realize that those hours could have been spent far more strategically.
Most of us don’t learn these things from our families. The financial lessons we learn come from earlier eras, when the economy was different and the rules of the business world were different, too. We can get jobs now in entire fields that did not exist in our parents’ or grandparents’ day.
Get a solid job with a solid employer, work there until retirement, and buy a house as your major investment. Gee, nice work if you can get it!
The major advancements in my household’s financial life have come, more or less, from the EXACT OPPOSITE advice.
Be prepared for your entire industry to change almost overnight as technology advances. Brace yourself for mass layoffs at least once a year and maybe even once a quarter. Constantly learn new things so you don’t get left behind. Stay flexible because your best opportunity may be in a new city, new state, or new country entirely.
We’ve won specifically because we knew we couldn’t bet on any one employer and because we know a home purchase is only worth it if you’re confident you can stay there at least five years. With each move, we’ve done better.
Another thing that holds people back is fixating on one job, giving everything to that employer, and holding a grievance about why they promote the wrong people, make bad decisions, or still haven’t given back the recognition and appreciation that the right people deserve. It’s emotionally the same as staying in a disappointing love relationship out of misplaced loyalty.
The answer for a lot of people is that they’ve outgrown their job long ago. They should have put their emotional attachments toward their friends and family, and their mental focus toward looking elsewhere for professional advancement. Most people only get a raise or promotion when they change jobs.
Most people are in positions where there *are no* opportunities for advancement and *never will be.*
The hardest workers keep picturing how all the problems with their job could be fixed, if only someone would listen. All that energy and drive and ambition and talent is going straight down the drain.
Alphas are often in trouble at work, because we don’t “know our place” and we keep sharing our ideas when that is not seen as appropriate to our role. It comes across as a distraction at best and insubordination at worst. Why can’t you just keep your head down and mop that floor?
Yes, I have been assigned to mop the floor at work. I’m not proud. I’ll probably mop a floor later today. The point is that while I do it, I can still run my mouth and share ideas about how to streamline workflow or improve the bottom line. That is, I can do it for a willing listener.
Or I can pause and realize that if I’m going to mop floors at work, I should do it at my own company.
Why work for someone else who doesn’t get it and never will?
The biggest advantage of a lame, boring, dead-end job is that you can do it competently while bootstrapping your own side venture. If nobody there recognizes you as what you are, if nobody cares that you have more to offer, then they probably won’t even notice that your attention is divided. I’m convinced that at least 95% of the people I supported as an admin wouldn’t even remember my name; I’ve passed former coworkers on the street who clearly didn’t recognize me. We owe them nothing but our 8 hours and basic courtesy.
Following the status quo is not “a move.” Do what’s expected and you get what everyone else is getting, namely debt, chronic financial anxiety, long commutes, and a big question mark where “retirement” is supposed to be.
It’s the willingness to acknowledge risk that allows for big money moves. The truth is that the status quo is inherently extremely, catastrophically risky! Ask around. It isn’t working for most people and they will readily admit it.
Is it risky to relocate for a job, to start a side hustle, to live a radical lifestyle that makes your parents nervous? Of course it is. No riskier than everyday reality, though. Allow yourself to at least consider making major changes, since you can test them emotionally before making those big money moves into reality.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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