Money Matters? An Evolving Relationship For Your Career Journey
What is your relationship with money?
Like every relationship is ‘ideally’ meant to last a lifetime, I say, realistically my relationship with money is evolving over a lifetime.
Money is our everyday reality and there is no denying that. It is, unfortunately (or fortunately) at the very center of our living. And to top it all, money is also a highly emotional subject for most of us, i.e. for all those who are honest with themselves. That’s exactly why the incredible guests on my podcast The Attitude Makeover (do check out all the episodes if you haven’t already!) were the reason for me to get drawn to this concept? As an ending note on my podcast episodes, I always ask my guests to give their hot take on their relationship with money. Not only did their diverse descriptions make me think about where I stand, but they were also a reaffirmation of the fact that our relationship with money is as personal and unique as our career journeys.
“This is what MY money looks like.”
Before we move into known territories, elaborate on the aforementioned statement from a personal POV. Cue: How do you feel about money? What emotions come up for you when the topic of money comes up? Do you have a pattern of recurring thoughts that arise when you interact with money?
There are so many - Culture, religion, gender, family, childhood upbringing, and education all play an important role in how you relate to money. Turning to your childhood can be a great way to understand your current relationship with money. As our brains are doing the bulk of their development before the age of seven, it's no surprise that research has found that our outlook on money, including money habits, is primarily set by the time we turn seven.
Once we’ve established this, it is obvious that since our childhood and subsequent life experiences are all varied and distinct, so is our worldview around money. Basically, in context: to each their own. But from my personal understanding, there are FOUR CENTRAL ASPECTS that form a universal base for our thoughts, opinions, personality, and overall relationships when it comes to money. And here we go…
To make it simpler, some major emotions in relation to money - Power, safety, security, and pleasure. As it applies to all things, clarity on emotions comes from thorough self-reflection of one’s own experiences and the same is true for money. Now, it’s your turn: Identify the emotions that you relate to money.
As clear-cut and simple as the maths behind money may seem, we can't escape the fact that we all have a personal, emotional relationship with money. And the resulting emotions influence aspects of our personal lives: from the health of our love to the stability of our home, and which career choices we make. This leads us to central aspect number two…
Emotions are established, now what does that make us do? Behave/act a certain way in every area of our life - and that’s where career ranks high on top of that list.
It’s said that how you associate with money has a bearing on your behaviour way more than you (dare to) acknowledge. This is true of everyone and I agree. Worrier or carefree, frugal or extravagant, wealthy or not, our personality also affects the way we all deal with and think about money. Career choices need not be primarily and entirely based upon behaviour towards money. However, it is definitely in relation to it. And I’m sure most of you would be able to relate to this.
Self-awareness is a valuable tool with respect to money. Because our versions of success with money aren’t about knowledge, IQ or how good you are at maths. It’s about behaviour. Once you become aware of your tendencies, you can harness the power of your own mind. Then what comes next? At number three, we’ve got…
You may be wondering what exactly are money boundaries. Put simply, they are rules you set in place to balance the relationship between your finances and yourself (and by extension, your partner/loved ones.)
Our financial habits, in my opinion, are primarily built to give us an outline of do’s and don’ts and help us establish our pros and cons list as I’d like to put it. In some cases, these financial boundaries are those you set for yourself. In other cases, they might be boundaries you set between yourself and others (which involve will and communication.)
As a professional, a better understanding of your relationship with money is critical to making the choices most compatible with your career and personal financial goals. Ultimately, the boundaries you draw are based on overarching principles that hold good across all areas of your life.
This fourth part has been an addition to my existing thoughts about my relationship with money. Similarly, this dimension has to be made as a deliberate addition by you as well. Hence the name: deliberate, meaningful, and cognizant action.
After we regularly and purposefully take stock and track our behaviours, and set our boundaries, then what’s next? It’s time (and about time) to change our money-related patterns that have been going on in loops. What does this do? Improves our individual relationship, yes. It also gives us space to feel safe and in control of our money with achievable actions.
While we all have a different relationship with money, it is possible for everyone to take some steps toward having a more secure and balanced one in relation to ourselves, our partners, and our family. Take time to identify your goals — and get very specific. This is one way to recognise the actions you need to take is to establish incentives that will motivate you to meet your goals. I’m making a start on this and you should too.
It could be simple budgeting or communicating with those who are associated with your money or your money goals. There is no small or big action when it comes to what you can do, and remember to never sell yourself short. Small changes can lead to big improvements!
Making Financial Intimacy a real thing
Beyond just the notion of conflicts, money can actually bring people closer, be it you to your parents, friends and especially your partner! Not only can honest conversations with those concerned make your money mindset simpler, but it also makes a world of difference when it comes to planning short-term career goals and long-term finances with certain non-negotiable boundaries.
It’s fair enough for you to think that “I know the talk is important but it’s easily possible when two people have the same lived experience or wavelength about money.” My partner and I have very different experiences and notions about money, they fall quite far apart on the spectrum. So, the same wavelength is not so important when you are on the same page.
EMOTIONS + BEHAVIOURS + BOUNDARIES = A balance that defines your relationship with money. This means our relationships with money are as complex as we are.
It’s casually thrown around way too much that “money is what you make of it.” But I’ll tell you what: You first define, perceive, and relate to money on your own terms. Then you move to make it, and then make meaning out of it. Money matters. Yes. And it makes purpose and priorities clear.
I’m not here to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do with your money, and where to place it on your focus point. You are the expert on what your relationship with money is, and how you want to do the related career-life mixology to successfully combine impact and income. You got this, my friend!
Here’s what I leave you with: A starting point. A self-assessment activity to explore the dimensions of your personal relationship with money. To understand how it has impacted your previous career choices, and how it can lead you to take purposeful action moving forward. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the activity and money mindset on the whole.