>> "I'm doing ok, others are much worse off than me"
>> "I can't make money doing what I believe in - and I have to pay the bills"
>> "Money is nothing but an evil expression of the corrupt capitalist paradigm that is fucking up this planet" (or some version thereof)
>> "Making money takes away from others" (The 1% issue)
>> "People don't have any money to pay for ... [help]"
And in all honesty, I've had all these thoughts myself at times. And to a degree it may be true, and you are doing "OK". But there are still consequences of these beliefs, some of them you may not even think about:
-> undercharging for your product or service and not being able to grow your business or NGO and thus, help more people
-> keeping down a full-time job to support yourself while volunteering on weeknights and weekends (which seems like A LOT to handle all at once and you're really doing the volunteering justice - plus, you're burning out)
-> not having any spare money to support any good cause you believe in (imagine donating $5000 instead of $5 each month..)
-> not taking very good care of yourself (doing too much and being overworked, stressed, burnt out)
-> living a lifestyle that does not support your best health or wellbeing (eating unhealthy food, living in cold houses, not accessing the medical or natural health treatments you need etc)
-> Worrying about how to pay the bills, leading to being stressed or irritated which affects your relationships and your parenting
-> Perpetuating the poverty cycle and thus contributing to the system you are actually trying to change (more on this below).
So the question here is this:
Are your money beliefs getting in the way of you achieving your biggest impact, of making your biggest contribution?
And if you could relate to any of the consequences above, the answer is 'yes'.
But here's the good news: Money beliefs can be changed. And in my upcoming post, I will teach you more about how exactly to do that.
But first, let's look a bit more at WHY you might need to change your beliefs. (Note: I'm not asking you to change them now, I'm asking to look at WHY it may be a good idea to do so...._)
1. Put on your own oxygen mask.
If you can't live comfortably and worry-free yourself, it's a lot harder to help others. Not saying it is impossible - plenty of people with very little to give support others with great care and compassion. In fact, plenty of people with very little to give are MORE GENEROUS than those with a lot (go figure!)
However, the reverse is not true at all: if you had more money, it doesn't mean you can't STILL support others. Or that you can't still be generous. It means you can do MORE of it (if you so choose).
It's also true that generally we make shit decisions when under stress - and financial stress is a MASSIVE stressor.
So chances are our world view is somewhat obscured - we may be missing some important things.
Your HEALTH may be impacted. If you haven't got enough money to live in a healthy, warm home, eat healthy organic food and get the medical or alternative health care you need to feel at your best, your ability to help others is going to compromise. A lot of changemakers I know deal with health issues - autoimmune conditions, chronic fatigue, stress-related conditions or conditions made worse by stress.
How much more good could you do if you weren't affected by these health conditions? True, some may be irreversible, but almost all conditions can be improved by good nutrition and support from a variety of practitioners (natural and conventional). Or by taking others stressors out of your life (e.g. hiring help for mundane tasks etc).
Poverty is proven to actually lower our intelligence We are also more likely to PROJECT and therefore proliferate poverty, which means we may miss opportunities for others that are bigger or better just because they escape our poverty-restricted field of vision.
But there's another reason why it's critical to put on your own oxygen mask first: You need to be able to live comfortably, so that you can inspire OTHER PEOPLE (who want to live comfortably) to follow your example.
This has often occurred to me in relation to permaculture. As you might now - I believe permaculture to hold MANY, if not ALL the answers to the worlds predicaments. And when you apply permaculture, you gain an amazing skill: you can be warm, well fed and super-comfy and happy as larry in a shed in the bush somewhere.
The thing is - people don't look at it that way. They think "Look at that poor guy in that leaky roundhouse in the middle of nowhere - does he even shower?" - Which is actually fine, because you don't need to worry about what people think.
Except - you are probably not going to motivate them to do what you are doing - because they think they'll get the same result, which - in their view - is suffering, or lowering their 'status'. And they'll think they don't want that result.
Of course where and how you live is up to you - but chances are people will be more open to your message if they perceive you to be more 'like them' and perceive you to be comfortable - and living on a decent income.
2. You CAN do what you love
Honestly, I could go on about this one for hours... because I so passionately believe that we ALL have something unique we have to share, something that the world truly needs - and is not only willing to pay for, but is CRAVING to pay for.
FINDING that thing is the small part of the challenge.
The bigger challenge is BELIEVING that you can make a comfortable living from what you love - whatever that is. Because if you don't believe it, you can't create it. And you will ONLY create it, if you believe in it.
We have been SO conditioned to believe that 'making money is hard', that is requires 'hard work' and 'sacrifice' and that 'achievements must be earned' - and so on. We struggle to believe that we can make a comfortable living easily and happily.
And we try to console ourselves by adding other believes - that us making money from what we love would take away from others. That money is evil anyway (see below). But it's not the truth.
It''s the lie that is keeping us trapped in the Matrix. If you REALLY think that the world financial system is fucked up - then stop perpetuating it by upholding scarcity thinking. Be subversive.
Do you know ANYONE successfully contributing to a cause you believe in on a big scale? A role model? Any model that allows people to make a living from something you care about? A non-profit? A business? An organisation? - Do your research to find out what is possible - and then create it.
3. Money isn't evil.
Money are coloured pieces of paper with a number on it. Or - much more commonly - numbers on a computer screen. Those numbers don't DO anything. They AREN'T anything. All the meaning they have is created by PEOPLE.
Which means that money is nothing. Not good. Not bad. It is what you make of it.
So what would you do if you suddenly had lots of money? - I'll be the absolute first person to tell you to not go and spend it on useless shit that feeds your ego or allays your fears of not being enough. Forget it because it doesn't work anyway.
Yet, some people seem worried that if they suddenly have lots of money they will increase their consumption. Or somehow make them do other bad things with it. That somehow having lots of money will turn them into 'bad people'.
Truth is, that's not a must - you're still in control. Having more money come in will give you more opportunity to make more choices.
Money is an amplifier. It will amplify bad. It will amplify good. If you want to create lots of change in the world, lots of money will help immensely with that. It's up to you what choices you make.
Donate it. Start a project that improves people's lives. Invest it in a social impact business that will do more and more good as it grows.
Money is an amplifier. Make it amplify good.
4. You are not taking money from anyone by making it. THEY are.
Money is created out of thin air on a daily basis. If you're confused about this watch the movie "Zeitgeist" or "Money as debt" - they are both on YouTube. Yes, it is created in an interest inducing way that proliferates the growth paradigm. But it is certainly not scarce.
We are not facing a shortage of money, we are facing a DISTRIBUTION problem. Which is what lies at the heart of the "1% problem".
So how can you address this issue? - One way is by being Robin Hood. The other is by creating something of true sustainable value that allows money (=energy) to flow your way that channels it AWAY from the 1%.
Are there unethical, exploitative and bullshit ways to make money? - Sure. By selling snake oil, underpaying people or turning precious resources into unnecessary crap that you then force onto people. And people do do that and it sucks. But that's just one option.
But there are also plenty of ways in which you can add genuine, sustainable value to people's lives without pressuring them into stuff they don't want or need (more on this soon).
YOU have a unique gift - we all do. You have something you can contribute to this world that only you can contribute - and something that truly helps other people. Something that people will LOVE to exchange value for, because it truly improves their lives. Something that can be done in a non-exploitative, non-resource consuming way.
And there are plenty of people who can and will afford to access what you have to give, even if they are not part of the 1%.
The truth is: People actually LOVE spending money - and they do so on a HUGE scale, every single day. To think you're 'taking it away' from them is completely overestimating your power. They are GIVING it away. They will spend money whether you like it or not. They will spend money whether you are selling them something or not.
Which means, that if you don't offer them an opportunity to spend it on things that are sustainable and world changing and actually valuable, they will likely spend it on things that are not. Which means more for the 1%. See the problem? It is by creating sustainable alternatives that we channel money away from the problem.
(And by the way - if you are dreaming of a money-free world that's great. All for it. But we are not there yet - and in the meantime, making lots of money will help immensely in promoting and developing the concept. You get my point)
5. Give-aways are not empowering.
This one may be hard to accept, but hear me out.
Never give a man a fish - teach him how to fish.
By giving your time / energy / help / stuff away for free, what you're really telling people is that they can't do anything to help themselves. That they are reliant on hand-outs. And you are creating significance for yourself by being the 'rescuer'. Which helps you, but not them.
By giving stuff away you also reduce your impact. People won't think it's any good or actually helpful. They won't value it. They won't apply it or implement it. They may even start feeling entitled which takes away from their ability to create, problem solve and puts them in a position of dependence.
Everybody has SOMETHING they can contribute. It may not be money. Maybe it's a special skill. Maybe it's something they have they can share. Maybe it's their time or attention.
ALWAYS ask for something in return, for whatever you do. And ask for more than a token - ask for a fair equivalent. If money is not an option, find another medium. Maybe an hour-exchange. Maybe a payment plan.
The biggest contribution you can make is by giving people the opportunity to value themselves enough to make it happen. This will grow their confidence, and empower them to tackle bigger things.