Last week we discussed specifically how we can get over our fear that we can never make as much money in a non-law job as we do now as an attorney.
We now know that as we explore and identify and become comfortable with the skills and strengths we have that make up our Unique Genius, we then are in a great position to align with a job whose requirements call for these skills and strengths. This in turn then allows us to take the first step to professional alignment and clarity and happiness.
And we can make good money doing it.
To give this a bit more color and context, I thought today, it might bode well for us to get a handle on what money really is.
A very quick history of money
In short, money is a physical medium of exchange. We people can conveniently, reliably, and securely use money to acquire something (a product, a service, a set of labor, an experience) that we value.
A long, long time ago, before the invention of money (and yes, it was “invented”), our ancestors were mostly traders. They traded things that were useful in themselves with others they ran into or met with. If I had goats and you had baskets, I could trade you some of my goats for some of your baskets.
But what if I didn’t need any baskets? Or we couldn’t agree on how many goats were equal to a certain number of baskets? Or what if my goats were too burdensome and heavy to physically transport to your far away village? Well, then no trade happened.
And what if I needed to borrow some of your goods or services and then pay you back? Some unit of credit was needed.
To solve this issue with barter and to allow for credit, people began to create substitutes to effectuate these exchanges. Salt, peppercorns, beads, shells and later precious metals, served as a medium of exchange. They were lighter, more attractive, more uniform, and could ultimately be minted and regulated by the powers that be. One goat was equal to X beads, or Y gold coins, and so on. Today this has evolved even further into paper and digital forms of money.
And unlike goats and baskets, since there is no inherent value to a bead or shell or gold coin or dollar bill or digital byte, the value it holds is what we put to it. That’s right – money is only valuable because we all agree it’s so. A digital transfer of $100 is worth “more” than a digital transfer of $10 because we all agree it is so.
Money is just an agreed upon way to exchange things that two parties find value in.
And here’s the kicker: It doesn’t really have any value at all except the value that we have collectively assigned to it.
We have so many issues with money.
This history and background on money seems all well and good, but it still doesn’t help solve all of the limiting beliefs many of us have specifically been programmed with around money:
Money is scarce. It doesn’t grow on trees. We need money to be secure. Our self worth is based on how much money we have. Rich people are bad and greedy. We should make enough to pay our bills, but not too much. We’ll never be able to pay back our student loans.
As with anything, if we view money in a certain way, it will be that way.
So with all of this in mind, and as we consider leaving the law, and finding a non-law job that pays a salary that fits our needs, here are 3 new ways to think about money:
1. Money is just a tool we control that helps us exchange value
Believe it or not, money was created to make our lives easier. It’s an invention that works for us. We created it to be able to exchange goods and services for those we like, and to not have to miss out on deals, or have to drag around perishable items or heavy gold coins.
We can think about saving it (which we have always thought of as “good”). And we can think about spending it (which we’ve always been told is “bad”).
But at the end of the day, money is just a tool for us to use.
And this is what is best for us to think about: Money works for us.
This is a major shift for us to realize: We are not controlled by money. We have other goals (happiness, satisfaction, freedom, family, community, charity) and money is a tool we control in order to get to these goals.
Money is not the goal. Money is a tool for us to use to get to the goal.
2. Find ways to reduce our limiting beliefs about money
As we listed above, we often have a lot of not-so-good thoughts about money: It’s hard to get, it’s scarce, it is for the lucky or the cut throat and so on.
But in reality, money is not scarce. It is not hard to get. It is not just for some certain personality type.
Of course this sounds very touchy-feely, but as with anything, our ability to make money begins with the way we think about money. Before we can arrive at a lot of money, we need to have a positive feeling about money in order to attract it to us. If we don’t have a positive feeling, we’ll only continue to repel it.
Let’s be respectful of money, and not fear it. Let’s control our money, and not be controlled by it. Let’s realize that money and wealth is abundant in the world, and not held just by a miserly few. Let’s realize we don’t have to “take” money from anyone else, and that we can create more and more of it by adding value through the application of our Unique Genius.
3. Money is a way for us to have fun and do work through our Unique Genius
What’s great about money is that once it was created, our ancestors could begin to really work on their particular set of skills and strengths and enjoyments, their Unique Genius.
Let’s go back in time for a moment: For many years, in the tribe, everyone pitched in to survive. Everyone hunted and tended the camp and raised the kids and foraged for food. While there emerged a division of duty, for the most part, everyone was focused on one thing: Surviving, which meant finding the basics of food, water and safe shelter.
But once money was invented, everyone didn’t need to do these basic things in order to survive. If someone was creative and wanted to make rugs or jewelry or baskets, or if someone was interpersonal and would rather tell stories or act, they could do so … because each of these people knew they didn’t need to hunt or forage or find shelter on their own.
Instead, they could trade what they did well (rugs, jewelry, baskets, stories) for meat or water or shelter, or could sell what they created for money and then go and buy what they needed in order to survive.
Without money, we have a lot less of a chance to explore our Unique Genius. Without money, we’re only intent on surviving.
With money, we can do so much more. We can stoke our Unique Genius. We can be creative, and interpersonal and valuable and helpful … and still provide the basics and more for ourselves and our families.
Let’s celebrate money – it enables us the space and time to find our true selves.
As we leave the law, the “money conversation” is usually fraught with anxiety. That’s understandable, as we’ve been programed that way. But it doesn’t need to remain that way.
Let’s remember that as we leave the law, money is just a tool that is in wide abundance for us to use for our ultimate goal, happiness.