Career choice plays a key part in determining the level of happiness we feel. From the time we enter high school, the looming thought of “what will I do when I grow up” hangs like an unshakeable cloud over our psyche. According to some research reports, a large percentage of working adults aren’t happy with their work. However, many stick around because it pays the bills. That’s a pretty sad picture!
If we want to improve the situation, and in turn as parents, to better guide our children in choosing a career path that will make them feel happy and fulfilled, it is important that we examine the role of psychology and understand the symbolic power of money.
Here’re some questions to help you explore and understand your own money psychology:
- Money is ___________________ (fill in the blank with the first thought that come to mind, don’t over think it).
- I wish I can have ______________ in income and _______________ in total wealth. Why? (the why is very important)
- My mother taught me ____________________ about money.
- My father taught me _____________________ about money.
- When I don’t have enough money, I _______________________.
Take some time to write down the answers to these questions, and you may start to see a “money story” emerging. Often times, how you manage your career path is influenced by these “stories” at the subconscious level. Money or your perception of money may have been playing an influential role in your career choices. For example, if you are an employee working in a corporate environment, have you ever felt that you wish you were making more money? If yes, do you know what’s blocking you from achieving that? Is it because you feel you are stuck in the “wrong” job, or is it because you feel you are being underpaid compared to your colleagues? If you are an entrepreneur, do you ever feel embarrassed or guilty when charging for your services?
Here’re a few tips to help you get out of that stuck-ness, shed the guilt of charging for your services, and make conscious financial decisions going forward:
- If you feel “trapped” in your current job, ask yourself:
- “what do I really want to do that is aligned with my values?” Many people are clear about what they don’t want, but they may not have a crystal clear picture of they do want. To find out what you really want, it requires self-reflection and some soul searching moments. So, carve out some quiet and alone time to do just that.
- Are you in the current job purely for the money? If money wasn’t an issue, what would you be doing?
- Be aware of the difference between the nominal value of money and what that money means to you. Money can represent social acceptance. In that context, when you negotiate for a certain amount of salary, understand what that amount represents for you. Will it make you feel you are being treated fairly and equally as others? Or will it help you feel superior over others?
- If you are an entrepreneur and feel embarrassed or guilty about charging, is it because you feel you are not worthy, or is it because you feel in order to genuinely help others, the services should be free? In other words, at the core of your uneasiness with money, is it a self confidence issue or is it a belief issue that making money off of others is morally evil?
- Whether you are working in a corporation or self-employed, if you have a specific career goal in mind, be sure to know the real reason behind it by keep asking “why”.
There are no right or wrong answers. It is important that we do not judge ourselves in this self exploration experience. At the end of this process, you may find yourself embarking on a brand new career, or you may find new appreciation for what you are doing and new ways to improve your financial situation under the existing circumstances. When we fully grasp our own psychology around money and embrace ourselves for who we are, we can then create a life based on our core values and desires.