To have a truly fulfilling life — one where we can express our highest talents in service of important needs in the world — we don’t need “more” money.
We need to be clear that ever-increasing accumulation of money is not a sustainable definition of success.
We don’t need to compete with our peers, or chase our business gurus’ lifestyles.
What we need is our own definition of enough.
Enough to meet our needs, and if we can lessen our needs and still be happy, even better for the planet.
(And we need enough savings to support us during the years when we can no longer work… more about that below.)
We need enough to allow us to do our highest work.
Most of my adult life I haven’t had much money. That changed when my business started doing very well a few years ago… I was making a lot of money, but I still didn’t feel like I had enough.
Today, I make 3x less than I did a few years ago, by choice.
Yet, I am grateful to feel more “enoughness” today than ever before.
Part of that is the daily practice of Gratitude.
Part of that is daily prayer to stay in touch with divine Source — to remember — to deeply feel, and know, that no matter what, You and I are forever taken care of. We are comprehensively loved. We are on an inevitable path to ultimate Goodness. No mistake can change that.
And yet, we are called in this life to practice the intelligence we’ve been given, and to learn self-control (to let the Self manage the self). Money is a very useful area of life for this kind of practice.
This is why we all have to deal with it.
There are some very practical things I’ve done to create financial security. This post could be as long as a book (and perhaps one day it will be) but I hope that in this article, to inspire and instruct with a few practices, and open up a supportive discussion in the comments below.
Take a look at the following Tasks and Habits. I recommend that you gradually, one-by-one, implement them into your life.
Task 1: Become clear about how much money you actually need monthly.
What’s the average amount you spend each month?
To come up with this number, look back your total spending the last 12 months and divide by 12 to get an average monthly spend.
If you don’t know how much money you regularly spend, how do you know how much is enough for you? It is important to know this number by heart.
There are tools you can use for this. Here are the 2 I recommend you look into:
www.Mint.com (a free tool that I’ve been using to manage my money for more than 5 years.)
www.YouNeedABudget.com (I haven’t tried this yet but those I know who use it like it better than Mint.)
Either tool above will download your bank and credit card statements, and give you an analysis of where your money is going.
Task 2: Set up your financial buffers.
Besides being clear about your monthly spending, you also need to get clear about your “buffers” in order to have a sense of financial security.
Most people don’t do this, which is a big reason why they continually feel financially insecure.
An important part of these buffers is your retirement savings.
A quick word about “retirement”…
Statistically, your health is more likely to decline once you retire.
Instead of aiming to cash out and live on the beach, it is better to continually (all throughout your life) aim for more meaningful work. Keep working — serving the world with more and more of your strengths — as long as you possibly can.
This will create a more fulfilling life than trying to “stop” working.
I’m planning to work — to keep serving you all! — until I cannot physically/mentally do so. Making a positive difference through my business, and finding creative ways to keep improving, is deeply meaningful for me.
However, the physical reality of our bodies means there will be years when we cannot work. This is why retirement savings is important.
Task 3: Get clear about how much you need to charge.
Once you get clear on how much you need each month, you may need to modify how much you’re charging for your services.
For some of you reading this, it means increasing your rates. That can be a scary thing to do…
If you do the 3 tasks above, you will gradually find yourself doing better financially than most people. (Then hopefully you can help them set up better finances too!)
Now, it’s time to institute some helpful money habits into your life.
I’ll give you just 3 basic ones:
Habit 1: Look at your finances regularly.
I prefer to think about my money once a month. For an hour a month, I do the following:
— Transfer enough money from my Business Checking account (where my business income arrives) to my Personal Checking account so that the next month’s bills can be paid on time. How much to transfer? The amount I spend monthly (see Task #1 above) with a bit of buffer just in case of variations.
— Save a percentage of the previous month’s income for taxes.
— If any of my financial buffers are not full, put some money in them. Make a bit of progress… any is better than none.
— Put money into your retirement savings (you will have a monthly goal, if you did Task #3 above.)
— Ask: “what’s one thing I can do to spend less and still fulfill my true needs?” I don’t often have an immediate answer, but asking that question gets my subconscious working to create a solution over the next few weeks. Spending money is an effort to fill some external or internal need. Most of us can be wiser about how we spend.
Once I finish thinking about money this one hour, I don’t have to worry about it the rest of the month.
Many people worry about money all the time. That is a constant, energetic leak. By doing the 3 Tasks and the Habit above, I’ve plugged up those “leaks” and shored up a lot more energy to be creative in my business, to think more clearly, to be more generous and caring in my business and life.
Note: If you find yourself consistently spending more than you want to, I suggest spending 5 minutes a day to categorize your expenses using Mint.com orYouNeedABudget.com. This will sharpen your money consciousness, and eventually you won’t need to look at your money that often.
By paying regular brief attention to your spending you’ll naturally be more careful about it.
Live simply in terms of external stuff and spendings. Aim to live deeply and joyfully via a rich inner life (spiritual practice, reading for fun, time in nature), and friendships! The best things in life truly are free.
Habit 2: Continually observe and align your skills with what the market is paying for.
Oftentimes this means describing what you do in a way that is relevant for the right people. Whom do you best help with your service? Of all the problems your service helps them solve, what feels most urgent and important to them?
Focus your marketing on talking about those things.
To “follow your passion” is a wonderful thing, and it helps you stick with an activity for the long term. However, “your passion” might not be what the market wants to pay for. If it were that easy, everyone would already have paying work that they love.
Always remember: money comes from other people. It doesn’t come from you playing victim and wondering why people don’t give you enough money.
If you want enough money, you need to do things for other people that they find valuable enough (and are accustomed enough) to pay money for it.
If you have a unique service that few people have heard of and you cannot find enough people who would take the risk to pay for something so unique… you won’t have enough money.
If however you get to know your audience’s problems and goals, so that you can describe what you do in a way that they clearly understand how it solves a problem they have been thinking a lot about, or reaches a goal they feel urgent and important to reach, they’re likely to pay you for it.
Especially if your service is similar to another service they have already bought, or know other people who have bought a similar service. In other words, if you can frame your service as a better alternative to something they are spending (or have spent) money on, you will have a much easier time marketing your service.
Sometimes, you try many different ways of describing your service but it’s still not interesting enough for people. In that case it may be time for you to offer something different.
This habit is about continually — at least quarterly — revisiting your offering and asking:
“What is the universe telling me, through the market, about what I should be offering?”
Habit 3: Become smarter about how you use your time.
Chances are, you are spending time — during the hours you’re supposed to be working on your business — doing things that aren’t productive.
Maybe you spend a lot of time consuming content but not taking action.
Maybe out of compassion you spend a lot of time helping people for free — taking a “quick” phone call to help a colleague or audience member, or responding to other people’s social media postings. Compassion is a wonderful thing, but for it to be effective, it needs to be disciplined.
It’s not about giving less to others. It’s about giving more effectively: in a way that allows you to thrive, uses your best gifts in the highest leveraged way so others can be most helped.
If you’re curious about how I plan my time, check out this template.
And remember to manage your trances!
I truly hope this post has given you some ideas that you are inspired to implement. If you apply these teachings, it can dramatically improve your relationship with money, your ability to acquire it, and to keep enough of it.
Here is one final, important idea for you:
All along the way… as you do the things outlined above… remember to live your life, pay attention to its moments. Don’t just live for the results or the end vision. Savor the process!
George Kao is a marketing & business mentor for Coaches, Consultants, and Counselors, and focuses on authentic marketing & joyful productivity.
George has been coaching and mentoring, full time, for 7 years and has served over 1,000 students and clients in his coaching programs.
He now loves giving away his training and content for free.
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