Why Your Story About Money is Making You Feel Unfulfilled

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Why Your Story About Money is Making You Unfulfilled

Episode 64

More money, more problems. No money, more problems. Money, problems, enough, not enough.

Since it’s nearly impossible to have a conversation about career fulfillment without discussing money, I felt it was time to dive right in today.

Today I’m sharing some perspectives that I hope will help you view money and career in a new way.


Your Story About Money vs Money

Let’s begin by talking about the difference between your story and money.

Every single one of us is walking around with a story about money that feels true and useful, but are not inherently true and may not be all that useful.

Trying to fix how much money you have, how much you’re spending, etc without questioning your story about money is never going to solve your problems. It’s essentially shadowboxing. So many of us spend our time throwing punches at phantoms that are not truly there. Phantoms that truly only appear because we are projecting them with our minds. 

My clients who are in the midst of a career change often say things like:

“I can’t leave [this industry] because I make so much money and I need that much money to maintain my lifestyle and be happy.” 

“I feel so torn and unsure because I can’t start a business, even though I want to and I need to make this much money.”

Yes, we have real bills to pay. But when clients or potential clients share their financial conundrums with me, we’re very rarely speaking about the bills that are on the line here. We’re talking about their sense of comfort and safety that they equate with a particular dollar amount, that is either at or above how much they earn in that moment, never less.

For folks who are reading this, debating about making a career change and are rightfully afraid to do so because they are afraid of not making as much money as they currently are, I ask you: What is your story about money?

It’s the not the circumstances of how much you’re earning that’s going to dictate how to navigate this season of change. It’s not a matter of making 6 figures or 20 figures. The issue is not about the money itself, it’s about your perception of what you believe you need to feel safe, happy, and thriving. 

You know that question that gets tossed around sometimes, “If money were no object what would you do”? Well money is no object. We all have financial obligations and responsibilities, but it’s not money itself that determines how we want to feel about meeting these obligations, it’s our story.

I would like to rephrase the question: “Since money is not the real issue here, what is?” 

“What do I believe I need to be safe, happy, and thriving?”

“Why is it so hard for me to sacrifice a bit of safety and happiness to create a difference career for myself?”

Let’s all question our story about money if we want to create fulfillment in our careers and lives.

The Myth of Financial Freedom

Our story about money is vital because it colors the very values we base our careers on.

 The other day I was doing a values exercise I created. In a part of the exercise, you list some things you want and why you want them to start to uncover what values are important for this season of life.One of the things on my list of “wants” was more money and the reason I wanted more money was for financial freedom.

Of course, my brain got curious and I started to unpack what “financial freedom” means to me. I started investigating my story of “financial freedom.” My story of financial freedom was “feeling unencumbered by money.” Sounds lovely doesn’t it? Of course it does because it’s mythical.

What would it reasonably take to never feel encumbered by money? To never feel like there isn’t enough? Would it take more money, because even then there will be things you want that you can’t afford? Would it take being perfectly Zen about money and never wanting a thing, because that’s impossible. Human beings are hardwired to want. To want inherently assumes you do not have it.

So is financial freedom a fairy tale? A fairy tale that sounds reasonable but just creates more misery and suffering than anyone truly needs. 

I know this sounds negative, but I truly think we could make peace with money if we let go of the myth of financial freedom. I’m not saying run up your credit cards. What I am saying is the idea that I would ever be able to go through my life without having to make hard decisions about money is not only unrealistic, but dangerous. Shooting for perfection means I will always be met with disappointment.

Once I realized I was setting myself up for misery by trying to make financial freedom a value, I shifted my views. Now my value is not financial freedom but perspective. I define the value of perspective as “a spirit of moderation and clear-mindedness about my desires and needs.” Instead of struggling to make my life circumstances be about financial freedom (aka financial perfection), I want to consciously choose perspective. I choose to recognize that friction will always be there and I get to decide, moment by moment, if I want to fight with the friction or accept it.

I can’t decide for you if financial freedom feels like a healthy value or if it feels like an albatross around your neck. I just offer my story and perspectives to see if they feel like a fit for you.

Since I just poo-pooed on the idea that our issues with money can be solved by money and that financial freedom is realistic, what is a more productive way to be in relationship with money?

I think the best thing we could do for ourselves financially is what I find to be more beneficial spiritually: question our thoughts about money.

Our issue with money is not caused by money, it’s caused by our beliefs about money. If you want to be at peace with the money available to you right now, you have to let your thoughts about money go. I know it is easier said than done. But that does not mean it should not be done. 

  • Every single time you feel like there is a set amount of money that you must always earn to be happy, question that belief.

  • Every time you lament not making enough money, question that belief.

  • Every time you tell yourself your career must allow you to earn x amount in 5 years or else, question that belief.

The story we tell ourselves is the story we live out. If you’re unsatisfied with the way you’re living, don’t punch at the things, people, and circumstances around you; question your beliefs.

intro and outro music: danosongs.com

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Danielle Callendar