Words by Paula Coogan
November 1st, 2018
A lot of the time, when clients come to me looking to explore career satisfaction and aspirations, what we end up digging deep into is their relationship with the money they earn. So, for this article, I want to dig deep into it with you because it’s the topic that keeps coming up again and again with my clients and for myself personally!
We all have a relationship with money and having a healthy relationship with it is just like any other relationship. We break up, we kiss and make-up, we can be neglectful, we can lust after it, we get so mad and frustrated, we fall head over heels, we’re wooed and are smitten. We can be impulsive, we can be cautious, we feel unworthy and undeserving and push it away. We can be blinded by it. We have our ups and downs! But, ultimately, we want to live happily ever after with our money and like all relationships, it takes love and attention to do that!
Money is an emotive topic so if this article triggers you, get curious about it!
Your relationship with money really is an intimate relationship and one that perhaps you’ve been neglecting. Or perhaps you feel it’s the other way around, that money has been neglecting you or even abusive and causing you to play small in life. Perhaps you feel that money doesn’t care about you at all and forgets you even exist! Perhaps you wish you didn’t have to deal with it and find it incredibly hard to even talk about. Trust me though, regardless of where you are, this relationship can be salvaged and, in fact, you can turn this around into a caring and loving partnership.
I had a major realisation this morning (what us coaches call an ‘aha!’ moment); the relationship I used to have with money reminded me of relationships I had with exes. It was neglectful, undervalued, dramatic and dysfunctional. Now, I have been working on my money relationship for a few years and it is improving, but if I’m honest I still have a lot of work to do! How about you? Does your relationship with money mirror other relationship histories? Do you ask for more money in work or do you squirm and avoid the topic, hoping that your boss will see how wonderful you are and decide to bestow an extra 5k on you? If you’re self-employed, how do you feel about telling people what you charge?
Money is essentially an exchange of value. In life, there are transactions in which we exchange money in return for value. That value may be clothes, holidays, a home, a pair of boots, a smoothie, bin collection etc. We earn money in return for value. We provide a service or our time, a particular value is placed on that service/time and money is exchanged for it.
So, if we don’t value ourselves or tell ourselves we’re not good enough, not worthy enough, then we undervalue ourselves and the exchange of money is reduced. Think about it: performance appraisals, interviews, negotiations…any time that you had to talk about the value you add, did you own it? Did you claim your own value or did you play it down?
In personal relationships, it took me a long time for me to realise that it was OK and safe for me to have a healthy, nurturing, respectful relationship. It wasn’t what I was used to. When Colm, my husband, opened the car door open for me when we were first dating, I thought he was a weirdo! Every single time, he would hold it open, wait for me to get in and then walk around to his side. Then, I would lean over and open the door for him. We still do this 8 years later and my friends laugh about it but really it was a baby step for me in learning how to have a more respectful relationship and it stuck with me.
Anyways, back to money! It is possible and more than OK for you to learn how to fall in love with money! Imagine that, a relationship with money that is full of love, respect and is caring. Here’s what to do.
Identify the characteristics of your current relationship with money and ask yourself:
Is the relationship neglected, respectful, dangerous, loving, thrilling, fun, abusive, nurturing…?
Who are you in the relationship you have with money?
Are you dismissive? Are you careless? Are you nurturing, disrespectful, jealous, obsessive, caring, clingy? Don’t worry about what your current reality is because once we’re aware, we can start to make changes.
What is your all-time favourite love story?
If you had to pick the most romantic or the best movie relationship, something that inspires you, what would it be? Perhaps you’d choose The Notebook, or one of the couples in Love Actually, or perhaps Notting Hill or Pretty Woman, maybe even Mamma Mia! Have a good think about it. Look through your favourite movies. Personally, I would choose Ever After with Drew Barrymore- it’s a Cinderella story but one where she rescues herself!
How would you describe the relationship the characters have? So, for example, is it exciting and sexy? Is it romantic and respectful? Is it empowered and enduring or loyal and stable? Is it romantic and loving?
If you were to merge your love story and your money, describe what your relationship with money would be like. How would you know you were valued? How would you feel spending money on you? Who would you be in this new relationship? How would you show up and let money know you cared? How would you expect it to treat you? How would you feel every day?
This is all for you to ponder! Answer the questions and really give them some thought because sometimes looking at something from a new perspective can lead to massive change. So, for now, please remember that it’s more than OK for you to have an amazing money relationship, it’s OK for you to feel supported! But remember that you are responsible for what you bring to the relationship; you can’t be neglectful and then resent it because it’s never there when you need it! Remember this in relation to your work- if you’re short of cash, consider whether you or not you are undervaluing yourself and if so, then it’s your responsibility to do the work to build up your own confidence and self-esteem. You’ve got this! xx
Paula Coogan is the founder of The Quarter Life Coach – a vibrant career and life coaching company aimed at empowering women in their 20s and 30s to practice courage, figure out their true desires both personally and professionally and then, to make it happen.
Her work is delivered through several live group programs and Masterminds including Career Breakthrough Mastermind and The Wisdom Circle. She also works one-on-one with clients who are ready for big transitions in their relationships, careers and businesses.
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