Steve Wasterval, Worstofall Design
In her famous paper-turned-book, hospice nurse Bronnie Ware shared the top five regrets of the dying that she witnessed over years of being with people at the end of their life. Not surprisingly, wishing they had worked more or made more money didn’t make the cut.
It’s very trendy to talk about how what truly matters in life is connection, people, relationships, community, being true to yourself, and helping your neighbor. I couldn’t agree more.
But there have been some negative consequences to this message: It has made a lot of people feel bad about wanting money. And it has silenced people who need money, who might think they are greedy for wanting to make more.
In my experience, it’s a luxury to focus solely on the beautiful gifts in life and not have to think about money. I know, because for a long time I didn’t have any money and it often felt like money was everything to me.
And that’s why today I want to talk about why money is so important, why it’s OK that it’s important, and how making it important is actually the way to make it unimportant so that you truly can focus on the things that really matter most in life.
When Money Doesn’t Matter
I recently got an email from someone who said they didn’t want to take my bootcamp because I “seem to be all about the money,” and they aren’t. This makes me giggle.
Because I find that creatives (my artist hubby included!) don’t want to talk about the money, ever. In fact, they’re often scared of the money conversation because somewhere deep down, they think that if they want to make money off of their creative services or creative work, it somehow takes away from the work itself.
If they love what they do, then aren’t they being money-grubby by wanting to get paid well for it?
But here’s the thing about money: when you don’t have any money and you live in our capitalist society, it becomes the most important thing. This is true whether you love or loathe capitalism; there’s no getting around the fact that creatives have to make a living, too.
It’s Not Rude to Talk About Money, I Swear
I think back to the time when I was more than $40K in debt. Back then, my whole life was run by money because I didn’t have any of it. I had to make all of my decisions based on money! I had to take clients I didn’t want to work with to get revenue flowing. I took on projects that weren’t a good fit for me because I didn’t have enough work to be choosy. I worked ungodly hours to make enough money to pay my rent. And I spent lots of my precious time, time that I needed to spend building my business, going out of my way to save $1 on a can of beans, or $2 on a bulk package of paper towels.
I barely had enough money to sustain our cheap lifestyle, which made money a central part of my life.
Stop Letting Money Dictate Your Life
Do you know when money stopped making decisions for me? When I had it!
Once I started making good money for my creative work, I could be more selective in taking projects I was excited for, and say no to the rest. I could focus on doing great work for those clients, which was more fulfilling, rather than scrambling to finish projects I didn’t even want to do in the first place. And most importantly, I wasn’t forced to choose spending time with my family or my clients.
Instead of always worrying about where my next client was coming from, or how much we spent on take out this week because we were working so hard we didn’t have time to cook, I spent that mental energy making our business even more valuable for our clients.
It was a win-win for all!
And that’s why I talk about money and profit incessantly: I want each person I help to have more money and profit, so they don’t have to make their decisions based on money anymore.
When you don’t have money, you have every right to make everything about money because you can’t live in our society without it. It’s impossible!
And it’s unfair to people who struggle financially to suggest that thinking money is important is somehow prioritizing the wrong things. Your life decisions will be dictated largely by money when you don’t have enough, and I want to help as many people out of that rut as possible.
To some, money is the biggest priority, but not by choice. It might not buy happiness, but it can solve major issues like getting healthcare, paying for medication, keeping a roof over your head and food on the table, giving your kids a bright future, and a myriad of other things that many of us take for granted. Only when those basic needs are taken care of, do we have the space to seek happiness.
I urge you to be grateful for your health, your family—the things that really matter. But it’s OK to want money, too, so that it doesn’t have to be a huge priority in your life!