I’m not a Catholic, a Buddhist rather, but I feel like I need to start this blog as though I were going to confession:
Please forgive me. It’s been five long months in between blogs.
This is what happens when you’re not on a deadline! It’s also what happens when you are trying to find a linear route through a dense and confusing forest of seemingly conflicting paths. Eventually we arrive where we are meant to be long before we make the realisation that we’re there.
If I’m honest with myself another reason for this yawning gap in between blogs (apart from being incredibly busy teaching, freelancing, trying to be a good parent and take my dog for regular walks) relates to money. In the face of paid employment, unpaid efforts took a back burner. Despite my fondness for writing, the fact that no one was/is paying me to do it, caused me to abandon it.
While I was away in Bali on more yoga teacher training last month, the regular column that I’d been writing for two years was cancelled, ironically because of a lack of financing for it. As a result, I stopped writing. I filed my last column a week ago. So not only did the money dry up, but so did my ink well.
I’ve been thinking on this situation a fair bit as I try to reconcile the need for money (cold hard economics) and what I enjoy doing to fill my time. Yoga is my number one passion. I could happily pass my days taking and teaching classes and talking about it until the cows came home. I’d come to think my reasons for writing were purely economical but here I am after five months writing for free. Apparently my well isn’t totally dried up.
Why write without the financial payback? For the pleasure of writing? For the satisfaction of seeing my thoughts jump out of my head and form themselves into words? Yes, both I suppose. So what of the money? Fortunately, I’m not starving and have a sufficient savings buffer to protect me while I try to establish alternative income streams. I’m lucky I guess although one of my friends suggests it’s not luck so much as sheer pragmatism and sensibility that put me in this boat of being able to float financially for a bit longer. This same friend likes to challenge me when my thinking becomes foggy prodding me to decide what I would do if money wasn’t a factor.
The question and very idea of it was so foreign that I couldn’t honestly answer him. I have been so worried about getting ahead, having enough, doing the right thing, pleasing the boss and following the 9-5 herd mentality my whole adult life that I couldn’t allow myself the freedom of imagination or open heartedness to contemplate a path of action unshackled from financial consequences. While I was in Bali I was able to knock through some of these mental roadblocks. I would not say this is a practical reality for me now (working for free) but I can at least answer the question now without that log jam of self limiting thoughts that prevented me from contemplating such a reality.
What would I do if money didn’t matter? Funny enough I would most likely do exactly what I am doing now. I would continue teaching yoga classes and focus on growing my student base. Not for the money but because I know first hand and have seen how yoga helps people to relax, to become more fit and flexible and at peace with themselves.
I would work on fun yoga events, for example leading some low cost community classes to make yoga more accessible to the masses; lead some retreats to exotic destinations and include my kids and boyfriend. I would blog for the heck of it, in the hopes of inspiring others to follow their heart and pursue their passions, or at least discover their passion and try to make themselves happier. I would write on subjects I was passionate about; yoga, well-being, book reviews and money – as it relates to making a better life for oneself. I would focus on being a good mum and try to do a better job of it attending more school and sports events, volunteering and working to ensure they have a fun childhood knowing it’ll be over before I know it. I would also make more space and time for the people I love, friends, family and my partner. There I said it. The honest truth, free of worry.
Money, when you hold it too closely, takes on a distorted role in your life. You get so focussed on the short-term that you lose track of long-term objectives and the fact that money is not a means in and of itself but simply a means to an end. I write about this a fair bit in my book, in chapter one.
Before you go chasing the dollars, conduct an internal stock take. What do you want out of life? Is the life you are living the one you want to live? Do you love your it? If not, why not? Are you with the person who is going to bring out the best in you and vice versa whilst being realistic that you are the author of your own happiness. This is the personal stuff in the world of personal finance and which lays the groundwork for money management. Most of us have the equation all wrong. We think hard work = money = happiness. Instead of happiness + hard work = money.
Of course it’s not always going to be the case that are you blissfully happy, whilst working hard and that money is, as a result, going to fall from the sky. When I was writing my book, it was a hugely stressful time. I had a new puppy (poor timing on my part), a full-time job, two kids to manage and no time to myself for six months. But I got through it in the end and it was/is hugely satisfying to have completed this project.
The part I had to work hard on when it was done was happiness. Working full-time in the city at a desk job was making me miserable. I kept waiting for someone, some thing, some miracle to come along to rescue me from this situation. It finally dawned on me that if I didn’t take matters into my own hands years could go by with me feeling unfulfilled and grinding through the day. So I took a major leap of faith (I was realistic about the money bit) and quit my job so I could do more of what I loved and which made me happy. Yoga. The classes didn’t come immediately but I went from one or two to seven a week within five months. In the process, I fell in love with the most wonderful man, I was made an ambassador to the one retail shop I actually patronise and advocate for (Lululemon), and I tapped into a whole network of inspiring people and friends with similar interests and passions. It’s been a wonderful journey.
Looking back, I wonder why it took me so long to start really believing in myself and chasing my dreams. The excuse I always gave myself was money, time and lack of support. Abundance wasn’t outside my reach, it was within me the whole time. When I realised this, that’s when I started to attract into my life the most amazing people, events and experiences.
So if you are reading this and happened to feel stuck in some way in your life, ask yourself what self limiting beliefs you are clinging to and why. If there is no basis for them (and that’s usually the case) let them go and create space for imagination, dreams and joy in your life.
The truth will set you free and from there the money will start to follow.
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Amanda is a personal finance expert who draws on Eastern wisdom to help you grow your wealth and wellbeing. Money Matters: Get Your Life & $$$ Sorted is published by Penguin Random House.