Rich Thinking: Money, Work and Self-Worth

Originally published March 12, 2012

Money, Work and Self-Worth

Heart and money

The title of the Careers column in this Saturday’s Globe and Mail Careers caught my eye over brunch: “Money, work and the value of self-worth: If you want financial independence, and recognition for your talents, keep talking about compensation“.

The author, Leah Eichler, acknowledged that, like many women, the topic of compensation makes her uncomfortable, especially when it relates to work she loves.

Eichler’s primary recommendation – one I fully endorse – is that we women need to talk about money, and often, so we do not dismiss its importance. Dismissing the importance of money – even, and perhaps most especially when it comes to work we love, or work that is important to our community – leads to so many other issues and difficulties in a woman’s life, than just her financial independence.

And ultimately they are related too; the core paradigm in the Money Breakthrough Method® is this: “How you do money, is how you do everything”.

Here are 3 Tips:

1.  Be Willing to Talk About Money

When you aren’t willing to discuss money – either in a conversation with your spouse, or a negotiation for salary or your fees – you are signaling a whole lot of information. To others, for sure. And more importantly, to yourself. How you feel and think about yourself can be greatly impacted by the weight of the things that you avoid, or tolerate in your life. Your self-worth is worth, well, a lot.

It never feels good to be underpaid – we know in our hearts this isn’t fair.” Barbara Stewart notes this in her 2011 global research study of 50 women called Rich Thinking: A Global study – A Guide to Building Financial Confidence in Girls and Women.

We know there are a lot of reasons for the continued gender pay gap in the workplace, and here in Canada we have experienced over 20 years of pay equity laws in most provinces (my current home province of British Columbia being a glaring exception) designed to remedy a good portion of that gap. I know these impacted and changed the financial situation of a lot of women and their families – I witnessed it first hand during my ten years as a mediator and chief legal counsel with the Ontario Pay Equity Commission.

And yet, I’ve come to understand how deep the gap goes and that real change must happen in women’s inner lives, as much as outer change in society at large. How you value yourself, and the work you do – even when it’s work you love – impacts how you stand up for your worth, and how you ask others to recognize it too. And talking about money in that regard is one important way you can stand up for your worth.

2.  Aim For 1% Increase

No – I don’t mean aim for a 1% increase in your negotiations. (I know you can do better!)

Apply the 1% Increase Rule here: aim for 1% more courage, tenacity and perseverance with each opportunity to have a conversation about money. Sooner than you think, you will realise you have mastered your discomfort, fear and avoidance of money conversations. Hey, the compound effect works here too.

I believe having money conversations is so important, I included an entire module in the Clear Your Money Clutter program that is devoted to how to have a difficult conversation around money.

3.  Value What You Do, and More Money Will Follow

It’s a very old paradigm that suggested that we shouldn’t get paid a lot for doing what we love; it simply doesn’t fit with our modern western society – where women are increasingly the main breadwinner in their families and two income couples are the norm.

The opposite notion can be equally misleading – that of “Do what you love, and the money will follow”. Do what you love, by all means. And value what you do. Your self-worth will thank you.

Discover how what you do is valuable to others. And find out how that value translates into a monetary value.

And then talk about it.

Learn how to ask for more, how to negotiate, how to charge what you are worth. You know in your heart it will feel good.

So please. Talk about money. Don’t be shy.