Lately I have been considering self-worth. How much am I worth? This consideration moves beyond intrinsic values and perceptions and beliefs about my character, it also encompasses my financial net worth. How much should I be paid for services? In May into June of this year, I have experienced job interviews and job applications and salary negotiations and questionnaires that required me to answer this question. How much am I worth? And for the first time since I have been working as a professional researcher and writer, I was confident in offering a figure for how much I am worth. This felt good. This self-awareness of my value as a worker and what I have to offer took me some time to achieve but I am grateful for the journey and I am happy with where I am now.
Placing a monetary value on my work as a writer, researcher, content creator and editor has often made me uncomfortable. In the past, I have been more than willing to allow whomever I was going to be working with, make me an offer, rather for me to initiate any conversation about compensation. And then of course, I never negotiated. I simply said “thank you” and started the project. Looking back I can clearly see where this has not served my best interest. I can recall quite a few freelance writing and research projects that have taken far more of my time and resources than I have been paid for. Essentially, I worked for less than I am valued.
Last week, I started reading Nancy Levin’s self-help meets financial wellness book, Worthy: Boost Your Self-Worth to Grow Your Net Worth. Levin identifies ten steps towards to life of high self-worth, high net worth and financial ease. The book’s focus is on feelings of guilt, regret, worthlessness, and low self-esteem, dependency and even generational cycles of poor money management.
Now I haven’t completed the book, so far I am at Step Two, admit who holds the purse strings. But what I found was really eye opening. From the first three exercises that I did, I was shown how certain negative money habits and negative self-talk and feelings of sadness, regret and even anger have led me towards making poor decision. These are aspects of my life that I am not proud of but I have been vaguely aware of for some time. I have had in some blinders on when it came to my finances. Despite this awareness I have not fully tackled all these problems and this is what I am working towards.
Since March of this year, I have been on a personal austerity plan, where I only focus on my needs, while I do my best to clear my debts.
At first, my primary focus was finding ways to make more money so I can pay off all that owe quickly. In February and March I was keen on getting part time jobs or freelancing so that I can earn more. Slowly, I am releasing the need to instantly say yes to what appears to be an opportunity. I am now willing to take my time to fully consider how much time or work I would have to put into a project. This is something I am very keen on developing as an integral part of work process.
So far, I have seen some results and in time I do believe that I will be debt free. But it takes time. And it is hard. While, I know what my end goal is and I am committed to this course of action for the remainder of 2016, I often have moments where I do still berate myself. Time and time again I get angry at myself for getting into this financial mess in the first place. This constant back and forth is truly useless. The negative self-talk and self-loathing is draining. The feelings of regret do not help to resolve the problem. In fact it only makes it worse.
So far in charting a way forward that is debt-free and filled with hopes of financial ease these actions make a difference:
- Careful planning
- Setting reasonable and manageable goals
- Checking credit and financial statements and knowing how much is owed
- Paying credit cards bills on time
- Paying all bills as soon as they come in
- Tracking spending
- Making shopping lists and meal plans (and sticking to them)
- Firmly committing to not use credit cards
- Saving a percentage of monthly earnings in a dedicated savings account
- Being patient during the transition
It is also helps to have an accountability partner. However, it is possible to change for ourselves completely on our own. I believe it is possible to transform our lives if we commit to making small consistent changes, learning, growing and being gentle with ourselves while we work towards a better life.