By Christine OKelly | March 18, 2008
Last week I tore through a book that I purchased after Micheal Warner recommended it on his blog. This book “17 Lies That Are Holding You Back and the Truth That will Set You Free,” by Steve Chandler is now on my ‘best books I have ever read in my entire life’ list. This guy has an incredible writing style and is brutally honest about how he has lied to himself over the years.
His book is not some round up article that he just came up with after doing a few hours thinking about lies people probably told themselves. These 17 lies are an examination of the failures and successes of his entire life.
Steve’s book has inspired me to take a look at my own life and think about some of the lies that I’ve been telling myself that have caused me to limit myself – and particularly my income. There are many. If I wrote them all it could probably fill another book. And since my posts are long enough, I’ve decided to focus on the top two lies that kept me broke, lazy, and miserable for a good chunk of my life.
Photo by Leo Reynolds
Lie #1: It Takes Money to Make Money
It might be easier to make money if you have some money to invest. But you don’t need money to make money. You need a damn strong desire to make money. You need to take action to make money. The notion that you ‘need money to make money’ is a lie that I (and almost everyone else) grew up “knowing” for as long as I can remember. This lie stopped me from believing that I could make money outside of a 9-5 job for a long time.
For years I was a moonlighting entrepreneur while I worked my day job. I had a few hundred extra dollars each month to invest in my business which I told myself was not enough. I told myself that I needed an investor to really get the business off the ground. While I was waiting for an investor (though taking no action to actually find one) I spent the few hundred extra dollars I did have per month “preparing” myself and the idea for an imaginary investor.
I squandered the little bit of money I did have on useless things like business cards for a business that didn’t exist, business plan building software, and things to make me feel more organized in my home office. I even squandered an entire week’s worth of vacation time from my day job to stay home and write a business plan and research places to advertise that I could not afford. None of these things I was doing were getting me any closer to actually making money. I believed the lie that it took money (more than I had anyway) to make money, so my brain didn’t allow me to think beyond preparing for an investor.
When I quit my job and moved out to the middle of nowhere with no day job income to squander on useless things – - let alone pay rent or buy food, I learned what it really took to make money. It takes a burning desire to make money. It takes focusing 99% of your energy on taking action on things that will actually make you money, not prepare you for making money. If only I had read the head slapping simple yet wise words of Timothy Coote back then I may have been better off. Tim says: “Do things which make money.” Duh. (Thanks Naomi for introducing me to this post!)
With nothing more than a $100 computer that I bought off of some couple on Craigslist and an internet connection, I started making money freelancing and quickly replaced and then exceeded the income I was earning from my cubicle job. If I didn’t even have a computer or an internet connection, I could have used the computers at the public library to do this. When there was a fire under my a$$ and I had to figure out how to make money with virtually no money or let this lie make me homeless, I figured out a way.
Lie #2: Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness
There are probably many ways to argue this point. But in my opinion, this is a lie and one that I allowed myself to believe for many unhappy years. Whoever said that money doesn’t buy happiness was either broke, or they were a miserable person who won the lottery and allowed the money to magnify their misery. But for the rest of us who are essentially well balanced, I think money can buy happiness because in our society, money can buy security and freedom and those are things that make most people pretty darn happy.
Like the old saying goes, freedom isn’t free. It can be if you want to mooch off of the generosity of others and live without any creature comforts like I did when I hitchhiked across the country and lived in a tent on the beach in Santa Cruz for 6 months. I thought I was free, but I didn’t see that I was completely dependent on the Elm Street Mission’s free weekend dinners, the St. Francis Soup Kitchen’s soup and bread lunches, and the temperate California weather. When a huge storm caused the tide to actually pick our tents up off the sand and soak everything inside during the dead of night, I realized that I wasn’t free and I wasn’t happy.
When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I was b-r-o-k-e. The husband and I were renting a room in a townhouse from a couple of college students in Boulder. We had no car. We had just rolled into town after this long and crazy hitchhiking experience. I had gone from a college student living just outside of Beverly Hills to a free-spirited hitchhiker on vacation with a bit of money in my pocket, to a homeless person who took showers at a homeless shelter and ate donuts out of a donut shop dumpster (they were double bagged!)
Now I was trying to blend back into society, pregnant, with no money, no car, and a broken sense of self worth. I was miserable and certainly depressed. I got an appointment at the local clinic for a counseling session so that they could tell me why I was depressed and give me something to fix it. After hearing my story, the two people listening to my story basically said that I wasn’t clinically depressed. They said that basically my situation just really sucked and that’s why I was depressed.
That was the first time that someone had validated that money could buy happiness. There was nothing wrong with me other than the fact that I had bought into this lie that money couldn’t by happiness and had spent the last year chasing ‘free’ freedom that turned out to be not all that glamorous.
Take a look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
If we want to get past a physiological existence where we live a life of “breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, and excretion,” we’re going to need some money. In our society, we need money to provide a safe comfortable home for our family. We need money to eat decent food that will keep our minds sharp and our bodies healthy. We need money for health insurance and health care. According to Maslow, we need to tackle this ‘Safety’ step before we can ever truly move on to becoming a person of love, esteem, and self actualization.
I started to write lie #3, but then I decided that I didn’t want to. I wanted to stop with these two rather than create a super long drawn out post just for the sake of having 3. Every list article has to have at least 3 things doesn’t it? I think that’s a lie and I’m going to prove it by only writing a post with 2 list items. Instead, I want to hear from you – what lies do you tell/have you told yourself that have held you back in life?
I wanted to give a special thanks to Akemi who gave me the opportunity to do an interview on her blog, Yes to Me. Akemi is a self made chick who overcame plenty of obstacles in order to start her business. She is now a coach for entrepreneurs who want to learn how to take back their lives. Thanks Akemi!