money vs hapiness

How to Talk to Your Future Self

???????A few months ago I was feeling anxious about money and not sure if I should continue focusing on my writing career. I opened a random page of a notebook by my bed and wrote: “Tracy’s Patterns: As soon as you get somewhere with your writing you start panicking about money, and distract yourself with odd jobs and job searches.” I felt better as soon as I wrote this, and closed the notebook to return to my writing.  And forgot about it.

I am weeks, maybe days, from finishing the second draft of my novel. Just as I was on an incredible wave of momentum, I crashed into wall of anxiety. I’m going to go broke writing this stupid thing that no one will ever read. I’m almost 30, I should have a real job. It went on and on, but I won’t bore you with the details because if you are pursuing something creative, you’ve probably had all the same thoughts. I decided to end all this anxiety once and for all and start the never-ending job search again.

The next day I was cleaning up my apartment and I found a notebook that I rarely use. I opened to a random page and there it was in writing : “As soon as you get somewhere with your writing you start panicking about money, and distract yourself with odd jobs and job searches.” I nearly dropped the book on the floor. I had completely forgotten I wrote those words. It felt like I had paid a genius psychiatrist  to study me and write down her findings in my notebook. Actually the most comforting thought was: this is me from the future saying don’t worry it’s all going to be okay as long as you listen to your heart and not your fears.

As soon as I realized I was continuing a pattern to hold myself back, it was so easy to let go of the anxiety. Yes, I don’t have enough savings to last me forever, but that should be motivation to finish my book sooner, not get another job. Since finding that journal, I’ve been writing like crazy and any time I think of looking at my bank account, or looking at a job listing, I repeat my findings to myself, and keep writing.

What is your pattern? Leave it in the comment section below or write it down in a journal. The next time you start to doubt yourself, revisit your comment and see if your anxiety is based on truth or based on a belief that is holding you back. This was so helpful for me, and I hope it can help you as well.

Financial Empty Calories

I’ve started to teach ESL again and I love it. At first I fell into the trap of comparing my new paycheck to my old paycheck. That is the worst thing I can do. There’s no point in comparing salaries between two completely unrelated jobs. You need to compare happiness, and satisfaction. At my old job, my only sense of satisfaction came from making money. When that’s the case, you need to keep making more and more money in order to feel satisfied. It’s like eating empty calories – there’s no substance.

Here’s a much better way of looking at it my new part time job: I’m getting paid to have fun. I really enjoy talking to my students, hearing about their cultures, and coming up with new ways of making the past perfect verb tense fun. Besides for the grammar, it’s a lot like hanging out at the hostel  when you’re backpacking and meeting people from all over the world.

If someone paid me to watch movies I love, I wouldn’t scoff at the paycheck, or compare it to how much I would get paid to do something I don’t like, I would say , “how did I get so lucky?

Am I trying to tell you money is bad? Hell no. I want to be able to travel all the time, and eat out at fancy restaurants, take taxis when my feet are hurting, and wear pretty clothes, and not have to worry about bills. I’m still working on my BeddyBye invention, and I hope it will make me a millionaire one day. The difference is that the money won’t be the only source of satisfaction – it will be a reward for my hard work, dedication, and risk-taking. But just knowing my product made one person’s life easier would be worth it too.

p.s. My main priory right now is finding a mentor to talk to. If anyone knows someone in the manufacturing world who would like to be a mentor, I’d love the connection!