I admit I'm an avid reader of the self-help/personal growth genre, but it's only every so often that a book really resonates with me. Money: A Love Story by Kate Northrup is one of those books. For anyone (like me) who tells themselves "finances just aren't my thing" or "I just don't understand financial stuff", this book is for you. What's great about it is that, rather than just give you pointers on how to budget, save, etc., it focuses on the mindset we have around money, based on the theory that none of those practical tools will really be effective if your relationship with money is broken.
So why the heck am I writing about money on an education blog? Excellent question! :)
Mostly because, as I was reading the book, I kept having "a-ha's" related to the education profession and how it relates to my own attitude toward money.
One of the exercises that she has the reader do is jot down some limiting beliefs you have about money. Some of mine included:
"seems like everything that comes in just goes right back out"
"people who focus on money are greedy (or not focused on helping others)"
"you can't make much money in education"
That last one probably sounds familiar, huh? As educators (or any other position within the field), we're constantly reminded by the media, our friends & family, and sometimes even ourselves, that we're in a line of work that doesn't create wealth (financially speaking, that is). And, to some extent, there's truth to that. Sadly, no matter how much we bust our humps, it's unlikely that we'll be financially compensated to match the level of effort we put into our job. While there's certainly some action we can take to make some positive progress in that direction politically speaking, the truth is that focusing on that limiting belief will only give it more power in our lives. As the author states, "what you pay attention to grows...there are plenty of people who pay tons of attention to their expenses, their lack of money, and their debt. And guess what grows in their lives? ...Their financial life stays exactly where it is, or even gets worse, because they're so focused on what they don't have..." (p. 102)
If you find yourself eye rolling at that statement, think of what we know as educators about fixed vs. growth mindset. We know that a fixed mindset, toward anything, looks at the limits rather than the possibilities. When presented with challenges, it keeps us stuck rather than looking for solutions. Imagine if we replaced the belief "there's no money to be made in education" with "I think outside the box about how I can make money with the knowledge & expertise that I have". You might just find yourself exploring possibilities you hadn't considered before, like starting an education blog, writing a book, setting up a Teachers Pay Teachers store, tutoring, and more. If, when reading that, you thought to yourself "No way! I'm enjoying my summer break, I work hard enough during the year, thank you!" then that's okay, too. I like how the author addresses this in the conclusion of the book:
"Maybe you’re exhausted and burned out ...You can’t see beyond sitting by a pool somewhere warm drinking frothy beverages...That’s cool too. Following your bliss to that pool and hanging out there until you finally feel rested is definitely the way to go. Fill your energetic cup full first, even if it’s bigger than that pool you're lounging beside. Eventually something in you will stir when you’re finally filled and your own cup begins to overflow...Trust the process." (p. 163)
She reiterates in the book that money is simply energy. It's simply a tool to create more freedom in our lives. Wanting more of it doesn't make you greedy and there's nothing noble about suffering financially. In fact, we can be a lot more helpful and generous to others when our own needs are met.
If the content of this book sounds exciting to you, I encourage you to check it out, it's already made a big difference in my perspective. There's too much great stuff to share it all here, but here are a few other little gems I thought were worthy of sharing:
My overriding takeaway from this book in regard to the education profession was that it's so important that we value what we do. We may feel at times that we're underappreciated and undervalued. We can't make others see the value in who we are and what we do. All we have control over is ourselves--our own beliefs & attitude. If this is the profession that you love and are choosing to commit to, really own the value in what you do with the understanding that, in this particular role, your largest compensation--your real wealth--may not be financial, but we are compensated in other ways as well. We are compensated in hugs, heartfelt thank- you's, watching a student you taught make a life changing turnaround, and a myriad other ways. And, while those ways don't help pay the bills, they are nothing to scoff at. The reality is that there are people in the world earning great financial compensation, yet hating what they do and wishing they were making a difference in the world. Our compensation isn't less, it just comes in a different form. You are part of what may be the highest ranking profession there is in terms of value added to the world--own it! [TWEET]
If you've read this book, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it! As always, please share with anyone you think might find this helpful. Until next time...