Does it ever seem to you that you get stuck when it comes to career and money while others somehow make it work? In my work with career changers who are not sure what they want to do next, business owners looking to grow their business, and leaders, here are some of the issues I noticed when it comes to why we get stuck when it comes to career and money.
1. Misunderstanding when it’s you vs. the industry
I have worked in the arts, education, marketing, and now coaching. I have worked in the for profit and non profit sector, as a freelancer and as a full time employee. While my hard work, ability to do my job well, and inner growth made a huge difference, a substantial factor in my ability to earn money and/or to get work also always depended on the industry, timing, and the market.
I routinely see messaging that preys on people’s insecurities and desires by convincing them that if they just tried hard enough they could make $$$ in industries where that is only true of a small percentage of the people in it.
On the other hand, I have also met people who overestimated their abilities because they made a lot of money in professions where high earning was relatively easy to achieve compared to other jobs.
The reality is that we are all different people. And we are each called and predisposed towards certain skills and relational dynamics. I long for a world when we are all equally valued: the kindergarten teacher who loves to spend time with little kids as much as the mechanical engineer who builds planes.
Until then, though, my invitation is to:
- Honor yourself. Whatever your calling is, you are as worthy as anyone else
- Stay centered and down to earth. If you keep reading you can make bank with the profession of your choice, but only meet people who struggle in it, take notice and plan accordingly
- Get involved with changing things for your entire industry. A rising tide lifts all boats
2. Not working on yourself
Notwithstanding the above, your mindset and actions can sometimes make the impossible possible.
There was a time when I was terrified of having a website. It gave me such high anxiety it took me almost 2 years before I finally put one up. During those 2 years few people saw my work.
There was a time when negotiating salary felt to me like, oh, I don’t know, akin to learning how to be a neurosurgeon. Once I learned to ask and advocate for myself, I increased my earnings exponentially.
There was a time when thinking someone would pay me to coach them felt like science fiction. Now I am a full time professional coach.
Today all of these things feel like making coffee in the morning - routine and wonderful at the same time!
You have a lot more power than you realize. Here are some stories to inspire you.
3. S**t happens
Lots and lots and lots of things are outside of our control*. And hindsight is 20/20.
Sometimes you just made all reasonable choices, did great work, enjoyed taking each step of the journey, … and things changed.
I got into photography at a time when everyone used film, printing in the darkroom was the norm, and photographers made money in ways more similar to 1975 than 2024. Digital cameras upended the industry in just a few years, Facebook and other social media companies disrupted content distribution, and eventually using a darkroom went the way of oil painting.
As I am writing this blog post, AI is exploding and there are massive tech layoffs.
We have no idea what it will all mean in a few years.
When it happens to us it feels very personal, but it is actually quite common. And change is getting faster. You've got to change with your industry/profession, or move on to something else.
*This also includes health challenges. I think one of things least talked about is the difference it makes when we suffer from a bout of or chronic illness. We need lots and lots of compassion for each other. And a healthcare revolution.
4. Not understanding business and business models (including as an employee)
Business is very simple: make more than you spend.
I can’t remember who said it, but I agree! You can get very confused and distracted by the amount of information available. Instead, look at the math, understand your potential customers, choose the right business model for what you offer, and deliver results.
Keep it simple and to the point.
If you want to succeed as an employee it’s also important to understand how your company makes money: the more you understand what makes a real difference to its financial growth, the more valuable you will be to the organization.
5. You are not honest with yourself
We all tend to stay in situations a little longer than what’s needed.
We have all experienced doing something to please others or for fear of being judged.
We all said yes to a job or gig ignoring that gut feeling for fear of losing an opportunity, only to find out it was not a good fit!
The bad news? If you do this over and over again, you will end up stuck and your confidence will erode.
The good news: you can choose authenticity and courage instead.
Yeah, it will be super scary and you will have to work to make a change.
But you can do it. And it will be so worth it.
Ultimately a lot about life is a mystery. But we can - at any moment - change the course of our career and financial situation. Now.