One of the most challenging aspects of career transitioning from work that feels like work, to work that you love, is temporarily letting go of the money. It’s just as challenging, when you’re already self-employed and transitioning from an established income stream to one that’s more delightful but temporarily less lucrative.
Even long-time proponents of authentic work can go for the easy money in moments of temporary insanity. I’ve clearly known my core values since 1998 yet just 18 months ago I lost my mind and made a decision unaligned with my values to pick some low hanging fruit. It paid well for a while and I told myself that I’d just work it a few hours a week until I built up a financial reserve. But a funny thing happened, even though financially, my overall situation improved, I began to resent the source of this windfall. I wrestled with myself for months and could not come to a satisfactory decision. So as it often does, life provided a decision for me. I had many less-costly opportunities to let go but I did it the hard way because the fear of letting go was greater than the unknown good on the horizon.
I’m writing about this now because of a comment on my last post on Honoring Commitments from fellow self-employed blogger Cath Lawson. Be sure to visit her blog, for some bold and wise business advice.
Here are the relevant parts of Cath’s comment.
Hi Tom, I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. One of the main reasons I struggle to honour my commitments sometimes, is that I’ll let one horrid task overwhelm me to the point I won’t look at my to do list. It’s something I’m really struggling with. I think I really need to work on getting over the horrid task thing. Most of the ones I dread are connected to a past business. And I think it’s the connections I have the problem with, as opposed to the actual task.
Did you grasp the meaning in her comment? It’s not the tasks that Cath dreads doing but the emotional connections to those tasks. Often when we make a career transition there is residual fallout. There’s stuff we think we need to hang onto and cleanup because it appears to make good business and financial sense. But we all know that appearances can be tricky.
I’m not sure if this is the case in Cath’s situation because I haven’t coached her on it but it certainly was the case in mine. Sometimes it’s better to walk away and forget trying to get over something. Sometimes a clean break is the soundest financial decision.
Once my unaligned decision began to feel like an obligation I should have eaten my losses and made a clean break. That’s what my inner guidance was telling me but I was holding on only for the money and that’s a decision that’s doomed to failure. This once lucrative cash stream became what Thomas Leonard called a toleration.
When you put up with something, it costs you; unnecessary costs are unattractive. Let’s define tolerations as things that bug us, sap our energy and could be eliminated! Tolerations drain you. They make you feel less attractive to yourself. Thomas Leonard
In his excellent book, The Portable Coach: 28 Sure Fire Strategies For Business And Personal Success, Leonard goes on to explain that we unknowingly install tolerations to slow down our personal growth because when we slow down, we are less frightened. However putting up with anything that we could do something about is damaging to our emotional and spiritual well-being. Often we are turning our back on our own inner guidance because we don’t feel ready to make a clean break from a less than authentic past. Yet every time we ignore our own inner guidance it’s like poking a hole in our soul.
How perforated is your soul these days?
What are you putting up with that you could let go of?
Where have you ignored repeated opportunities to make a clean break?
Are you holding on somewhere, just for the money?
If you are, you may want to ask yourself. “What’s the total cost of this ongoing emotional wrestling match? Might the actual cost of walking away now be less?”