At lunch one day my friend Marianne (who is young, talented, and beautiful) had tears in her eyes as she explained her frustration at earning a living. Her days were filled with things to do, but somehow she was always under earning. "I never seem to be able to figure out how to make money." "Oh, I can help you do that," I said. And so we started a series of "coaching sessions" where I helped her figure out her strengths and what she liked to do and how to turn that into actual cash.
I've now found myself spending time helping different people with the same question. Some of my "students" succeed and others continue to flounder, and I've been giving a lot of thought as to why that is. Why is it easier for some people to make a living than others?
Here are some "secrets" about making money/earning a living that I've learned through my coaching as well as my own life experience:
1) All there is is now—The past, your age, whether you have any money saved for retirement... none of that matters. That's all the past. It's all about NOW. Let go of the past except for the parts of the past that are USEFUL. Useful includes: "I have experience teaching, or I know a lot about accounting, or I have many funny stories from my relatives, or I speak a second language fluidly." The past has no power over us except that we give it power. I know that it sometimes seems impossible to let go, but honestly, all you have is the present. If you haven't read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, go read it now, and if you've read it before go read it again! The past does not determine what happens in your career now. So just let all that stuff go and take things from this moment forward.
2) Money = Value in others' eyes—To make money you have to do something or create something that other people value. You can spend time on doing things that create value in your eyes and that is a wonderful thing. That is possibly the most worthwhile thing to do, however, you cannot assume that that will turn into cash. So there are things you do because they are who you are. And they are the things you love or they are the things you feel compelled to do even if you don't love them. That's your life. And then there is the time you spend and the things you do to make money. And those are two different things. The nice thing is if some of who you are and what you love can leak into the money part. So I like using my brain and I like being a performer and I've been able to leak those things into the things I do for money.
But if you want to make money then you have to do one or more of the following:
a) Entertain—Famous musicians, actors, actresses, comedians make money because they are entertaining.
b) Solve a problem/take away pain—Most of us work in this arena. A doctor, a lawyer, a consultant works in this sphere.
c) Inspire/give hope—public speakers, teachers, athletes
d) Help others make money—accountants, consultants, salespeople
(There's one more category which has to do with feeding people's addictions such as sex, alcohol, tobacco or drugs—but I don't suggest this as a good idea when you are trying to figure out how to earn a living).
If you aren't doing one of the above, then you will have a hard time making much money, especially as an entrepeneur.
3) You have to "work it"—In order to make money you need to be spending at least 40 hours a week doing activities that either a) make you money immediately and/or b) have a high probability of making you money within the next 12 months. If you want money you have to work, and work here I'm defining as above: 40 hours a week doing something that makes money immediately or has high probability of making you money within the next 12 months. There are no guarantees. If you have a job today making immediate money that doesn't mean you have that same job tomorrow. If you are an entrepeneur then there is not a guarantee that you will make money within 12 months. But you have to be always doing something, for 40 hours a week, that either makes immediate money or you believe has a high probablity that it will make it soon. That is working it.
Here's the wonderful magic—If you are doing these three things: letting go of the past and being present now, doing something that other people find valuable, and working it at least 40 hours a week, then you need not worry about earning a living. You will figure it out as you go along. You will change what you are doing when you think of a better idea that will make money. You will get a job as a janitor for 6 months, or teach piano lessons, or become a consultant, or create an online course on how to live on $10 a day...There are endless possibilities. Some will make more money than others, some are more fun than others, some will be total flops. It doesn't matter. There is no one right thing to do. There is no such thing as too late. If you are alive and spend the 40 hours, then you will figure it out. And what you have done or not done in the past doesn't matter a single bit.
So go out there. Let go of the past. Create value. Work it.