Every dollar has a job. That’s the principle behind a budget. If you don’t have a purpose in mind for your money, you’re not going to have it for long.
Likewise, without a concrete goal, it’s hard to bring in more money.
For me, at least, I can’t seem to just make more for the sake of it. I need a reason. Whether it’s clearing a debt, saving for a SPECIFIC thing, taking a trip … there needs to be an end goal that I can visualise and focus on.
I’ve had a lot of big goals that I had no idea how I was going to accomplish. But I did – every single time. Whether it was a round-the-world trip or buying a house, I had to take a leap of faith and trust that my strategy would see me through.
I’ve been amazed, over and over, by what I can accomplish by simply DECIDING to achieve it. Once I put aside the doubts and what-ifs and just mentally commit to making it happen. Trusting that it’s possible. It’s often about letting go of attachment to a specific outcome, roadmap, or timeline. The pieces usually start to fall into place after that.
I have a funny relationship with external validation. I crave it more than anything else. It gives me the most delightful warm glow in my belly. But I also feel intensely…uncomfortable receiving it?
Sometimes you need others to believe in you before you can believe in yourself. You can borrow their convictions and try them on for size until you get comfortable in them.
I’m now 33 (what a cool number) and only now do I REALLY feel like I’m starting to come into my own. And I’ve been reflecting on the most important relationship in my life. It’s not with my son or his dad or any of my family. It’s not even with another living creature.
It’s with my work and career
I’ve gained so much through my work that I can’t possibly begin to quantify or articulate it all.
Through work, I have had people advocate for me. Observe my contribution when I couldn’t see it. “They’d have been screwed without you.” “You handled that really diplomatically.” (On one occasion, this led to me saying semi-jokingly, “Send all the angry men my way.”)
I’ve been told I have a really interesting way of thinking. That nobody else in their interviews said what I did. I’ve been told by a leader, “I always value/appreciate our chats.” I’ve been dubbed the “silent assassin”.
I’ve been a second choice for a job, but been told it turned out for the best 🙂 As a junior on a project, I’ve caught and raised major red flags early on that nobody else spotted.
Being pushed to create and deliver presentations for teams forced me to reflect on industry shifts, see trends, and synthesise my thoughts. To think critically and originally, drawing my own conclusions.
Through writing and the power of words I’ve been able to fund my dreams, connect with others, learn about countless industries and topics, heal, and grow. I’ve received an education in coaching and personal development by proxy, just through editing books.
I learned to trust my instincts and how to approach tough situations with tact. When I became the target of a toxic leader, who picked on me in meetings publicly, I didn’t take it personally.
Through work I learned how I should and shouldn’t let people in my personal life treat me. I’ve learned so much through the interpersonal aspects of professional life that I now bring into the rest of my life.
When all else fails, work was an escape and a break. There, I was competent and confident.
I will have this always. When my son is grown, I will have all the gifts my work has given me, on top of financially supporting my lifestyle, and I know that I will continue to find joy and satisfaction in for years to come.
I’ve had a lot of reasons to be thankful for insurance over the past year. When insurance companies come through on claims, it’s so worth it.
Getting a new (used) car through insurance
Even though it’s a slight downgrade – a slightly older model, where the lights and wipers don’t automatically turn on/off when it gets dark/rains. Still well worth it. The old car had a few major issues after faithfully serving for many years – and then there was an accident that resulted in insurance writing it off entirely.
Getting a new shed through house insurance
Last year, the shed down in the back corner of the yard caught fire in the night. (It’s still unclear why. The best working theory is stray sparks from the neighbours, who often BBQ just on the other side of the fence from the shed.) It’s just lucky it’s situated so far away from the main house.
Home insurance covered the shed replacement. Because the old one was an ancient, falling-down structure full of asbestos, they replaced it with a metal kitset shed. The whole painful process took six months from lodging the claim to completion of the shed – but it’s done! The new shed is infinitely more usable, too.
Getting Spud minor surgery through health insurance
Spud has always had a lot of issues with noisy breathing, reflux, his sinuses, nosebleeds, and constant colds/coughs. (Weirdly, no ear infections, as far as I can tell. Either that, or he’s such a trooper he just doesn’t let on.) A couple ENT visits and an X-ray later, we learned he has enlarged adenoids. After taking a wait-and-see approach for a couple more months, we went the surgical route. The operation took less than an hour and went super smoothly. Way better than expected! The difference was instant. Turns out that airway was more than 50% blocked by those supersized adenoids. It was, of course, quite scary to contemplate upfront. Now, I wish we could have done it earlier. Oversized adenoids is another fairly common thing, it turns out. This has been a huge step on my own personal journey, away from putting up with whatever life hands you, not making a fuss, powering through.
It’s not the first time we’ve gone to a specialist, having given up on the general care system. I’ve talked before about Spud’s food intolerances. He’s sensitive to half of the top 8 allergens. I’m grateful that he does not have severe instant reactions, but intolerances are a real pain. They’re hard to pin down and others don’t take you seriously. Babies and toddlers can’t communicate! Using a mix of scientific observation and tracking, and my intuition, I was finally able to identify the trouble ingredients (dairy, nuts, fish and seafood). I may not have hard proof, but I completely believe in my conclusions and totally stand by them.
The first specialist was sceptical. Some symptoms Spud presented are not typical by medical gospel. However, shitloads of anecdotal evidence in online communities and private groups say otherwise. And all our experiences count for something in my eyes. Anyway, we finally got prescribed hypoallergenic formula – and that changed everything.
But we still struggled with some bad eczema flareups. So we went to the most recommended paediatric dermatologist. “It’s quite bad, you know,” she observed. No shit. But not bad enough for a GP to care. So she gave us a routine to follow – with very specific descriptions of how much cream to apply on specific days – and it worked a treat.
Have you been getting your money’s worth (or at least, peace of mind) from your insurance?
I recently had a client – let’s call her Ana – bail on a project. This was a real blow. It was an expansion on something we’d done together previously – I was so excited! I even posted publicly about it once we agreed to proceed (and maybe that was the problem…) I was paid for the work I did do, but it was only a small part of the total scope.
I couldn’t help but think back to another client – let’s call him Rich – where something somewhat similar happened. I way overestimated his project – it hardly needed anything from me. (Seriously. When does that ever happen?!) I charged him something like 25% or 33% of my original quote because I barely had to touch most of the draft.
Both times, I was very attached to that sum of money I had quoted. I needed it for something- it was already earmarked in my mind for a purpose. And neither worked out!
But Rich went on to refer so many more people my way, which has paid off dozens of times over. And hopefully this instance this will make space too for something else to flow in. Already I’ve had another former client come back wanting help with almost the same thing Ana did…
Looking back, things have actually happened for me when I least expected them. Usually once I’d given up and let go of all expectation. Not when I was pushing for them, obsessing about them. Only when I finally freed up the space for them to flow.
At work, I’m always trying to figure out if we are tackling the right problem. What are we trying to solve? It starts with the strategy, or you could be focused on answering the wrong question. There can be many different ways to achieve the same outcome. Define the goal but don’t dictate the solution or even the timeline.
It’s a process. A painful, sucky, tedious process.
It’s showing up, over and over again.
Winning some moments. Failing in others.
Sometimes you’ll hate it, in the day-to-day grind. In the midst of the dreary, repetitive, mind-numbing lows. Feel compelled to start screaming and never stop.
It’s worth it for the magic moments that arise unbidden. The sheer sparkle of a cheeky smile and unbridled chuckle. Warm snuggles. Watching little legs toddle and run. Swapping jokes and banter. Marvelling at new leaps, new questions, new skills springing up overnight.
And sometimes it feels worth it once you finally sink into the sofa at night, collapsing with an exhausted smile, relishing the quiet.
It’s a marathon.
You’re never really done.
So you start again fresh each day and give your all.
What is shadow work and why the hell should I care?
This, along with reparenting, is pretty new to my lexicon.
It’s all part of healing. Moving forward in life despite your baggage. And it pays off in improvements to your self-esteem, relationships, finances, LIFE.
You know that feeling that you’re just playing at being an adult? It’s because really most of us are just children running around in adult bodies. We’re reacting and behaving instinctively and not in a particularly conscious way. These deep beliefs and instincts sprung up in childhood and are often based on something that might seem really trivial, once you trace it back to its origin. Often, they actually wind up sabotaging us.
Until we wake up to this, we go around operating from/focusing on our conscious awareness, and that’s only part of the picture.
Shadow work: a definition
We all have flaws. There are parts of ourselves we don’t like. Some we don’t even acknowledge.
Psychologist Carl Jung conceptualized our disowned parts, our ‘dark side’ and repressed desires as ‘the shadow’.
Unfortunately, many of us do not know what is in our shadow — and these disowned parts may still be driving the show in creating our reality.
Shadow work is about bringing those out into the open. Facing them. Accepting them. Uniting with them. Becoming your full, whole, true self.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a strong sense of self. It’s a product of various things, but the main two in my upbringing were:
my parents and how they held their own perceptions/projections of who I was
moving countries and feeling totally adrift, then trying to desperately fit in
Facing your demons isn’t for the faint of heart. You may not be ready yet. I know I wasn’t, 10 years ago. Not even 5, or 3.
Anyway, that’s all really fluffy sounding shit. What, exactly, does this process involve?
Broadly, it starts with awareness. Then this allows you to start observing yourself in the moment. And eventually you’re able to choose a different path, a different thought, a different action. You’re taking control and acting consciously.
In bringing in our shadow, we shine light on it and diminish its power over us. We learn to coexist with it and to gain control over it.
Once you’ve got the awareness, then you can start to take action in the real world with tangible results.
How I’ve been doing shadow work
You guessed it. Writing. Journalling about things like:
Some of the things I believe
Why I have those beliefs
What results that’s gotten me
What other beliefs I could adopt
What emotions I was discouraged from expressing
What common excuses I use
How I sabotage myself
How I judge others
That’s where the awareness begins. Then it’s about applying awareness in real life situations.
In a challenging or confronting moment, pause and breathe. What emotions are coming up? I try to walk toward the feelings. Acknowledge them. Name the sensations.
For example: Spud is screaming in the middle of the night. I’m feeling ragey. I need sleep! Guilt. Was it the ice cream he begged for this afternoon – was that too much dairy for his system? Oh my god, why haven’t I learned? Worry. Can the neighbours hear and what will they think? Empathy. Poor thing. He must be having a horrible time right now.
I’m feeling hot, throbby, and having flashbacks to previous nights when he was younger and screamed his way through countless night wakings.
Another example: Someone’s come to me with an inquiry about a project and I’m not sure how to charge. I’m feeling uncertain. Anxious. How can I scope this out?! It’s gonna take so much time – I’m already so busy! How can I make sure I make it worth my time? Will I scare them away? What’s the right answer here?
I’m feeling panicky, with all those imposter syndrome vibes rushing up, my old beliefs that I need to work hard for money, that I’m not worthy of charging high rates (anchored in my old career and in early experiences knowing my parents’ hourly rates) and general scarcity mindset.
Then I decide what to do, from a deliberate and unrushed place.
There’s not much to be done with a screaming Spud. Hold him if he wants. Lie down with him, if he will. Offer milk, and add a few gas drops to it if he wants some. Refrain from self-blame.
I think about what I feel is a fair project fee. I might Google to get an idea of what others charge for this kind of work, and what tiers there are. I take the time to thoroughly review the material, if applicable, and might spend a few minutes working up a sample for myself to get a feel for how long it would realistically take.
I contemplate the true worth of the project. It may not be hugely profitable for the client – but that’s not the goal. The aim of this piece of work is to help them convert more clients as a result, to establish their expertise through valuable content. I think about all the other clients I’ve already helped and how they raved about the end product. I encourage myself to raise that number a bit from my original estimate.
I’m a calmer, steadier parent, no longer sending off vibes of panic, guilt, and stress. Better for me, better for Spud.
I’m quoting from a place of confidence and wholeness, trusting myself as an expert. Showing up with a different energy. I’m okay with hearing no; I’m not desperate for this. I remind myself that I don’t want to wind up resentful for quoting too low. My rate needs to be one that I’m happy to work for. I’m even making more than I ever have before. I’m enjoying it more, and honestly, I think I’m doing better work because of that! What a result.
For me, the core of it boils down to: respond, don’t react.
Acknowledge memories it’s brought up. Question the story I’m telling myself. Is this true? Be kinder to myself; start with empathy not shame, and extend the same to others. It’s a new and gentler, more conscious approach to everything in life. I’m liking the results, and the more I do it, the better it gets.
True story. When I was in my teens, the most important advice my parents saw fit to pass on to me about relationships was to get tested … to check that my partner and I were genetically compatible.
Honestly, there are so many more things it’s important to be compatible about in daily life. Like housework, and leisure time … and money.
When a saver + spender come together, there’s so much to compromise on. The little stuff, like snack runs to the corner shop. The big stuff, like planning and paying for trips, through to saving for the future.
And navigating through all the stuff is HARD. Talking about it, let alone managing it!
When financial coaches Saver Street reached out to me about their new offerings, I was stoked to see how deep their program for couples went. They’ve got a free Money & Marriage Conversations Checklist to kick things off, as well as a 5-week Money & Marriage course that dives into all the juicy stuff to help you get on the right track. There’s guidance on some of the most common financial issues facing couples, like:
Agreeing on big expenses
How to give gifts
Putting together a budget
Deciding who plays what role in the finances
Each week there’s a quiz for you to take individually as well as prompts for reflection. Then, you come together to reconvene using the guides for discussion, and you can join the group coaching calls if that’s your kinda jam.
I LOVE that Week 3 looks at how love languages and money intersect. I’m such a huge nerd for psychology and self-development; and so very very much of personal finance is mental and emotional. Our backgrounds impact everything, whether it’s how we view money or approach parenting.
There’s essential insights to be had around spending personalities, and they get real and honest about combining finances (including when it may not be the right time/move for you now. Let’s face it, this is not the best idea for everyone!)
And importantly, it all culminates with practical steps: building a budget and action plan, and agreeing on roles and responsibilities – who does what, with super specific, nitty gritty tasks from managing taxes through to car maintenance.
I got sick of hoisting Spud up to wash his hands. A bamboo step stool has now taken up permanent residence at the bathroom basin. Most importantly, it has saved my arms and back, and many splashes…
With two dogs and a toddler around, the floors are in a constant state of disarray (emergency, even?). A dustpan and brush sometimes feel inadequate and it’s not always convenient or practical to whip out the vacuum constantly. Enter the BISSELL manual sweeper! It’s like a contained broom and it’s a godsend. The carpet sweeper ‘vacuums’ up carpet nicely, controlling pet hair, and it does a reasonable job of hard floors too. There are a lot fewer crumbs in my life now and I’m much happier for it.
It’s not uncommon to see railway tracks chalked all over our driveway and the footpath outside our house, all in bright colours courtesy of Crayola sidewalk chalk. Great fun on dry days!
Speaking of tracks, I nabbed Spud some secondhand wooden train tracks for Christmas and they were a hit. These are his fave toys at daycare. I was reluctant to double up at home, but really, he loves them – why deny him?
The long days, short nights and 2 year sleep regression hit hard. Later, I figured out that granola for breakfast was probably causing a lot of the painful wakings (sleep and eating issues are still closely linked for Spud even at this age … and the traces of nuts in the granola were probably the culprit). As for the prolonged bedtimes, I resorted to trying chewables with magnesium to help support/encourage falling asleep. No idea if they actually helped, but now they’ve become a key part of the routine: vitamin, books, and bed.
Next up on my wishlist? Bath crayons to keep bathtime engaging. Thankfully, you can buy anything online these days with a good internet connection (remember to shop around on broadband comparison websites). As a working parent, leisurely instore browsing is a thing of the past.
What are you loving right now for your little ones?
Were there pros to the pandemic? Silver linings in the lockdowns?
The one that first comes to mind is work flexibility. The dream! May it last.
The second is time with Spud, albeit with wayyyy too much screen time.
And with the dogs.
The reduced cost/time of commuting is great. On in-office days, it still provides a nice buffer in the morning and evening to myself to switch gears and get into the right mindset.
How did I ever manage laundry working FT in the city?
Being able to do more daycare dropoff and pickup – connect with parents and teachers, which I couldn’t really do before.
Appreciation for my neighbourhood – easily walkable to greenery, cycleways, parks, playgrounds, the local horse farm. Shops, transport, pool and other amenities not far away. Having my own house and yard to quarantine in.
Being stretched and finding new depths of resilience, patience, and awareness as a parent and a person.
Not gonna lie, though. It was an effing horrendous year that nearly broke me.
Going into 2021…
Upgradeis my word of the year. My mindset, and my results.
I’ve written a bit about conscious parenting and soon I’ll be delving into intentionality and consciousness around money. Bringing this mindful approach into all areas of life. Woo as it sounds, I now know it’s the key to levelling up and creating a new reality.
As a rule follower, I shouldn’t be surprised by now when other people don’t play by the rules.
Especially in this case. Gifts for kids are fraught!
The daycare Christmas party had Santa handing out presents to every child, with each parent responsible for buying a gift for $10 or less for their own offspring.
I personally didn’t expect whatever I chose for Spud to even make it back home from daycare – even more reason, in my mind, to keep it simple.
But as it turns out, we had a massive outage at work that morning, and so with nothing to do … I nipped up the road to daycare to attend the Santa visit and witness the gift exchange.
As some kids unwrapped big, cool trucks and whatnot, others (including Spud) quickly got Christmas gift envy. Longing stares and subtle drifts towards the coveted toys started to converge from all directions. Spud even threw his tiny toy on the floor and declared that he didn’t want it.
This was a major trigger for me. We didn’t do presents in my household growing up (Not a money thing.) I still have issues around lack, scarcity, comparison and envy of other people’s stuff.
My first instinct? SCREW IT! NEXT YEAR WE’RE GOING BIG! Forget the budget limit, clearly others totally ignored it!
But I eventually came to see the real lesson here. A life lesson for my kid.
Some people will have more than you. Some people will have less.
It would be silly and futile to bend over backwards to spare him disappointment. That’s not how life works.
I acknowledged that he wanted those other trucks. That maybe the others would share and they could all play together – but ultimately, that would be up to them.
It was a lesson for me, too. To let him feel and express those feelings. To be his teacher and to steer him through the ups and downs of being human. If one thing is for sure, it’s that there will be countless more to come.
Have you ever had to deal with Christmas gift envy?