Money has become a problem for the vast majority of people. Some have too much. Most have too little. In either event, it takes far too much energy and time. We too often make a dying rather than a living. But there is a way to change that. There is a way to choose life so that you and your descendents may live.
Tim Gallwey wrote his book, The Inner Game of Work, as part of his quest to work free. Gallwey reminds us, at the start of the book, of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s observation that although people are born free, everywhere they are in chains.
What Gallwey does not address in his book • at least not directly — will be the subject of this and subsequent LifeTrek Provisions: money. If there is one thing that gets in our way of living and working free, that chains us to stressful and taxing work environments, that keeps us from dreaming dreams and seeing visions, and that underlies most of the brokenness and pain in this world, it is money.
Money keeps us in chains. We are chained by our debts and obligations, expectations and commitments, friends and family, as well as our media and culture. At this time of year, spending money • even money we do not have • has become a patriotic act. We are led to believe that it’s part of keeping the economy going, if we have any part to play at all.
This phenomenon of getting in over our heads, and then slaving away for the rest of our lives in order to stay afloat, is part of what Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin call “making a dying” in their insightful book, Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence (Click). It is the exact opposite of the quest to live and work free.
Unfortunately, getting in over our heads has become the rule rather than the exception. Bankruptcies are up and savings are down while people work longer and harder all the time. It should come as no surprise that the divorce rate is also up. Some estimate that as many as 90% of all divorces are caused by money problems.
Even those who “have it made” are coming up short. They may have hefty portfolios, but their lives are no less empty and no more meaningful. They, too, have a money problem: earning, spending, investing, owing, protecting, and worrying about money has taken over their lives. Watching the financial markets consumes large amounts of energy and time, with tickers on our televisions, computers, pagers, and handheld devices. Money, for them, has become an end in itself. They too are “making a dying.”
Whatever happened to the concept of making a living? If we were making a living, to quote Dominguez and Robin, our “work would offer enough challenge to be interesting. Enough ease to be enjoyable. Enough camaraderie to be nourishing. Enough solitude to be productive. Enough hours at work to get the job done. Enough leisure to feel refreshed. Enough service to feel needed. Enough silliness to have fun. And enough money to pay the bills . . . and then some.”
Does that sound anything like your life and work? If not, it may be time to take a fresh look at your relationship to money. It is possible to have it all • an authentic, productive, and meaningful life with all the material comforts you want or need. In the weeks ahead we’ll explore how to make that seemingly impossible dream a reality. Along the way we’ll pick up the basics of making, spending, saving, and giving money. We’ll take a coach approach to one of life’s tougher challenges.
As is often the case, the coach approach can suggest radical shifts from old, established patterns. These shifts can appear at once attractive and yet impossible. Finding the wisdom, courage, and trust to make them happen can mean the difference between “making a living” and “making a dying.” It’s really up to us. As Moses counseled his wandering band: “choose life, so that you and your descendents may live.”
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May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
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