“Let the beauty we love be what we do.” ~ Rumi
In my mid 20’s, I worked what seemed to be a “good job” in the corporate world. It started great. I enjoyed my team, was developing my skills, and was proud of the money I earned. But when the company changed ownership, my team was replaced and my duties shifted away from my personal strengths. Things slowly turned sour.
My days became long and uncomfortable. My sales dropped significantly, and over time I felt smaller and further away from what is special and uniquely gifted about me. As much as I tried to have a good attitude, my sentiments toward my work and its role in my life spiraled downwards.
I chose to stay with the position because of the money. But as my relationship with the job soured, so did my relationship with the money.
My spending behaviors changed. In subtle attempts to show myself that I was valuable, I began choosing the more expensive entrees and wines. I splurged on long massages, telling myself that I deserved it for what I endured through the workweek. I felt like my money owed me something. But, as Lynn Twist writes, “Money cannot replenish the soul.” Truly, that’s what I was asking it to do.
After my job ended I came to two profound realizations.
The first seems too obvious to need repeating, and yet is too often missed to leave out: Money alone is not enough. The second realization is more elusive: Our relationship with the money in our lives is deeply impacted by our relationship with the source of that money.
When my relationship with the money source became toxic, it contaminated my entire relationship with money. The toxicity was attached to every dollar I earned, and I could feel it in every dollar I used. Considering how often and intimately we interact with money, I felt this effect across my entire life.
Not long afterwards, my favorite yoga teacher gave a moving lesson on Dharma: The idea that as unique beings, we each have a something special to share—something we uniquely do better than anyone else. What’s more, engaging and sharing this part of ourselves is our opportunity, our duty, and our Purpose.
The “aha!” came when I asked myself one simple and life-changing question: What if our Dharma was the source of our money?
To be clear, it’s overly idealistic to expect each person to work their personal Dharma to create money. However, there is clearly a relationship between money creation, the work that we do, and Purpose.
In my case, for example, perhaps if I had children at the time that my corporate job went sour, there might have been a sense of Purpose in providing for them that would have changed my experience—and perhaps changed what the money and its source meant to me.
My story is not the only example that beautifully illustrates the connection. I have a client whose immense family wealth was created in ways that she deems morally questionable. For some time, these ethics defined her relationship with her money, and she felt lost in a sea of its quantity, her perception of toxicity, and the lack of a sense of personal Purpose.
Through coaching, she began to take ownership over the money that became her responsibility when she received it. At the same time, she developed ownership over her personal Purpose. Honoring the value of the money itself, she now uses it in ways that connect her to that Purpose, and that help connect others to theirs. She values her freedom from the daily task of making money, realizing she can work and create genuine value in ways that don’t “earn a living.”
I have a girlfriend who does not work outside the home. Even though she works hard and feels connected to her Purpose as a mother, she initially questioned her own value in light of her lack of “a paycheck.” She generally felt like she wasn’t doing enough, and she didn’t feel entitled to spend money on herself. Then, she saw the connection between her invaluable role as a mother and the financial benefits of her staying inside the home—including the support it gave her husband to earn for their family. She was then able to connect her Purpose to the money in her life. This gave her an internal sense of value and freed her to use money on herself.
What do these stories demonstrate? We must connect our money to Purpose.
When I was no longer developing personally or receiving meaning through relationship at my corporate job, Purpose fell away. The money was not enough to satisfy me. When we connect our money to our Purpose, however, whether directly through work or indirectly through what our money enables (or both), Purpose flows throughout our lives on the back of every dollar. Our lives build up around it, and ultimately, our life and Purpose become one and the same.
As a Money Wellness Coach and Finologist
, these are the kind of questions I seek to answer. I’ve created several tools for understanding your money in light of your life – or if you prefer, in light of Purpose. Aptly, this work is my Dharma, and I find deep Purpose in helping you use your money to live yours.