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Growing up, we didn’t receive an allowance or money when we got good grades. In fact, those were things that I was deeply jealous of others for having. In my family, you had to work hard to earn money. And being a good kid and earning good grades didn’t count. Those were expected and they were required. If you did them, all you got in return was a pat on the back and a reminder to keep at it. I knew I was a good kid because nothing else was tolerated, and I was also a good student because I loved learning, so looking at friends and acquaintances who actually got money for those things made me crazy with envy.
I had a strong desire to have money of my own. At the age of 8 or 10, I asked mom if I could have a lemonade stand. The answer was no. My mother was super protective and she was not about to let me hang out by the street trying to sell lemonade to passers by. She thought for sure something bad would happen. I was discouraged and foiled. I wanted money in my hot little hands. I wasn’t sure why. I didn’t go anywhere to spend money, but I knew that other people had money and I wanted some.
When I was about 11–12 years old, my mom’s friend asked if my sister and I would be willing to iron for her. She had two little girls at the time, and they had lots of frilly dresses. She was too busy to iron them and disliked doing it as well. Mom asked us, and I jumped on it. Yes! I would iron for $0.50 per dress.
It was hot, hard work and my mom had exacting standards. It was to be done right or she’d make me do it again. I’m not sure if you can imagine it, but it was in the 1980’s and there were frills, ruffles, lace…..all the girly things. I kept at it, looking out the window at our above ground swimming pool longingly. But resisting the temptation to quit and go play because the lure of having some money was stronger than my desire to swim (imagine that!).
I remember the first time I got paid. It was $5 for 10 dresses ironed to perfection. Wow! I was on cloud nine and it was totally worth all the effort. It was worth the sacrifice of play and swim time to actually have money in my hand.
But the thing is, that early experience set a precedent for me to view work as something that was “hard”. I viewed earning money as something that required “sacrifice” of what I really wanted, in order to have it.
And here’s the thing, I’ve carried that belief with me my whole life. My parents said that you had to work hard for money. My principle in school said that you had to work hard in school, even if you were sick, in order to learn how to work in the real world and make money. It was expected that I would work hard for my paycheck from an outside source. From someone or something other than me. When I did that, I got praise and another pat on the back. It started with ironing those dresses and continued on to babysitting, working at McDonald’s and my first accounting job and all the things in between. I was encouraged to continue working hard and my employers would reward me with a paycheck.
Yes, those lessons served me in a lot of ways. But the truth is, those lessons have also served to keep me stuck. For many years I didn’t quit my 9–5 job, even when I had a strong desire to do so. Not because I didn’t trust myself to work hard at being an entrepreneur, but because my internal belief was that I had to work hard for someone else in order to get paid.
While I am wholeheartedly grateful for the lessons as well as the money I earned, I am also grateful that I now have an opportunity to change that story. To re-write my own money story the way I want it. To instill in myself the belief that I can earn money without working hard and slaving over an ironing board for hours, as well as trusting that the money doesn’t have to come from an employer. I love the fact, that I am able to earn the money I need and want, yet have more enjoyment in my life and time to do the things that make me happy.
This is one of the things I work with my clients on. I help them really dig into their own programming and find what is keeping them stuck. I help them see those hidden money stories, so that they can begin to rewrite the money story. The way they want. On their own terms. Trusting that they can have all the money they need regardless of where it comes from.
What do you think? Can you recall your first money making enterprise? Has it shaped you today? Send me an email and let me know!