When I was 18 and about to head to college, my dad, a lifelong capitalist and business owner, told me that money makes the world go round. That life is a whole lot easier when you have it.
A simple, truthful statement yet I wonder how that has affected my relationship with money.
My relatively expensive private school didn’t teach much about money. Not in a way I understood as a young person. My parents didn’t seem to teach much about it either. It was more of sweeping statements about the importance of having it, how college would help me get it etc..
You know that story.
I saw both of my divorced parents struggle and fight for money my entire life. My mom did every odd job in the world and found success in sales. My dad was an electrician with his own business and employees just fighting through the ups and downs of the economy.
But even after 18 years of that, nothing clicked for me about the importance of money. Why? Why did I have no savings, no credit cards, no stocks, nothing? Despite my parents doing everything they thought they could do to set me up for success, I was set up for failure. Because my mind didn’t understand it all.
It took me until the age of 23, after lots of jobs, internships, and mentors, to have the courage and belief that I could make money on my own. I began to see that my dreams would never come true of being an artist without having the money and resources to get my music out to the world.
And I was tired of feeling like a loser. Because without money, guess what I was? A loser. Every year older that I got, the more I felt like my worth as a person was connected to how much money I had.
The business consumed me and I was obsessed with growing. I started to connect so much more with my dad. I had money to invest in my art. I bought new shoes. I paid all of my bills on time. I had thousands of dollars in my bank account. I moved to Los Angeles to chase my dreams.
GUESS WHAT WORLD, I, COLE CONNOR, AM A SUCCESS!!
Then, in 2020, I lost everything.
At 27, I moved back home. No more money. No new clothes. Art took a standstill. I became depressed. I drank more. I gained weight.
I was still a loser.
I hated my relationship with money. I hated how I started always searching for a quick buck and sacrificing what seems like my whole adult life trying to win the game of capitalism. I win and lose constantly. At different levels of the game. It’s cutthroat and a world where dreams don’t always come true.
But I built up the courage to take another stab at this bullshit capitalistic game.
As soon as I did, I felt my worth starting to rise. I felt cooler. More confident. Powerful. Proud. Knowing I could come back, stronger & faster, is a good feeling.
But this time, there was a difference. The biggest between now and before is that I know how quickly everything can be taken away. I was humbled and through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, I am consistently humbled.
To be honest, I still tie my worth in with financial success some days. Even though I know it can come and go. Our whole society is built around it, and we are constantly scrolling on social media seeing “success”. A nonstop reminder of how much of a loser those of us at the bottom still are. Depends on how you look at it, I guess.
Now, I tend to see it more as money is connected to my happiness. The more I have, the less stress I have, and the more I can invest in my goals and dreams. Which makes me happy.
Unfortunately, I think as I move up financially, I’ll be less connected to money. It sucks that those of us who are at the bottom — paycheck to paycheck — are the ones who struggle the most with worth and money. It creates mental illness that holds us back. Breeds depression.
It’s how the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor.
To leave this on an actionable note. If you struggle with this too, what has really helped me is to be positively proactive. Setting yourself up for success every day. Most of the world struggles. Most struggle their whole life. Most likely you have it pretty good, you’ve just got to wake up and remember that. I did.
How To Change/ Improve Your Relationship w/ Money (It Helps Me)
Money Is A Tool
Though money can correlate to happiness, money does not make us happy. Money is a tool that allows us to live the lives we want to live with no stress. May seem like common sense, but it’s important to note that this “tool” does not determine our worth as people. How much money we start with largely depends on where we live, what we are taught, etc. so if you’re starting from scratch that doesn’t mean you can’t reach your goals. It just may take longer and be harder. But it’s so possible.
Money Comes And Goes
I’ve made $2,000 a month and I’ve made $16,000 a month. I’m not conservative with money, but I do try to be smart. Most times I watch money leave my account just as fast as it comes in. I’m constantly investing in growth and/or experiences. This may not work for everyone — i.e. you may want to just save and save. But for me, I’ve seen it come and go so much that understanding that that’s part of the game helps me watch it go without breaking down.
Changing Your Environment
I think one of the reasons I left where I grew up is because I felt like I wasn’t surrounded by people that really pushed me to reach the goals I strived to reach. That’s also probably why I love YouTube so much — I can surround myself with all of these successful people who teach me and help me become the person I want to be. Not for everyone, but sometimes the people we surround ourselves with are the ones holding us back. Just a thought.
Setting Yourself Up For Success (High Income Skill)
When I moved to LA, I attempted ditching my high-income skill (real estate photography) to dive into my creative ventures — and make money with Uber/side hustles. Such a bad call. I was stressed, depressed, became broke, and felt like the loser I mentioned above.
I highly recommend finding one skill that you can make $100–$200 an hour doing so that you can survive and thrive while you chase your dream etc. I make 4x-5x more money in real estate photography than Uber or a random side hustle. I work fewer hours, and I feel more confident. This gives me the motivation I need to continue working on my passions.
Lastly, but certainly not least, your attitude determines so much. What’s the saying? Your thoughts become your words and your words become your actions etc.. I believe this.
So much is possible. It probably won’t be exactly as you imagine it, but the first step is believing it’s all within reach. Think about the amazing things people do? They all start somewhere. Some of them with less than you and me. We got this. I got this. You got this.
I know I’ll always tie some worth into how much money I make / how successful I am, but as long as when I’m in a downtrend, I don’t let it debilitate me, I’m okay with it. I accept it, and I’ll work through it.
I’ll tell myself what matters the most is how kind we are to others and how much we impact people on a daily basis for the better. Love hard, folks. It matters most.
I’d love to hear what you all think about money and worth. Do you connect? What else helps you disconnect your worth from money?
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