I didn’t grow up with money and I don’t come from a wealthy family. In fact, my family wasn’t even middle-class. I grew up with a single mom, who did the best she could, but hit some hard times and often struggled to make rent.
When I considered going back to school to pursue my doctorate, I remember looking at the numbers I was facing in student loans and talking to an accountant friend about whether or not this was realistically something I could take on. At 25 years old, barely earning $1500 a month, I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that I could ever take on a $200,000 investment such as grad school. The monthly payments on that alone are more than I was used to earning at that point in my life!
Well, 10 years later and the tables have certainly turned. It didn’t happen overnight, but eventually my practice was bringing in more money than I ever could have imagined myself making. Only working 20 hours a week and consistently bringing in 5-figure months. Coming from so little, this was all I had ever thought I needed in life to be happy.
Without sounding too pretentious, or ungrateful, I appreciate the comforts my income affords me now, such as a nice home in a nice community, a fun car, and quality childcare, however these are not the things that make me happy in my life.
We hear it said all the time: money doesn’t buy happiness, however it does buy you comfort. What I have come to realize is that having money doesn’t mean you’ll have a great life. It just means that you have more money. And there is no amount of money you can make or amount of things you can buy that will bring you happiness, you have to create that on your own.
Money is a piece of the puzzle, an important piece, and certainly something I enjoy making, as should you, but there is so much more that contributes to our happiness and feelings of fulfillment. Bottom line is, chasing money cannot be the end goal.
I’m so incredibly grateful for the success my business has experienced. But I have put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself, from the beginning, to hit these monetary goals because I thought that was what I needed to feel successful. Well, just like any external source we use as a barometer of our worth, there’s never enough. When I was bringing in $1000 a month I would tell myself I just needed to be making $5000 a month, then I would be good. Well, predictably I started making $5000 a month and that wasn’t it, then I needed to be making $10,000 a month. You know how the rest goes.
What I have come to understand is that running a successful business is not the same thing as running a successful life. If you want success in both, you have to work on both...on a daily basis. I find that this is a concept helping professionals tend to oftentimes struggle with. Intellectually we know that we need to place a high value on self-care, however, in practice it can seem to fall to the wayside.
It is important to set professional goals for ourselves and to work hard to reach them, however they cannot be the “end all, be all” or the thing that will bring complete personal satisfaction. That feeling of inner confidence and joy comes from having passions outside of your private practice, constantly focusing on personal growth and gratitude, and never forgetting that money can only bring us so to a certain level of comfort and happiness -- we have to take ourselves the rest of the way.
And if you’re feeling less-than because you haven’t hit your income or private practice goals yet, then remember that when you DO hit those goals, you probably won’t suddenly feel like everything is great if you’ve been neglecting the rest of your life. It’s like drinking a green juice every morning to be healthy, and then eating McDonald’s the rest of the day! Our lives need balance, and your private practice’s success is just one ingredient of your beautiful life.
Here’s How You Can Take Action:
Imagine shifting some of your thoughts and goals from “what do you want to achieve?” to “how do you want to feel?” Allow yourself to really consider how you want to feel in your life when you wake up every morning.
If we only focus on what we can achieve, such as a monetary goal, we may wake up in the morning having achieved that goal but feeling stressed out, burnt out, and uninspired. How successful are we really if that is the experience.
How do you want to feel in your life?
And what can you do, both in your private practice and in your personal time, that makes you feel that way. What steps do you need to take in order for those feelings emerge? How much of your happiness is determined by your professional growth and success, and what other areas of your life need to be tended to in order for you live a truly successful life?
And, of course, if you have any questions, comments, insights, protests, I’d love to hear them! Let’s chat down below in the comments section.