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3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Relationship With Money

06/01/2015 06:25 pm ET | Updated May 31, 2016

3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Relationship With Money

Money, just the mention of it can stir strong emotions. Whether we have little or a lot, we all have a connection to its use and acquisition. There are people who brazenly grab and grasp for all they can and others who vilify its unequal distribution. Money can provide opportunity and security, but if abused, can destroy people, damage families and devastate companies. It is not money that is either the blessing or the curse. Rather it is one's relationship to it that determines the path followed and the outcome. In this article I offer three ways our relationship with money can be improved. I do so in hopes of opening a dialogue, and I encourage this community of readers to both broaden this list and bring others into the conversation.

1 - Work for a purpose not for a check

The other day, while working with one of my clients standing outside of the headquarters of the company he founded, he looked at me and said; "You know this is not about the money, it is about making a real difference". There was no doubt of his sincerity, and I see this time and time again. The acquisition of money is not going to sustain drive or feed a passion. It is not going to foster employee enlightenment where employees feel heard, valued and respected. Working for some form of higher purpose will. If growing the bottom line is your only definition of success, you run the risk of continual disappointment. Working for purpose, a unifying call to action that will drive achievement and feed passion, will do far more to support the success of an organization than a simple bottom line focus. Oh, by the way, in my experience working for a purpose usually results in an even healthier bottom line. This advice applies to both an organization and an individual. If you chase money, you will be forever chasing. If you work for a purpose, you will eventually find satisfaction.

"You know this is not about the money, it is about making a real difference"

2 - Stop keeping score

We are competitive by nature, and we love to measure and keep score. It takes only a brief look at the sports page or the stock ticker to see our proclivity for measurement. We define success often by a number. Sadly, this is often how we define our own achievement. The individual success quotient of how much we earn and how much we have is a yardstick used to compare ourselves to others. To some, this manifests much more outwardly to others it is more inward, but it is present in almost all. I will offer this example; you are happy in your job, you enjoy what you do and you like the people you work with and for. One day a colleague pulls you aside and informs you that they are leaving, going to a similar company that is going to pay her significantly more for a similar job. What happens to your happiness? Do you still feel the same about your current job? If you are like most, the answer is no. You have allowed this new measurement of earnings to diminish your happiness. I have had the pleasure of being part of a leadership program this year where many of my cohorts are CEO's of health and human service non-profits. By almost any definition, these are incredibly successful individuals. They run vibrant organizations that make a huge and lasting impact on our communities. But if we applied the individual success quotient to them, how would they stack up? We need to set down this yardstick and stop trying to keep score based on arbitrary numbers. I would propose a new individual success quotient: working for a purpose and feeling heard, valued and respected.

3 - Needs grow with money
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When I was younger I figured if I could just earn X I would be happy. When I finally earned X, I simply replaced it with Y. When I earned Y then I would be happy for sure. The same was true with homes and cars. It took time to learn that needs, which in most cases are truly wants, grow in direct correlation to money earned. We grow into our lifestyles, few of us take large jumps, and it is just a natural progression. Therefore, we find ourselves constantly moving the finish line, wondering why "happiness" seems so elusive. Even today I struggle with this aspect in my relationship with money. It is no longer about earnings or possessions; rather it is about security. I want peace and surety that we can be there for our kids as they enter their early adult years and that my wife and I will never be a burden to them in our later years. I figure if I could just save X I would be okay. Then I save X and replace it with Y. No different from my earlier pattern. However there is one glimmer of hope and that is awareness. I don't benefit from it during the throes of worry, but in these moments I have that clarity which helps to lessen the energy of the storm. So I can't offer a complete remedy for the worry and I would welcome anyone who can, but what I can suggest is that there is a benefit of awareness and acceptance. Our needs/wants grow with money, and blindness to this fact will only lead to needless chasing.

It took time to learn that needs, which in most cases are truly wants, grow in direct correlation to money earned.

I am certain these are merely but a few of the many facets we can identify to help improve our relationship with money. I feel strongly that we don't talk about how to do so enough or openly. Please join me in this conversation, as I know we would all benefit.

Thanks for reading,

This article also appears on www.TheIntertwineGroup.com