A lot of women in my Overcoming Underearning workshops tell me they feel guilty about wanting to make more money, as if a profit motive were somehow shameful. I used to struggle with this conflict myself. But that was before I wrote my book, “Secrets of Six-figure Women.”
I’d asked each of the high earners I interviewed this question: Are you doing what you’re doing for the money?
With rare exceptions, every one swore that it wasn’t the money that motivated her success. It was what they hoped to achieve, like recognition, independence, security. But there was an important distinction that made a big impact on me. Although these women weren’t in it just for the money, at the same time — and this is the key — they darn well wanted to be well compensated because they felt they were worth it.
Their financial success didn’t come from the love of money, but their love of self, and the value they placed on what they offered.
Women in general tend to give away their time, skills, experience for free or bargain prices because they don’t believe they’re worth more. This practice is not good for your pocketbook. It's even worse for your self esteem.
I once asked a screenwriter friend who’s always helping people polish their scripts why she never takes payment. She sighed deeply. "I guess I don't have the confidence to charge," she said, quickly adding, "but I feel lousy about myself always doing things for free." Continuing to give our time away creates a self-perpetuating downward spiral of diminishing self-worth.
Through these interviews and personal experience I realized that achieving self love, self worth, and self respect is the real secret to financial success — much more so than working longer hours or seeking multiple streams of income. When you begin valuing yourself, your finances inevitably improve, along with most everything else.
Conversely, low self-esteem makes it difficult, if not impossible, to reach the next level. Why? Because you don’t believe you can. And there’s no better way to reinforce that belief, limit your power, and diminish your value than by lowering your earning potential. It all works together.
Breaking through your earnings barriers requires the recognition that you really are a capable person with something valuable to offer, and you understand beyond a doubt — no matter how vehemently those little voices in your head may argue — that you deserve to be well paid because you’re worth it.
Barbara Stanny is a member of the DailyWorth Experts program. Read more about the program here.