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I’m broke (and I don’t care)

images (9)Last week, something happened to me that happens from time to time. Something I’ve wanted to write about before.

And it’s something that I suppose many of my colleagues would urge me not to share with you as I imagine that the attitude I’m sharing here could be an enormous source of frustration to a coach.

But whatever.

I was broke.

I was in BC visiting friends when I likely should have been working on business things and I had a couple hundred dollars in the bank. If more money didn’t come in I wasn’t going to be able to pay rent. Or pay for much of anything. I figured my money would run out by Friday and my overdraft the next Wednesday for sure.

So, here I am, Mr. Marketing Man being broke. I can imagine it might be like seeing a yoga instructor smoke cigarettes. Or a relationship expert going through a bad break up. Which is kind of the point – the unrealistic (and often unkind) expectations we put on others and ourselves.

And I wanted to write about this because I think that so many of us self employed types carry around a lot of shame at being broke or admitting we’re broke to others. It can seem like we’re admitting that our business isn’t working, that we’re a failure, that we made a mistake in starting it. It’s something we hide and don’t talk about because we really want others to think of us as successful. And this is my point: if you want to make money because you really want to have that money – go for it. If you’re wanting to make money (or seem like you’re making money) to impress people, it might be something to reconsider.

Back to the story: last week I noticed I was broke.

And it struck me how little I cared about it. And how little I care what others think about that.

Because I’m a hippie. And hippies don’t mind being broke from time to time.

To be clear: it’s hardly the first time I’ve been broke. I’ve made money and spent it many times. I remember in the early days being so broke that I couldn’t afford a bagel or a stamp. And I’d already checked the couch for change. Meh. It happens. But my superhuman-like inability to keep a job and utter lack of interest in that combined with my desire for freedom (to the point of real irresponsibility) had me not even consider changing course much. I was just broke. I’d keep going. I’d borrow money and pay it back. I was doing what I loved and following my heart and I didn’t mind not having money sometimes (a little, but not much).

To be even more clear: this last time, I wasn’t totally broke. I had a couple hundred dollars. And there was some affiliate money coming in. I have some money in a travel/savings bank account I could have gone into in an emergency. I could have emailed my list to offer some one on one coaching and likely gotten a response.

To go further, I could have moved back in with my mom (though she’d likely have loaned me the money). I’m white, male and live in Canada with an impressive social safety net and basically free health care. Etc. I also have very little debt at the moment. So, broke is a relative term and there are an immense number of invisible privileges that I enjoy simply because of the family and place in the world I was born into. Being broke as a white, middle ages, tall, straight man in Canada is different than being a broke black man in the southern United States I am quite sure. Or broke as a single mother. I’m single with no dependents. I’m not a single parent, or taking care of elderly parents. My needs and responsibilities are really very few. Were I in a different situation I likely wouldn’t be so ‘flip’ about this broke thing. Broke might not be an option in the same way. And, like you, I work for a world where being broke wouldn’t mean you’d lose your home or ability to eat or feed your family – a world where the most vulnerable amongst us were cared for and no one slipped through the cracks to end up six feet under the concrete we’ve poured over everything that matters.

But the not caring isn’t just coming from this strange, inordinate and strange trust I’ve always had that I’ll be fine and that the money will show up when I need it (which is almost certainly deeply influenced by the privileges I have grown up with that were and likely still are invisible to me) – it’s also that I go broke sometimes because of the choices I make in my life about how often I work. And I actually don’t work half as hard as most people would think I do. I’m quite sure that 90% of my colleagues work much harder than me. And I bet most of them are way better at managing money (there’s a reason I don’t run Accounting for Hippies).

So, I know that my occasional poverty is a choice. It’s summer. I’m hitting up festivals. Drinking on patios. Traveling and letting the money slowly spiral out of my account like a full tub draining. I get it. And I know that I will have to hustle soon to make more. But Summer in Edmonton is an urgent thing. It last like four months out of the year. And then it’s brutally cold winter at times and we’re forced indoors where I’ll have lots of time to work. It’s like I’m a reverse squirrel: I gather my acorns in the winter and live off them in the Summer.

My time management is alright but I often even get to the hustling much later than I should which means I make less money than I could. Whatever. Life goes on.

I value my quality of life, freedom and time with friends. I know that, slowly, I am building up my business to be much more self sustaining and resilient. I know that I keep getting better at what I do. I know I’ll have more home-study courses and products to sell over the coming years. More virtual programs I can offer. I’m on the slow path to those things and watching colleagues with more drive and hustle zoom right past me on most of those fronts. Bravo for them! Perhaps someday soon I’ll decide to really hustle and crack some things out. I’m sure if that seems fun that I’ll do it.

And . . . whatever.

I’m writing this because I want you to know it’s okay to be broke. Sometimes you need to take a job. Sometimes you just need to hustle for a while. Sometimes it will be feast and sometimes it will be famine. Sometimes your big promotion will be a flop. Sometimes you are going to choose fun over work. Sometimes that will happen a lot.

But making more money doesn’t make you a better person or a better manifestor. It doesn’t make you worth more than anyone else. It just means you have more money. Which sometimes you’re going to really want to have.

But, every day, you’ll need to make those choices between short term fun and long term success and, fuck it, sometimes you’re going to choose short term fun. You’ll need to choose between quality of life and working really hard, and sometimes you’ll choose quality of life and enjoyment over working 16 hour days to make money.

And then sometimes you’ll work really hard and not see your friends for weeks because you’re so driven (by inspiration or desperation).

Sometimes you will want (or need) to make six or seven figures. Sometimes you won’t.

Sometimes you’ll have a partner who can support you for a time while you build something. Sometimes you won’t.

That’s life.

And it’s all fine.

Just be honest with yourself about what you’re needing and wanting.

Are there consequences to not having money sometimes? Yes. Is it a drag sometimes? For sure.

But working hard to make six or seven figures also has consequences and can be a drag. And sometimes the only reason you work so hard is to have the lifestyle you already had before you started.

As the saying goes, ‘There are some people so poor that all they have is money.’


Just be honest with yourself about what you’re needing and wanting.

In this industry, there’s can be a lot of pressure to seem successful and have it all together. To manage and craft our reputation so that people are drawn to us and want to emulate us. Truth be told, I could probably care more about that than I do. But I really don’t. There can be so much pressure to create an image that you’re rich and that, if people do what you do then they’ll be as successful as you seem to be. And people can get really stressed out with the posturing and pretending and then live in a constant, low level fear that they’re going to be discovered as a fraud.

I don’t think having less money makes me less successful (I’m pretty sure I’m the poorest of most of my colleagues and I’ve certainly never had a six figure year). I think being happy is what it’s all about. I don’t think overwork is a sign of success (nor, regrettably for me, is laziness a sign of authenticity).

Here I am, with all I know, after a decade in business and I still have times I go broke. If you’re just starting out (and even if you’ve been in business for a while) I invite you to be less hard on yourself. You’ve got a full life. Family, friends, festivals, events, hobbies, books you want to read, a bucket list to explore. Sometimes it’s okay for work for wait til a bit later. And sometimes we work now so we can do those things later. But it’s all up to you.

Ask yourself which you’d regret more at the end of your life: working hard or relaxing and enjoying life? My guess is that answer will be different for different people at different moments in their lives. And that’s okay.

I’m not writing this to glorify poverty or to encourage laziness and irresponsibility. I’m writing it because sometimes I am poor and lazy and irresponsible. And that’s just the truth. My guess is, sometimes you are too.

Sometimes what we need is a sabbatical so we can come back to our work fresh and ready to kick ass. And sometimes we need to kick ass so we can afford to go on sabbatical. Which season are you in? And can you honour that?

And you might choose to do work that, even with the best marketing, may never bring in a lot of money but it’s so damned satisfying. It feels so good. And you may always be broke as a result, but the world will be left richer. My only hope is that you’re honest with yourself about what feels good and what doesn’t. As long as it feels good, keep doing it. When it no longer feels good I hope you’ll find some way to sustain yourself and make money that feels as good as possible.

I wish it were always possible to always have it all. A thriving business + rich social life + incredible romantic relationship + radiant health etc. Sometimes it is. But sometimes we choose things that mean less money.

Do what you want to do.

Just be honest with yourself about what you’re needing and wanting.

I can feel a big work time coming up for me in the coming months where I will be immensely focused and work really hard. I look forward to that too.

I know that if I really worked hard and applied what I know, I’d be making more money. If I focused more on my business, it would grow faster. I know when I focus and hustle, results happen. I know that what I’m teaching works when I work it. I just don’t always want to work it. Or work anything.

This week? I had two big affiliate payments come in plus some more money I’d forgotten about and I’m going to be knuckling down on getting my Niching for Hippies program together.

Last week? I was broke. And I don’t care.

Wherever you are this week – it’s all good. Work when you feel like you need to work. Don’t when you feel like you don’t. This is your life. Your business coach wants you to focus more on your business to grow it bigger? Cool. Do you want to do that? If not, screw what your coach wants.

Just be honest with yourself about what you’re needing and wanting.

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