Reflexions on getting career advice, knowing your worth and money mindset

IRL experiment! Not intentional but fairly interesting, in my humble opinion!

Note: pictures are of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain because I felt the design of such an amazing museum was somehow a great visual representation of today’s topic!

Forewords & background info in case you missed the other parts!

If you haven’t read any of my previous articles on such matter, here is a little summary of important points:

Until recently, I used to be pretty happy that I managed to keep a consistent 15 to 20% yearly income increase. Working independently isn’t easy and it took me while to be confident in my added value. It took me a while to gain the trust in myself to accept that I was worth it. My clients had no problem with my fees, yet I wasn’t, probably because I didn’t know my worth.

As mentioned previously, one of my 2 clients contacted me for some additional work and this will lead to a 300% yearly increase of my income. Not this year, as it happened mid-year but it will still be significant this year. It freaked me out!

Look, I haven’t won the lottery, so no need to come to me with investment advise!

Anyway, as mentioned in the piece linked above, at first I rejected the offer. This honest & argued rejection is probably what got them to insist on having me on board with such project. We worked it out. It took a bit of time to implement it. And now here I am. With a new & significant income stream.

I have yet to completely settle into the role, find my balance. Even if I’m independent, it still kind of feels like getting a new job. I still need to learn the ins and outs of the business, get to know the people, what is expected of me, etc.

That part is going to take probably the rest of the year actually. It’s ok with me. It’s normal.

Meanwhile, I’m getting organized with my accountant to optimize the workflow between us, anticipate on social charges and income taxes.

These are practical things to do. It’s business. In reality, the most difficult part for me is to work on myself and especially to continue to work on my money mindset.

IRL money mindset examples that got me thinking a lot

I wanted to share the below story because I got an IRL example of a conversation which showed very different money mindsets. This got me thinking a lot about my own. You can read many articles on the topic and still have troubles defining where you stand. I’ve been at this for a while now and certainly still have troubles pointing to exactly where I stand! It’s an evolving notion and I think it’s fine this way.

Are my hesitations, to negotiate my fees for example, inherited from my parents? They weren’t rich but we never lacked anything. I never got everything I wanted growing up, but I had everything I needed. Is this mentality holding me back? I actually don’t want to blame my parents for this. It feels too easy to me.

We may inherit a lot of things from our parents, but we do have our own path, our own sh#@! to own.

Anyway, when I was struggling with the offer I received, I spoke to some friends about it. I tried to explain my turmoils, my priorities, the implications this could have, the work load it could represent… basically the pros and cons. They clearly didn’t understand my points, my hesitations, my doubts.

They were all about the money in, even if I never mentioned exact figures to them. I could see $$$ signs sparkling in their eyes. They were brushing off my worries with ‘just accept and figure out the rest later’.

What stroke me after such conversation was 2 fold. What seems to be their incredible confidence in their own worth and their totally different money mindset is the first one. The fact neither of them is doing great financially despite this is the second one.

To me it’s ok to have professional low. It happens, to be laid off, to accept a job that is not 100% what we want while we figure things out or else. The important part is to be able to bounce back. Not quite sure this is what is going on for such friends, I’m actually slightly worried for them at the moment.

I realized later that maybe I shouldn’t have spoken to them about this in the first place.

Getting career advise from friends isn’t always easy or in your best interest!

You know how you learn to turn to one friend for relationship advise and not this other friend. Maybe this other friend just got divorced, or maybe is just not in a good place at the moment.

Well, it’s the same with career advise really!

The best advice might not come from a friend who is chronically unemployed, the one who always has to change job because their boss is always horrible, or they simply dared to make such and such requests ie their boss asked them to do their job!

The best advise might not come either from the friend who is always scared to change job and stays way too long, because of such fear.

And the best advise might not come either from your friend who is a serial job jumper, fighting nail and tooth for the next salary increase, just to enable their next jump.

One way to mitigate this issue, might be to ask several friends for advice. You probably won’t come out with more clarity, but you will at least hear about different options, different views.

Indeed it can be really hard actually to turn to the right friend to get career advise. Everyone is going to give you advice based on their own experience and money mindset, not based on your situation, your own values and your risk aversion. It’s absolutely normal but crucial to recognize it, when pondering on the advises you got.

One great example of this is the recommendation my friends made during the discussion we had. “Just get an assistant” they said! It seemed so obvious to them that this was the only answer to sort out all of my issues! Like: a boss has to have a secretary, it’s just the way it goes! To prepare the files, to draft agreements or whatever. Arrrgh!!

In principle and in general, this isn’t a terrible idea. It doesn’t work in my line of field.

For one, my clients do not pay me to delegate! They pay for my brain, my expertise, my experience! And in any case, they have small armies of lawyers, tax advisors, administrative assistants and else to prepare everything. They do not need me to do these things and in turn, I do not need an assistant to do such things.

This alone showed me that my friend didn’t understand my role in general, what were the specificities of the offer, my struggles… It’s ok I guess, but I thought at least one of them was well aware. I was wrong and it was actually unfair of me to think that.

Anyway, looking back, this was a great experiment. I didn’t call them to experiment on them. I was genuinely looking for advise. Nevertheless, it got me thinking a lot and I am thankful for it.

Admittedly, their slightly reckless ‘go for it‘ attitude may have helped me accept the offer. Not in a reckless way but in a very methodological and well thought approach. As mentioned above, my first reaction was to decline the offer. My client thereafter revisited the offer, came back with more details and we were able to move forward because meanwhile I had also given further thoughts on the implication of such change and the organization required.

No, I won’t be getting an assistant, but it seems that my accountant will be able to manage some daunting parts for me. That’s a plus!

Obviously, also meanwhile, my partner & I discussed this change several times. We discussed in length the implications this could have on both our lives. The good and the bad. The organizational changes that will probably be required… Yes we talked about the additional income this represented! We considered how it will be helpful with the mortgage on our new apartment. As I had mentioned previously, we never married, we always had separate accounts and the apartment is our first investment together. We share expenses but handle our money separately. His opinion is still highly valued.

Maman-by-Louise-Bourgeois-the-Guggenheim-Museum-Bilbao-Spain

What does it mean to know your worth?

I don’t have an answer for you actually!

But bear with me for my own nugget of wisdom.

People seem to throw ready made quotes about ‘knowing your worth’. It is something you should know, something on which you shouldn’t compromise. When you know your worth, you respect yourself. You do not accept to be treated poorly.

The friends, I referred to above, seemed to know their worth! But do they really?! Maybe as a whole human being they do. In terms of business value, I’m not quite sure they do.

You see…

In business, your worth is dictated by market practice. A house keeper and a lawyer do not invoice their clients the same fee rate. It’s like that. You could argue that you are the absolute best cleaner in the whole wide world, and you may become the best ever paid cleaner, but your fee rate will probably still be far off the worst lawyer’s fee rate.

In addition, market practice often vary greatly from one place to another. A big city accountant usually cost more than the ones located in countryside town. Fees (and salaries) have pretty much always been based on the cost of living in the area the services are offered. (Yes, the pandemic may change this slightly in the future, maybe not, we shall see)

This means your professional worth is not just just based on your own worth, on your incredible expertise, or on your diligence, on your kindness or the sum of all your incredible qualities and expertise.

This also means you shouldn’t consider your worth, based on your income! Obvious, I know! But worth repeating to yourself when in doubt.

How does this tights up to my ever evolving money mindset?

If my brain was blurry for a time, at the idea of getting much more money, it has now cleared out. I’m getting organized on how to handle the work load and I gain confidence on how to handle the income increase. Basically: pay sh@#tload of social security & taxes, save and invest the rest!

My budget will remain pretty much the same but I don’t need to stress out on the extra expenses the new apartment represents. I had already saved the cash for these but it was painful to know I would actually have to spend it! It’s not anymore.

My money mindset had already greatly evolved in the past years or so. I’ve written quite a few pieces about this!

  • Money mindset shift is a piece I wrote a little after the offer I got. It’s raw and shows my despair and fears!
  • Saving money isn’t enough where I describe how I didn’t follow any of the advises I received and still increased my income by 15-20% each year!

You can find all the articles I published with the tag “Money talk“. It includes my no-buy challenge year and you will therefore also find in this category, articles on budget and savings. I actually really like this one on profit margin and time management!!

However I also know that my money mindset will evolve again. It doesn’t mean it is directly linked to my income, but for me, it’s pretty obvious that earning more, saving more and investing more, will lead to further changes. Time will tell.

I do remind myself often that I absolutely do not want to sacrifice my freedom in the pursuit of money. And I think this is the part that was not clear at all, for my friends, or at least they didn’t see the importance of it.

Hope this long piece, this story & bundle of reflections will somehow be useful to you. Hope it can lead to some reflections on your side, on how your friends may have influenced you or on how your own money mindset may have evolved… Let me know if you think I misread my friends or else!