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Earn more money by tackling your mental beliefs

Earn more money by tackling your negative mental beliefs

A lot of people say they want to earn more money, but when you talk to them in a few years time they’re not doing any better.

Most people don’t actually want to be rich. Certainly not enough to do whatever it takes to get there.

There’s no shame in that. Being wealthy has its downsides, and there’s much more to life than money.

Some people are too lazy to earn more money. They say they want to increase their salary, but they’re not actually prepared to do the extra work or take on the responsibility required.

Or else it’s not the very real risks of starting a business that holds them back, but inertia. They sit in front of their PC night after night ‘researching’, but there’s always just one more website to read, or one more funny pet video on YouTube.

Such people may also fear making the changes in themselves that are required to earn more money.

This mental dimension gives us a clue as to why you see some people work hard and have all the skills required to earn more money, and yet they seem to get stuck, or even worse they get into debt.

Mental beliefs are also why others earn more money without any qualms, particularly those from certain social backgrounds.

Think of the ‘nice but dim’ privately educated schoolboys who end up making a fortune in The City. How do they so outpace their apparent talents?

You’ll often hear it’s because of mysterious ‘connections’. Yet that factor is much smaller these days.

I believe it’s because the public school system (and that social class in general) gives you a sense of entitlement that’s a big aid to getting rich. There’s no question in those circles that you don’t deserve it.

If you want to earn more money and you’re from a different social background, you may need to cultivate more positive mental beliefs for yourself.

My own mental money hurdle

Since I became interested in personal finance, I’ve learned that a lot of mental beliefs can subconsciously sabotage the efforts of people who try to earn more money.

But I discovered the phenomena for myself, when my income stopped increasing one year.

Throughout my mid-to-late 20s, my earnings increased far ahead of my peers in my field. Yet around 30 I hit a wall.

It wasn’t just that I wasn’t seeing my income rising. It was that I wasn’t really pursuing new projects, or new goals, or anything at all that would allow me to earn more money. I was satisfied – and yet I wasn’t.

It was only on a trip home to see my parents that I realized what was going on. I was talking to my dad about his career, and I suddenly realized I had stopped increasing my income when I reached his salary!

He was 60 when he reached that income. I was 30.

I think I felt guilty or unworthy of making more than my father who had worked all his life to get there, especially as my freelance work seemed so much more fun and less ‘real’ than his typical 1960s-style corporate job.

Whatever the reason, once I identified this mental belief, I decided it made no sense. And just as a sickness can go away when a doctor explains you’ve got a trivial illness – “No, it’s not a tumor! Not it’s not cancer!” – the hurdle fell away and I began to earn more money.

Earn more money by identifying your hang-ups

I know that to some British readers this will all smack of a certain brand of pop psychology. But I’m convinced it’s true, especially as I’ve since talked to many friends and family members and identified their mental hang-ups about money.

Often my friends don’t explicitly tell me they have a damaging belief – it just becomes clear from talking to them. Whether I share with them my diagnosis depends on how close we are, and how blunt I’m feeling that day!

Here’s some more negative money beliefs I’ve noticed:

  • I don’t deserve to be rich.
  • Only upper-class people get rich.
  • To earn more money, you have to sacrifice everything.
  • To be rich, you have to cheat and lie.
  • You won’t be ‘one of us’ anymore.
  • If you have too much money you’ll be punished for it.
  • You can’t have money and love.
  • Money is inherently evil.
  • Being rich will stop you getting to heaven/Nirvana/wherever.
  • You can’t have money and be happy.
  • More money just makes you want even more.
  • Your friends will resent you.
  • Your lover will use you.
  • Your kids will grow up spoiled.
  • Your dog will secretly hate you.
  • Your cat will know you’re a fat capitalist pig.

Do you have any of these beliefs? Would you rather earn more money?

You need to question your negative money belief and decide whether you think it’s true. If you decide it’s not true, replace it with a new belief.

The interesting thing is there’s a grain of truth in all these beliefs.

Some of your friends will resent you if you earn more money. Some rich people are incredibly selfish. And money doesn’t make you happy.

Yet plenty of rich people have lots of good friends. All entrepreneurs play hard, but some are extremely scrupulous. (And let’s be honest, your cat could probably stand an all fresh tuna diet).

Besides, this article isn’t even about becoming mega-wealthy. We’re just talking about a better income, a nicer lifestyle, and more chance of financial freedom.

Also, once you’ve got past your negative beliefs to earn more money, it’s up to you what you do with it. Money gives you options. If you want to start a charity or give it away to your family, knock yourself out.

In summary, if you’re doing everything right yet you’re unable to earn more money, you might be being held back by negative ways of thinking that stretch back to your childhood.

Should flawed childhood beliefs still be defining who you are? Should other people earn more money or achieve their goals just because they had a different background to you?

I don’t think so.

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{ 17 comments… add one }
  • 1 Len Penzo March 19, 2010, 4:20 pm

    A very pragmatic article, Investor. There are lots of reasons why people don’t realize their true earning potentials, but I think the biggest reason of all is the lack of a can-do attitude.

    I’m not sure if that is the same as being lazy, but many people simply have a hard time dreaming big. As a result, they seem to resigned to accept the status quo.

    I think it’s all about state of mind.


    Len Penzo dot Com
    .-= Len Penzo on: Should I or Shouldn’t I? The Definitive Extended Warranty Litmus Test =-.

  • 2 Budgeting in the Fun Stuff March 19, 2010, 7:42 pm

    Great post!

    I personally don’t try to earn more because I’m good at the job I have and am pretty content in general (and a little lazy…why move on if I’m happy…).

    But, I know somebody for every single one of those negative thoughts (well, except for the dog and cat). I know two people who believe a few of the things on the list.

    From someone who embraces money as a great tool and is a capitalist at heart, the beliefs listed above blow me away. But I’m very happy you wrote this post since it explains a vast majority of my friends. Thanks!
    .-= Budgeting in the Fun Stuff on: Charity Work – Does it Count? =-.

  • 3 Money Reasons March 20, 2010, 1:41 am

    My sticking point is:
    To earn more money, you have to sacrifice everything.
    I was doing pretty well until the kids were born, I beleived that working more would take time away from them, not to mention the risk factor of starting a business while raising a family.

    But now, I think I’m in a position to be a bit more aggressive. After all, it’s not like I”m going to live forever. And honestly, while I’m an above average dad, I still have a lot of free time that could be used in more productive ways.

    Thanks for another great article!
    .-= Money Reasons on: What I Have Learned To Date From Blogging! =-.

  • 4 The Investor March 20, 2010, 11:18 am

    @MR – Good luck with that. As you say there’s so much in that belief that can be challenged. For a start ‘everything’ – no, you will have to make some sacrifices most likely, but you should still see your family fine provided you priorities properly. Also, we should all try to work smarter not harder or longer (this is something I veer from great success to utter failure at myself – heck, I started a blog, which is an insane time suck 😉 )

    Maybe a passive side income is a safer approach than starting a business though? Could be a good way to use that free time you have, and should fit around the family better.

  • 5 The Investor March 20, 2010, 11:19 am

    @BITFS – Glad you liked it! Feel free to pass it on to your friends. 😉

    @Len – I know what you’re saying, but there’s a big gap too for most between the dream and reality. In my 20s I dreamed huge, but if I’m honest I only took the first easy steps towards anything. I didn’t put my head down and charge/grind at all. I stuck to a job that was fun, and when it wasn’t fun it was at least not stressful.

    Now I don’t dream so big at all – I don’t think I’m going to (or should even have to) launch the next Twitter or Apple or whatever – which echoes to what you’re saying.

    Then again, I feel I have more perspective now on the likelihood of success/failure, and what personally ‘big’ would be for me…

  • 6 RainyDaySaver March 20, 2010, 6:58 pm

    Interesting article. I always am amazed by how money affects us and our relationships. Many folks have mental hangups about money, including myself.
    .-= RainyDaySaver on: Fix-It Friday: Light Switches =-.

  • 7 Financial Samurai March 21, 2010, 7:28 am

    “If you have too much money you’ll be punished for it.” This is true. Obama is raising my Federal income tax bracket from 35% to 39.6%, and I did nothing wrong! In fact, I’ve paid more taxes than 95% of the average American!

    “Your cat will know you’re a fat capitalist pig.” LOL.

    That’s fascinating to know you decided to stop making more money after you made as much as your dad.

    How much more money do you make now that you know?
    .-= Financial Samurai on: Treat Your Job As If You Won The Lottery =-.

  • 8 The Investor March 21, 2010, 9:21 am

    @FS – Well, dad’s retired so 100% more. But within a year of my realization I’d added around 20% on to his salary. (I’ve never been a super high earner, as I’ve said elsewhere before on Monevator, but enough to go into the higher tax brackets here etc). The silly thing is inflation clearly would have taken me past it anyway – so it was completely meaningless as a specific number. Such is the strange irrationality of mental hangups!

  • 9 pkora94 March 22, 2010, 6:40 am

    Earning lots will make the tax man happy and you get to spend less time with your family, not that it matters a great deal nowadays as a lot of people seem to be working irregular hours and find they can not get together. Time management seems more important. I blame the retail supermarkets for this nonsense, who would have thought that allowing supermarket openings on sundays would have lead to a 24 hr society as this is where we seem to be heading.

  • 10 The Investor March 22, 2010, 1:23 pm

    Indeed, I have an article on exactly this in the works already for Friday! I also looked at VCTs (which you mentioned the other day) this morning! Talk about listening to reader feedback, eh? 😉

  • 11 Moneymonk March 22, 2010, 4:10 pm

    I love this post, I have to save this in my del icious account!

    Thanks for sharing!
    .-= Moneymonk on: Always think Long term =-.

  • 12 The Investor March 22, 2010, 5:41 pm

    Cheers Moneymonk!

  • 13 Bret @ Hope to Prosper March 22, 2010, 7:14 pm

    I used to have a “limiting belief” about income when I was young. I thought I deserved working-class wages, even though I was working as a technical professional. If someone doesn’t have this kind of belief, it’s hard to explain it to them or even convince them that it exists. They think you are just slacking off or under-performing.

    I overcame my limiting belief after I had a hard time qualifying for a home loan. I realized that I had to earn more money or I would trap my family in poverty. Soon after, my income shot way up.

  • 14 The Investor March 22, 2010, 10:55 pm

    @Bret – Thanks very much for sharing your experience, which sounds like a text book example of what I’m discussing in the article! Good to hear your income soared after your ‘lightbulb moment’.

  • 15 Samurai March 25, 2010, 7:10 am

    Why you so mental? jk PF is all mental!
    .-= Samurai on: Insuring The Uninsured Is Worth It =-.

  • 16 Hooman July 30, 2012, 3:46 am

    Thanks for the post; anyways, do you have any “Changing” method for the beliefs in your toolbox that want to share with us?

  • 17 The Investor July 30, 2012, 9:35 am

    @Hooman — Glad you found the post interesting. To be honest that’s a huge subject, and one I’m definitely still developing myself. Personally I try to read a lot, and try to align myself with more positive thinking. (For example, when acquaintances make a look of money from an area I believe I might have done better myself, I consciously try to think “good for them!”)

    Also, I have found it’s useful to read biographies of self-made entrepreneurs and the like, to try to rewire the subconscious belief that I should only aspire to X or Y.

    It’s tricky stuff, though, and too easy to fall into the trap of Arthur Miller’s undead salesman’s futile chanting into the bathroom mirror. I’d say think positive and try to think of higher targets, but move through small achievable steps towards them.

    And write goals down!

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