If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be an underearner. Underearners are self-saboteurs who don't live up to their earnings potential, says Barbara Stanny, a financial educator, motivational speaker, and career counselor. Whether they make $10 an hour or six figures a year, they tend to live paycheck to paycheck, are often in debt, and have a high tolerance for low pay. Ironically, many work incredibly hard. The good news is that underearning is a self-imposed condition. By focusing on overcoming it, underearners will not only earn what they deserve, but live a richer life. With techniques and exercises that have helped thousands of people, Stanny teaches five essential steps to financial independence and brings a message of empowerment to all those who chronically undervalue themselves.
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A Five-Step Plan to a Richer Life
Laying the Groundwork
"Life is not about finding yourself.
Life is about creating yourself."
-- George Bernard Shaw
Someday is now
How often have you found yourself thinking, "I wish I made more money?" Only to add with a sigh, "Someday . . . maybe someday . . ."
Guess what? There is no someday. This is it! This is the day to start turning your vague desire into a deep-seated commitment. This is the day to shift from building castles in the air to laying a solid foundation. This is the day you will start breaking through your barriers and bolster your earnings.
The spill-over effect
It would be wonderful if, upon reading this book, you went straight into making six figures. And that may happen. Or not. Some of you may already be making six figures and still be underearning. I see it all the time -- people who are professionally successful, yet financially strapped. Earning six figures is not a sure sign you've reached your earning potential. Nor is it the intent of this book. The real purpose is to help you achieve financial independence.
Life as an underearner is not a lot of fun. Being underpaid is frustrating, at best, and often debilitating. Underearning limits your choices, your freedom, your peace of mind, and your quality of life.
Maybe you can't make six figures, at least not right away. But you can make more than you're making now. And you can do it without selling your soul, no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. And it won't be just your bank account thatbenefits. In these pages you will meet people who ended up with far more than material wealth.
"My whole life has changed substantially," massage therapist Cheri Schell declared during our follow-up interview.
Within six months after taking the Overcoming Underearning workshop, she had increased her income by 20 percent, cut her hours "way back," lost twenty-three pounds, stopped using credit cards, started saving, moved to a nicer office, redecorated her home, saw her marriage improve, and had more time to herself.
"I'm making more, working less, feeling healthier, have more energy, and I'm so much happier."
Cheri was not an exception. I was amazed how many reported significant changes in all areas of their lives. Aside from increased income, the most common "side effects" of the workshop were -- in this order -- significant weight loss, better financial habits, more leisure time, improved health, increased optimism, and enhanced relationships.
This whole process begins with one simple question: What do you want? At this point in my workshops, I always ask participants to think about why they came, what they wish to achieve. I'd like you to do the same. Take a moment to think about what you hope to accomplish from using this book. What drew you to it? Here are some examples of what other people have described as their goals:
- Stop using credit cards.
- Get out of debt.
- Clarify my vision.
- Make more money without losing myself.
- Find out what's stopping me.
- Get over feeling "I'm too old."
- Take myself more seriously.
- In my business, I want to see black instead of red.
- Start saving for retirement.
- Quit my job.
- Overcome my fear.
- Earn really big money.
Becoming a goal getter
When you set goals, you are making things happen by focusing your attention, determining your choices, shaping outcomes, and attracting opportunities to fulfill those objectives. "Inherent in every desire is the mechanics for its fulfillment," author and physician Deepak Chopra tells us. The clearer you are about what you want, the greater your chances are to achieve it. If you write your goals down, they are more likely to happen than if they're just stored in your head.
For some, setting goals is a piece of cake. For others, it's a major source of indigestion. Few underearners, especially women, ever ask themselves: What do I want? And when they do, they often have a very tough time coming up with an answer.
That's usually because they're too busy worrying about what everyone else wants. And if they do acknowledge their own needs, they often dismiss them as selfish, silly, or even too grandiose.
Most of us fail to realize that self-denial, while seemingly virtuous, can lead to anger, resentment, pain, and sometimes illness. Not exactly conducive for monetary, or any other, success.
So, in the box above, write down everything you wish to occur from reading this book, no matter how ridiculous, outrageous, unreasonable, or even mundane it may seem. The following exercise may give you some additional insight.
If you still can't think of anything, make something up. You can always go back and change it.
Share what you've written with at least one other person who will be supportive. Sure, telling people your goals takes guts, but it's worth it. A written goal that is also spoken has an even greater likelihood of being achieved. Besides, declaring what you want is mandatory for higher earnings, so consider this good practice.
A few words about doing the exercises in the workbook
- Don't try to find "the perfect answer." There's no such thing.
- Don't think too much. It's best to write the first thought that comes to mind.
- More important than your initial response is what the questions trigger later. Your most valuable insights may come when you're falling asleep or taking a shower.
- After doing each exercise, write what you discover in this book or in a separate journal. Then call a friend to discuss your findings and feelings. Discussion almost always leads to further insight.
Not a one person show
I highly recommend doing the exercises with other people -- your spouse or partner, friends, colleagues, or family members. If you can't meet in person, discuss your findings over the phone or online. When I . . .Overcoming Underearning(R)
A Five-Step Plan to a Richer Life. Copyright © by Barbara Stanny. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.