One surprising benefit of being able to help people through their own money struggles is that I don’t need to lie anymore in my work.
I was recently in a meeting for financial coaches in private practice, and one those perennial questions came up for discussion: “What’s your ‘why?’“
Now, if you work in a business that’s nonstandard (more than, say, your typical office job), as well as one that’s more risky and uncertain (again, more than, say, your typical office job), it’s crucial to know why you’re bothering.
It’s much easier to go to a job, punch your time clock, do your work, and then head home. What gets you up in the morning when you don’t “have” to be at work?
I don’t have to lie anymore.
Please, let me explain.
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I spent a dozen or so years working for tech companies. No, I won’t talk about which ones, but I can safely say that I’ve spent more time working at software startups than many other people who have claimed that as a vocation.
I worked in education and training, going onsite to clients and teaching them how to use our software. I worked in marketing too, drumming up interest for a brand new product in a cutting-edge sector. I even was product manager for a time.
And throughout all of those positions, at some point, I realized that my job entailed a lot of lying.
Lies about the product
I was always on teams that made good products, or at least tried to.
There were occasions when the word came down from on high that we had to do some extraordinarily dumb thing just because someone demanded it. But largely, our product owners were decent and competent.
The problem was that many of the products I worked on didn’t quite do the thing that we were claiming that it did.
It’s not that the software was broken, just that it almost always was fiendishly difficult to do anything practical. I had to dance around this in my trainings and focus more on the theoretical possibilities than the grim realities of actually doing something useful.
This was, to put it mildly, challenging.
I knew that we were selling aspiration more than reality, and I always wondered if people could read that in my eyes. Furthermore, I always worried that someone would corner me on some practical application of the software and I’d have to tap dance around the fact that, well, you couldn’t really do it.
There were times that I wanted to end the charade and just yell out, “it’s all broken!” but I never did. I had a job to do.
But to spend a week in a client bunker teaching software to a group of well-meaning consultants who had no idea that they were being walked off a kind of software plank, well, that was hard.
Lies about me
The other lie I told for years was a little harder to handle, and it happened on a daily basis.
I had to lie that I cared. I had to pretend that I did.
Don’t get me wrong, I was interested in the work that I did and that my team was doing. I thought it was neat. I thought it was good. I thought it was interesting.
But interesting isn’t passion. And I was never passionate about the work that we delivered.
And this hurt.
I would go to retreats where I would sit around a table with developers and other members of my team. We would work diligently all day, and around the early evening, I would start to look around and see when it was time to call it a day.
But invariably, the only thing that would change is that my team members would crack a beer, and then get back to work.
And I realized that for these people, this work was their calling. They would do it even if they weren’t getting paid. They were doing what they loved with others doing the same.
And as for me, I felt alienated, I felt adrift, and I felt confused. “Why am I the only person here who wants to head out now?“
I was always a diligent, committed team member. I just didn’t really care as much as everyone else.
But I couldn’t admit that. And so I had to lie, every day, and claim that my life revolved around this particular job pursuit, whatever it was.
I don’t lie anymore
This past week was an especially busy week for me, full of client sessions, networking, and consultations.
And I never felt like I had to lie once, because helping people with their money struggles is my passion.
And it doesn’t matter the person or the situation:
- It could be a woman who has never had to handle money in a relationship before but now needs to learn because of divorce or other life transition. I love helping her feel empowered.
- It could be someone who works in tech or some other high-paying job who make s a ton of money but never seems to know where any of it goes. I am passionate about giving them control.
- It could be a therapist who is tired of money struggles. I live for getting them to feel more solid and settled in their personal life.
- It could be a polyamorous triad who has never been able to negotiate a successful financial arrangement with everyone involved. I absolutely love building a framework where everyone in the relationship can thrive.
I could go on, but you get the point. I love this stuff. I did it for years without ever getting paid for it (though these days, not so much). It doesn’t get old. I don’t get tired.
And if I were sitting around a table with other people doing the same, when evening rolled around, I would probably crack a beer, and stick around.*
* Obviously, no beers are being consumed during client sessions. It’s a turn of phrase!