In any self-help book, you tend to find the same suggestion: that optimism and motivational sayings are more important than actual talent (though admittedly, that does explain some managers I’ve met). For the most part, motivational cliches are just harmless, feel-good gibberish. But watch for these three, which have a tendency to keep you poor:
1. Working Outside the System Will Make You Rich
This is usually accompanied by terms like “originality” and “out of the box thinking”.
Now I won’t deny that sometimes, this kind of thinking results in getting rich. Hey, someone had to start the tablet craze, and the first auction site. But I’ll let you in on a little secret:
If an idea is so ‘outside the system’ that no one’s done it, chances are high that no one needs it.
I’m not saying you’re 100% wrong about it being a good idea, but you probably are. There’s also a kind of fallacious romance behind this: some Steve Jobs-wannabe defies convention, and manages to beat the odds. But consider the financial reality of “working outside the system”:
Apple is a multi-million dollar company that wouldn’t have collapsed, even if the iPad had failed. Remember Apple Maps?They also have a huge customer base, who would buy a hobo’s armpit drippings if Apple stamped a logo on it. Likewise, if Google or Virgin chooses to “work outside the system”, their top managers can fail at a dozen edgy projects without needing a second mortgage.
I doubt the same applies to you.
If you work outside the system, you will fail more often than you succeed. There is no “super genius” that emerges just because you’re being a rebel. The universe, contrary to self-help gurus, does not give a monkey’s ass about how individual you’re being.
Working outside the system can make you poor and keep you there, if you repeatedly throw time and money behind improbable ventures. If you want to do things outside the system, do so at reasonable cost to yourself. Don’t empty your life savings on a start-up just because an idea seems innovative. It has to relate to an actual need.
2. Your Job Should Be Your Passion
“If you follow your passion, the money will follow”.
That’s true, but notice the saying doesn’t mention how much money. If your passion is writing Twilight fan fiction, I’m sure someone out there will chuck a few dollars (or a brick in my case) your way; but don’t count on it covering the down payment for your flat.
As our sometime HR consultant Angeline Seah says: “Some passions are more lucrative than others.”
Almost every hobby can earn you some amount of money. But unless you’re lucky enough to have a hobby in demand (e.g. you like developing apps, or get a nerdgasm when discussing the Capital Asset Pricing Model), don’t assume your passion will send money running after you like an attention starved puppy.
Some of the biggest money-making things you do in life will involve no passion. This is true for most people. I’ve written corporate journals about ball bearings and gotten paid tons for it, but I don’t exactly talk about it in excited squeals.
If you want to make money through passion, re-frame this saying: Your passion gives you the stamina to endure the dullest, most excruciating job. You may hate compiling reports or making Power Points. But if the income fuels a cause you love, you can probably bear it.
Never assume that directly indulging in your passion will bring you money. Sometimes, feeding your passion means doing a whole bunch of things that aren’t relevant to it. Don’t hesitate just because you want to be picky.
3. If You Just Visualize Having Money, You’ll Attract It
I’m not going to mention the bestseller that’s currently associated with this one. Suffice it to say this isn’t an original idea, and it’s been mentioned (in various forms) in a dozen NLP books.
The general idea is that, by visualizing yourself being rich, you will attract money. Never mind that studies show the opposite is more probable. Since no one reads the academic references I link to, here’s a few choice lines:
“Positive fantasies that idealize the future are found to be inversely related to achievement over time: the more positively the fantasies are experienced, the less effort do people invest in realizing these fantasies, and the lower is their success in achieving them.”
The fantasizing (visualization) makes you complacent. Because you already spent all that energy imagining, you’re less likely to go and enroll in a financial awareness course. Or to start mapping prospects for your side-business, or take up certification courses to advance your career.
You feel good when you’re visualizing, but it all falls to nothing after a few months.
Now there may be some upside to positive thinking, but apply a bit of common sense here: if you could attain things by just visualizing them, you should be able to hammer out a Clapton solo on a guitar without any lessons. So instead of visualizing money, just actually go out and start getting some.
If you have no idea where to start, try asking us on Facebook. Our methods are more…drivel free.
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