So you’re a social worker and you want to be a rich.
Chances are you felt called to your chosen profession from your own experiences and perspective, and more than likely you’re mostly satisfied with your work – at least you know you’re helping people, so that’s a good thing, right?
Yet deep down you wish that you could afford that two-week trip to Tahiti for the vacation that’s long overdue. Or maybe you’d like to earn more money for something more practical like a house or a car or to clear off those mounting debts (student loans, anyone?).
And why shouldn’t you? After all, you’ve earned it. With all the overtime at the office, undertime with the family, and sidetime with the significant other, you’re the perfect candidate for Extreme Makeover More Money Edition.
The good news is that it’s possible to live a rich life and do the work you love. But unless you change the following habits, you’ll never live the rich life you imagine.
1. You don’t own your financial situation
If you haven’t taken 100% responsibility for your financial situation, you’ll never be rich. This is rule number one.
Taking full responsibility means accepting that you’ve created your current financial situation, whatever it is.
I don’t care if you’re fabulously wealthy or knee deep in debt. Unless you accept full responsibility you can’t even begin to create the wealth you so deserve.
For some this idea may prove to be too overbearing. After all, it’s not your fault the economy’s down, and it wasn’t you who raised the bank fees. And what could you have done about that car accident that cost you thousands and, of course you wouldn’t have made that investment if you knew it would’ve gone belly-up.
While taking responsibility for our money states might seem like a hard pill to swallow, the good news is that if you can accept that your actions, thoughts, and emotions helped to create your current situation, then you also know that you have the same ability to create an improved financial state.
Instead of blaming outside circumstances or influences, take ownership of your current money matters and make a plan to change them if they’re not what you would like. Besides, if you don’t do it, who will?
2. You believed what they told you in school
If someone told you that you were going to get into an accident tomorrow while riding a magical unicorn made of clouds, would you believe them? So why would you believe someone that tells you that as a social worker you’re never going to be rich?
You already know from CBT that your thoughts influence your behavior that produces your experience. So it shouldn’t be difficult to see how your thoughts about your income (in)ability influence your experience with money and wealth (and keep you un-rich).
Stop it, ok? And, instead, start to shift your thoughts to how much value (measurable in dollars) you bring to the world. (Now, that’s better!)
3. You don’t want to distance yourself too far from your clients/You identify too closely with your clients/the population you serve
There are lots of social workers that work in social welfare and on issues of the underserved and in need. Many are so attached to their clients that they begin to take on some of their characteristics.
These bleeding hearts so connect with their work that they subconsciously fear they’ll lose this connection should their salary dramatically increase.
As noble as our profession’s mission is, there are no medals for just being able to make your ends meet.
If you find yourself identifying so closely with the population you serve that you share in their poor financial plight, take a minute to evaluate your situation. Your identification with their lack will not help them to acquire wealth…and it sure as heck won’t help you either.
Instead, why not commit to being wealthy so that you can, in turn, teach your clients to do the same?
4. You equate your social work calling to having taken an oath of poverty
I think it’s fair to say that in most social work circles you’ll hear phrases like, “We don’t do this for the money, ” and we find validation when someone says to us, “God bless you for the work we’re doing.”
For many people not only is social work a calling, it’s their religion. And if you look closely, many religions have covertly taught that wealth is unspiritual.
When you consider this perspective, it’s easy to understand why some social workers would equate their social work calling to having taken an oath of poverty. After all, don’t most major religions shun riches in favor of helping the needy?
So much for that oath.
I was first introduced to the idea of “make more money, help more people” by BrendonBurchard. In his book The Millionaire Messenger he promotes the idea that experts (that’s you) share their expertise (that’s what you have) to help more and more people, all the while making more and more money for the expertise that they share.
The idea here isn’t about charging people who can’t afford to pay for your expertise, but about sharing your knowledge with the world in a consumable way so that you can give more away – and for free, if you so desire – and help many more people in the process.
That sounds like a win-win situation if you ask me.
6. You think that being rich is anti-social work
It’s possible that because of social work’s volunteering beginning it maintains much of its association with not having any money.
Perhaps it’s because we’ve determined to rehearse how social workers don’t make any money that more social workers don’t dare pursue wealth. Or maybe it’s because our Code of Ethics sites Service as the first of our social work values – a function not usually associated with wealth – that we think being rich is against the profession.
The truth is, money is a means to an end and has no meaning attached to it other than what we give it.
Hmmm…I wonder what would happen if we said that being rich was pro-social work because it helps us to accomplish more good.
7. You equate earning more money to oppressive capitalism, injustice, and inequality
Much of moving into the Rich Social Worker mindset requires shifts in perception and in defining what we believe we can earn by doing the work that we love. However, often when we speak about having more money we equate this to oppressive capitalism, social injustice, and inequality.
While Critical Social Work and Social Conflict Theory present valid arguments for the deconstruction of an oppressive capitalistic society, the movement of conscious capitalism (which is basically business with social work-friendly objectives) seeks to level the playing field of business and service.
While no model is perfect, no one can argue with the fact that money is a present-day necessity and that the more one has, the more one can do. Why not have more to do more, and use social work methods to accomplish more in the process?
8. You don’t value financial education
Social workers, by and large, don’t value financial education. In fact, many don’t know how to properly manage a budget and most of us wouldn’t know what a Roth IRA was if it bit us in the @$$.
I can speak to this item first hand. It wasn’t until a major personal financial setback that I finally decided that I needed to learn more about money since the lack of it was so impacting my life.
And did you know that there is a Center for Financial Social Work that offers education and certification for social workers to increase their financial awareness? Well, now you do.
According to the universal law of giving and receiving, in order to be able to receive anything that you want in your life, you have to first be willing to give it.
We easily rehearse this truism when we talk about love – to get more love you’ve gotta give it – and the same holds true for money.
Ironically, I find that in social work, it’s not that we’re not good givers but, in fact, many of us are not good receivers. We’re notorious for turning down everything from accolades to vacation time. And although we may talk about wanting more money, our words and actions tell a different type of story.
If this is your habit, think of all the ways you’ve turned away money or in-kind help. Could it be that the only thing standing in the way of your riches is you?
10. You’re passionate in the wrong way
We fight against discrimination, we fight against oppression, we fight for equality, and we fight for the rights of our clients.
However, movements like the one led by positive psychology lend themselves to the kind of passion that supports people and causes, rather than fights against them.
So, instead of fighting against discrimination, be pro equal rights and inclusion. Instead of fighting against oppression, be pro democracy. And in the way of money, instead of being passionate about eliminating debt, you could be passionate about creating wealth.
The shift may seem minute, but the difference can mean a dramatic increase in your happiness and in your bank account.
11. You like the struggle
Believe it or not, there are people who like to struggle to make ends meet. You may not recognize them at first, but if you pay attention they’ll tell you who they are by the words that they use.
They’ll say things like, “The way I see it, I’ll always be in debt,” or, “I never have enough, but somehow things always work out.”
Believe it or not, I used to be one of these people. Unbeknown to me I didn’t realize that the pride I had felt as a child when overcoming obstacles had carried over into my adult financial life.
I prided myself on being able to survive on “just enough.” And because I had no idea this was a cherished part of my personality, each month I dug a hole deeper and deeper in debt causing me more pain, but allowing me to prove, once again, that I could still survive. I even subconsciously repealed more wealth because I didn’t want to lose my connection with my inglorious battle.
How crazy is that?!
Thankfully I got some help to look at my patterns and decided to make some drastic change. But if this is you or someone you know, send them this article to help them start their change.
12. You don’t know how to appraise your worth
And while these types of things are normal occurrences for social workers, corporations and other for-profit organizations are willing to pay top-dollar to have some of what we’ve got.
Because most social workers don’t work in corporate settings, the vast majority don’t know how valuable their skills are outside of our more common agency and NGO practice arenas.
Subsequently, many don’t know how to appraise that value and earn what they’re worth, so get left with the short end of the stick.
13. You don’t promote your value to others
While there does seem to be a “wrong way” to show others your talents and skills, the reverse is that the people who need those skills and talents will never know that you have them or be able to benefit from them.
There is a way to tell others about your skills and services without being “salesy” or pushy, and any if you truly want to help people, it’s to your advantage and theirs that you let people know what you can offer.
The good news is that not only do you get to help more people in the process, you may actually get to make more money because of it.
14. You don’t associate with rich people or resources
Learning to be rich is just like learning any other skill.
When you wanted to learn to walk, you followed those that were walking. When you wanted to learn how to read, you studied with those that were reading. So now that you want to learn how to increase your wealth, you’ve got to employ the same strategy and spend time with those who have already accomplished what you want and learn from them – or, at least, learn what they learn.
As with anything in life, a change in your behavior results in a change in the behavior of others. That is to say that if you’re fearful of losing some of your friends because of your choosing different associations, you should be. Most people don’t like change when it’s forced upon them. So if you intend to adjust your relationships, you’d better get prepared for the riches that have to come your way.
15. You think it’s impossible so you don’t even try
Social workers especially know that our clients’ thoughts and beliefs have creative power to influence their outcomes, so why would that not also be true for us?
When we focus our attention on the impossibility of an outcome, we subsequently give power to that impossibility.
However, when our energy and attention is focused in the direction of what we desire, paying no attention to what we fear, we then give power to that possibility and are more likely to see the outcome we so choose.
If you’re underestimating the power of your thoughts to create the riches that you want to see in your life, stop it right now. This is your life and you get to make it up the way you choose. No one can think your thoughts but you, so why not make them positive and in the direction of your dreams?
If anyone ‘deserves’ to be rich it’s social workers just by the mere fact that we work for the betterment of society and the world – the world.
Make a commitment to your future self today that you’ll do whatever it takes to rid yourself of any limiting beliefs you have around money and learn what it takes to increase your influence and your bank account.
All the extra people you’ll get to help will thank you.