[Editor's note: this is a re-post from January 2011. Part 2 of a series of year-end posts I write each year. When we migrated to the new site design, all the old posts were archived.]
In my house, there's a never-ending battle that's almost as epic as the fight for the remote control.
My husband likes it hot. He closes the vent in our room and bundles under at least two blankets even during Summer!
My son likes it cold. If it's warmer than 65, he'll turn the thermostat down to 50 because he thinks that'll make it colder faster.
Me? I like it in "the dead zone" - a comfortable 70-72 degrees. Not too hot, not too cold.
Needless to say, we've had a few arguments about this. In fact, hubby and I are finally switching sides of the bed this week because he's been sleeping closer to the vent (which is why he keeps closing it).
But...even more datstardly than our family fight for the house thermostat is the epic battle that's been going on between my ears for years with my metaphorical "success thermostat".
You may have heard it called an upper limit problem - that's a term Gay Hendricks used in his book "The Big Leap." Like a thermostat, our brains have a "success set-point" that keeps us comfortable. When we get too far below that set-point, we get uncomfortable, and start working to turn up the heat on our success. But I had a cap on what I believed I deserved. My "success ceiling" was a set-point that actually kept me earning poverty-level wages. No joke!
It was as if every time my money situation started improving, or things started going very well for me, invariably something would happen and things would start to fall apart. My success set-point kept trying to cool things off just as I was heating up!
In her book "Overcoming Underearning" Barbara Stanny says that "money is a metaphor" and that "under-earning is a symptom" - specifically a symptom of a lack of self-worth or self-love. It manifests differently for each person, but ultimately, it centers on a success ceiling/upper limit problem around what you think you deserve.
This week's episode of Creative Freedom revels how to know if you're a chronic under-earner, how I discovered my under-earning success ceiling, and how I've worked to eliminate my upper limit problem in my own life. Oh, and you'll hear bits of my U2/Journey mashup from the 300 songs project.
One look at the Symptoms of Underearning from Underearners Anonymous and you'll have a better idea of whether or not your current financial state is because of a conscious choice to live on less, a short-term slump, or a chronic condition that's due to something deeper.
1. See the truth and OWN it. Just like a real thermostat setting, we have to make adjustments if we want to see things change. For most of us, we can't just "flip a switch" and solve the problem. Further, the "temperature" of our situation will most likely change gradually. You can't go from 32 degrees to 70 degrees in a matter of seconds - it takes time to turn up the heat! Decide on your new direction. What's going to change for you? Then commit to it, and be willing to make small (even microscopic) changes as you move toward your new set-point. The smaller the better actually. It might feel more tedious and time consuming, but micro-commitments are more likely to stick and lead to lasting change because they don't activate the fear centers in your brain. It's the fear center that triggers the thermostat to go back to what's "comfortable" - clearly a relative term when it comes to success.
2. Be wary of people who aren't used to your new settings. They will be uncomfortable (so will you). I have a colleague that says "new level, new devil". Remember what I've taught you before - you train people how to treat you based on what you've come to accept from tehm and what they've come to expect from you. Changing your success thermostat means you're changing the expectations. Some people won't like that - get used to it. It happens. The key is to recognize when people are trying to change your settings and stay the course even if things start to get a little (okay, a LOT) uncomfortable.
3. Believe you are worth it and stay vigilant! This is where all the micro commitments make a difference. Trying to re-program your brain to overcome years of unconscious programming ain't easy. When you've believed for decades that you're not capable of achieving a certain level of success, your brain may have difficulty accepting new ideas that seem to fly in the face of that old understanding. You need to keep looking for evidence for the file clerk in your head that says you are capable. Celebrate your wins even if they seem "small" or "insignificant" - the file clerk doesn't judge.
Eventually, the new set-point will feel comfortable. It takes time and patience, but it's totally doable.
Under-earning is one of the most prevalent problems of the creative community. From working for "exposure" to donating our time and offerings to way too many worthy causes, creative entrepreneurs need to reclaim their money making power! If you've overcome an upper-limit problem, we'd love to hear about it! Share your stories in the comments and be part of the Rising Tide community!
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