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I had the wonderful opportunity to hear one of my mentors speak recently about her receipt of a very prestigious award. As I listened to her speech which chronicled her journey, it struck me that the key to her success was her choice to approach adversity as a temporary set-back, rather than an obstacle that she couldn’t overcome. She took back control and refused to think of herself a victim of her circumstances.

However, as she continued, what was also fascinating is that even this person, with all of her success, seemed to feel the need to justify the choices that she had made as they pertained to career, money, and family.

In conversation with other women, I find that as a group, we tend to feel guilty about our attitude towards money, specifically around earning money. Perhaps this comes from the cultural mindset towards women and money in North America. After all, the gender stereotypes historically dictated that men were the breadwinners and women were the caregivers. So now that the majority of women are also earning a salary, and some becoming the primary breadwinners, this seems to be accompanied with a great deal of guilt.

As I reframe these conversations in my mind, I think about how, in the past, I have fallen prey to the mindset that titles, promotions, awards, and money define success. The interesting thing is that when those accolades arrive, I am often left feeling empty if they are not attached to something more meaningful.

Women these days look at success from a variety of different angles: career, money, family. And sometimes it seems we are asked to justify our choices in this regard. I wonder if we redefine those buckets a bit differently? Perhaps we could define success in terms of the following: growth, contribution, and connection. Success then no longer becomes a goalpost because there is no finish line to growth, contribution or connection. And metrics like career, money, and family no longer become choices to justify, but rather opportunities to practice this version of success. This becomes helpful because then the promotion, the next salary increase, the wedding, or the children are no longer the goal, they are just different ways to mark the journey in growth, contribution and connection.

Through this new paradigm, I have chosen to look at the money I earn differently. The more money that I earn, the more growth, contribution, and connection possibilities that open up to me. No longer will I feel like my value is defined by the amount of money that I make. I will understand that I have value as a human being, regardless of how much money I earn. Whether the product or service that I am offering has value has nothing to do with my value as a human being. It is simply a metric of how much the service or product that I produce is valued by others.

With the knowledge that my product or service is helping people, I will continue to offer that service, refine it, and expand it.   The more money that I earn, the more value that I am providing, the more that I am growing, and the more that I am connecting with others. I receive money in my life with gratitude and celebrate it as the means by which I can be of service to even more people.

Let’s look at money differently. Not as something that we have to justify or rationalize, but simply as a tool we can use to create more value in the world.