Back in January 2004, aged 18 I started working for a well known High Street bank. It was my first step out of blue collar and straight into supposedly white collar. Though retail is retail at the end of the day. Only this time I was wearing a tie. I’ve always been about the grit. If I ever wanted something I would do what it took to get it. In this case it was interview after interview. I knew I just needed an in then I could gain experience and work my up.
The concept of wanting became all too intense when I started learning about how loans and credit cards worked. Well, I say learning how they worked, however, what I really mean to say is that I now found out they existed and that I could buy whatever I wanted right there and then. Building up a credit rating subsequently led to other companies wanting to give me credit cards and so began the slippery slope.
I remained at the mercy of my flexible ‘friends’ until the age of 23 when I had planned to go to Australia and needed to shift £5000 of credit card debt. That was the first time I ever really grasped the power of intention and somehow managed to forget its lesson ever since. Knowing that I wanted to take £5000 away with me, I had a year leading up to my flight to go from the red to the black. A £10,000 swing in my favour.
Sacrifice was my middle name. First time for everything, I guess. I stopped going out drinking as much, I bought fewer clothes and consumables. I was completely committed to getting rid of the debt and freeing myself up to having money to take away with me. The feeling I got when I made that last payment was incredible. Being free from debt for the first time in five years was truly liberating.
Despite having $AU 14,000 I asked my mum to ship my credit card over because I drank most of my travel money. As well as rocking a lot of fancy coloured board shorts! And then it began all over again. Drawing out 500 bucks here and there as cash advances soon added up. Before I knew it, my credit card debt had risen to almost £4000 again.
Leading up to coming home I was putting away around 800 dollars a week and brought what equated to be around £8,000 back home with me. Given that I was going to be studying for 3 months and then not guaranteeing an income after that, I decided to use that money to live off of. However, I could never just live conservatively for some reason.
The money started to dwindle. On Adidas attire, gym equipment and needless business costs. Before I knew it, the money had run out, I was paying rent to a commercial gym and I had sod all in the way of clients. Oh and I still had a £4000 credit card bill hanging over me. You would be forgiven for thinking that I am a bit of a schmuck when it comes to money. And it only gets worse.
Fast forward a couple more years and we’re in 2013. The place of work was Covent Garden and I was working 60-80 hour weeks delivering Personal Training and teaching fitness qualifications. Every ounce of energy I could muster up went into working. I could never just relax and chill out. I had this fear that work would eventually die up yet I wasn’t saving anything and I wasn’t paying anything other than the minimum payments off of my credit card.
The only thing I could exchange for money was my time so I felt the need to try and get a business off the ground that would generate me a huge tonne of money. I didn’t quite think that one through. I went on course after course trying to get the ins and outs of the business world. I was going to seminars, business coaching programmes, online programmes. You name it.
Mid way through 2014 I realised that I had to finally face up to how much debt I had gotten myself into. I was actually impressed by my own courage in this moment. So I started adding things up and taking into account everything I owed. At its highest point it was close to £45,000. I couldn’t believe how I had let myself get so out of control.
There have been, in my view, three ‘crushing’ events in my life that have turned out to be the most amazing blessings I could ever have wished for. This was one of them. Being in so much debt, feeling completely helpless and crying myself to sleep more nights than I care to remember taught me to wake the hell up and start learning how to manage money and build wealth.
This week marks the first time in 14 years that I have become consciously debt free. What I mean by that is that I am debt free with the awareness of how I managed to get myself into debt in the first place. The time leading up to going to Australia was only short lived because I still had that consumer mindset which got me back into debt. Now I feel I have greater wisdom to make to more calculated buying decisions. I have certainly learned the hard way.
For the first time in a long time I feel as though I have choices. And I keep asking myself what it is that I would really love to do to earn a living. I have a great thing going on at the minute with teaching fitness qualifications yet I can’t help but think that it has a shelf life as the industry starts to evolve.
Going forward I know that finding something I love doing is of the most importance as opposed to doing things just for the money. For the last 7 years I have said yes to everything purely because I felt that I needed the money. Debt will do that to you. It will make you live in fear and can ultimately control you. I don’t have anymore energy to give to that.
The most disturbing thing about my sorry experience with money, especially in the last 7 years is that it all could have been avoided. Though I cannot argue with the lesson it gave me. You see, every episode I had with money involved giving it away. Buying consumables and depreciable items that would go down in value. In regards to the courses, I got great value but I didn’t have the self awareness at the time to make them work.
And that is the answer. Self awareness. I had made my approach to self employment so difficult because I had such low self-esteem. Feelings of not being smart enough to be able to help people. Feelings of unworthiness as a result of such contempt for myself which I kept projecting onto others.
Contempt is an interesting emotion which I have been looking into quite a lot lately. I found some very interesting blogs which highlighted a lot in myself. Certain characteristics kept popping up such as narcissism for example. This I can most definitely relate to as since being in debt and being self employed I made everything about me and have no doubt given less value than I could have a lot of the time.
Relationship insecurities is another one. Always thinking that my girlfriends would eventually see right through the worthlessness that I am and so I would become distant, cause arguments and then just leave. This pattern kept repeating itself over and over all the while I was blaming the other person.
Expecting perfection from other people ranks high on my list of douche-bag tendencies. I always prided myself on being a perfectionist but all it was doing was covering up insecurity. Then bemoaning when others don’t act in the same way. A lot of frustration, anger and inner conflict just kept pouring out.
The one that really sunk in and hit me hard was that of a ‘Machiavellian’ personality. Truth be told, I’ve always been a shit stirrer because it was how I could get people to like me in the short time. If I could find a way to side with them then it would be by any means necessary. I’m not proud of it and I have begun to stamp it out of my behaviour.
Needing to be liked is a classic case of low self-esteem. Not being able to like or love the self results in us seeking it from the external. This then creates attachment. My attachment all this time was money. I was attached to the promise of abundance, the fear of scarcity and the fantasy of acquiring it with ease. My initial relationship with money caused me nothing but stress. Now I see it for what it is. An incredible tool that can enable one to live according to their highest values.
So what are my highest values? Every few months or so I sit down and take myself through a values determination process. It is no surprise that learning comes out on top and has done every time since I have been doing it for nearly 4 years now. Only this time I looked a little closer. I looked at the topics I study, the way I apply my new knowledge and where I see myself going with it. It all points to one thing in particular. Raising consciousness.
I’m fascinated with human potential. I can’t get enough of studying it and speaking about it. My mates and ex-girlfriends have always thought I was deluded since I got into the field of personal development. Which is totally fine because I know I am right. We’re here to lead fulfilling and magnificent lives. There is no two ways about.
I can’t deny that as I continue to build wealth there will be a Jaguar and the odd Rolex perhaps. Perks of the journey I would say. I now know just how unfulfilling it is to work solely for the money. Knowledge, awareness and intelligence have always been a bigger void than money ever could be. Money is simply a vehicle that can enable me to keep filling that mental void for myself and hopefully others that are on a similar path.
We’re seeing major changes in the way we lives our lives. The knowledge of humanity doubles approximately every ten years according to self-esteem expert Nathaniel Branden. Forbes predict that by the year 2020 (less that 3 years away!) over 50% of the American workforce will be freelance and I wouldn’t be surprised if those figures were mirrored here in the UK.
Now more than ever, I am convinced that we need to find out what is truly in our heart’s mission and start living accordingly. Latest figures show that productivity rates are down meaning less pay rises and less taxes going into the system. A crash is coming and in all truth it is long over due. The world needs each of us to be authentic to who we really are. Not how much ‘stuff’ we have bought using credit.
I thank my lucky stars that I have a clean slate. I have learned my lesson and am now much more aware of my impulses. The key to life is to find what you love that serves people. I have always known what I have wanted to do I just have never allowed myself to accept it because I have always doubted my ability for it.
I want to raise consciousness. And the next phase of my journey is to figure out how to monetise it.