By Rebekah Aarons
About a year ago, I reached out on LinkedIn to a friend who ran a financial planning business in Sydney. When I met him and his fiance for advice, I was immediately impressed with the unique process they were following. How novel that they would go to the trouble of understanding my personal goals first, and then create a financial plan to achieve them.
What started as an attempt to get my financial house in order, led to a great deal of soul searching on my part, and ultimately some life changing decisions. How was I going to answer these absurd questions such as: where do you see yourself in 10 years?, what do you want your legacy to be?, do you even care about leaving a legacy?, what are your values?. Values? Apparently values dictate the importance I place on my different goals, and influence the focus of my financial plan.
I was no financial basket case by any means as I had been applying some solid money principles since my part-time high school job. Separate bank accounts for savings, bills and spending, check! Always paying myself first by saving a portion of my wages, check! Having the right insurances and a will, check!
However, after a bad experience in the share market during the GFC, I had developed some bad habits and had let my emotions take over my attitude towards money. I knew I had inherited a conservative and sensible approach to money from my parents, but one bump in the road, and I had lost my way.
What was the point in saving? I was better off 4 years ago, and now I had to start from scratch. I was definitely letting my previous experience with money dictate my current attitudes and actions towards it. I was tempted to wait until I had saved a small lump sum, or wait until I had changed my job (which I knew in my heart I wanted), but my friend’s advice was to start now and start small!
By discussing my plans openly, my goals became clearer and clearer. I discovered that my conflicting values of Financial Security versus Personal Fulfilment were paralysing me from making a change to my work situation despite knowing I was unhappy. The value I placed on never having to worry about where my next pay cheque was coming from was preventing me from thinking outside the box of how I could make a living from something I enjoyed doing.
We identified that one of my financial goals was to build a 3-month cash buffer to make a change to my work situation that may cause a temporary or permanent drop in income.
We talked about finding ways to increase my earning capacity. I cannot begin to explain how much I had never really considered this. Sure, I worked hard for my annual pay increase, I even plucked up and courage once or twice to ask for a pay rise. I have always invested in education and said yes to any courses that were thrown my way by my employer, but had I really sat down and devised a strategy to earn more money, more than just 1 or 2 per cent above CPI? No, because I thought the only thing I had real control over was how much I spent, saved & invested. These were the only 3 variables.
This was the turning point for me, and within 2 months of identifying this goal, I had changed industries so I could earn more (as my skills were suddenly niche and valuable) and to work less hours (and by that I mean actually working 40 hours, instead of 60-70).
This new found freedom allowed me to undertake a 6-month part time Personal Training course, something that I had always been interested in. Could I make money out of this, better yet, could I earn a living doing this? All of a sudden, it didn’t seem absurd anymore.
Over last Christmas, I set up my outdoor fitness business, Glow Fit, traded my Personal Training skills with a Graphic Designer who created my logo, advertising materials and website, all ready to launch the day after I graduated.
I am now in the 3rd week of my outdoor boot camp and personal training business, and I have 4 boot campers signed up, 2 personal training clients and approval from my workplace to reduce my hours to 3 days per week for a 4 month trial period to grow my business.
Applying the principles of slow and steady progress against clear defined goals, along with my interaction with an incredibly supportive female entrepreneurial networking group called The League of Extraordinary Women, I am now focused on turning my business into a full time job that gives me both financial security and personal fulfilment!
Rebekah Aarons is the Founder and Head Personal Trainer at Glow Fit Outdoor Fitness. Rebekah wants to empower women through fitness and believes in loving what you do and surrounding yourself with inspirational people. You may connect with Rebekah on Twitter at @GlowFitAust, Facebook and Linkedin.
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