In the past few weeks I have broken free from the struggle with scarcity that has spanned the entirety of my adult life. I would like to do some sharing on how I got here so that more of us can let the cloak of scarcity fall away from our lives.
First of all, what do we mean by scarcity? Scarcity is the feeling that we do not have enough. It is the feeling of tightness and smallness, the big and small panics that we do not have what we need to be OK. That our job doesn’t pay enough, that we might loose our job. The panic that our dental bill is too high, that we’d love to buy those work pants, but what if we need the money for something else – for when the bottom drops out. It is the fear about not having enough. If you sit with it, you notice the tightness, the constriction, and you can feel how it can spiral into more personal doomsday scenarios around scarcity.
I had been reading for years about overcoming scarcity. It may be one of the toughest battles we can fight when there is a very real fear about not having enough to live on. And quite frankly the advice I would read–mostly about thinking positively–would often piss me off. Applying to this job and then that, trying out this strategy to have a side gig while working on my business and then that one. Regularly freaking out about not having enough, not being OK.
But a breakthrough occurred starting back in October. After nearly a year of applying to jobs I broke down and got a job at a donut shop where my coworkers had a positive attitude about life and making a living (versus other jobs where people complain that they are there because they can’t make it doing what they love). I got paid a living wage. I removed a bunch of the pressure to make a living with my writing work or to work faster than my business would allow so that it would support me. I learned to get over my ego about what type of work I should be doing.
I also shifted my perspective on the energy I was putting into work opportunities. In the blog here I wrote about planting lots of seed like mother nature to see which ones come up. No longer would I spend all my time on this job application, or that new skill, or this business accelerator application. I would spread my seeds around, hope for the best and move on. I would be attached to no particular way of getting there. I would spend no time dwelling on a particular job that I wanted and how it would impact my life.
I would state my intentions clearly: I want a job that supports me on my mission to bring my business to life. I want to do this work but I don’t care when and how, but I have a vision for it and I will bring it to life.
And then finally I embarked on a boot camp on trust with the support of an amazing group of women. Trust, trust, trust. And that was the match that lit the flame that caused a cosmic storm of gifts. My intentions were out there, I was showing up for the work, I was planting the seeds, but the trust caused them to explode to life.
I have the job I need, I have the time I need for my sewing, pattern work and writing, I have the resources and a growing community of supporters that are showing up to bring my dream alive in a place that brings my heart alive.
One year ago today, my relationship was cracking under the strain of scarcity, of my fears about not making it. I was stuck in smallness. I could not imagine that one year later, everything I needed would BE. So I’ve put together a short list of things to do to dismantle scarcity in your life if you are still in it alongside so many creative, entrepreneurial folks. Abundance is what we truly are, so why the heck is it so elusive?
As it turns out, those self-help books about the power of positive thinking that really ticked me off were right: You thoughts are everything. Yet it is so hard to dismiss our scarcity thinking when it is based on our very real circumstances. So here are some things I learned to dismantle scarcity thinking in your life, regardless of your life circumstances:
1. Surround yourself with people who do not struggle with money and scarcity. People who complain about not having enough will continue to stir up your fears. We can have some people we confide in and vent to but make sure you are spending plenty of time with people for whom scarcity is not a problem. They will help you see past your limited thinking by example.
2. Get a job that takes the pressure off making a living doing what you love, but only take one where you work with people who have a positive outlook. It doesn’t really matter whether you take a landscaping job, a restaurant gig or an admin job on your dream building path. What does matter is that the job supports the needs you have for your dream building (i.e. that the hours won’t wipe you out), and that the people you work with have a positive attitude. Negativity is infectious.
3. Plant lots of seeds. More on that here. Don’t spend too much time on any one opportunity. Let go of a rigid idea of how you are going to build your dream. This is not the way nature works and we are of nature. Nature plants lots of seeds. Strike a balance between going with the flow and working away at the rocks like the rivers do. Be steady in your efforts. Work at it each day.
4. Make a budget–even if it is a very small one–and start tracking your expenses. Mint is AWESOME for this and can be kind of fun. Be unapologetic about living within your means. After all you are choosing to build your dream so it must be more valuable to you then that fancy dinner with that old college friend, yes?
5. Be grateful for everything. Be grateful for that job where you have to clean the toilettes, but it pays the bills and you can ride your bike there. Be grateful for the modest place that you have that is affordable and allows you to launch your dreams, be grateful that you have learned how to cook on a budget, for those pretty flowering weeds in your garden and the pollinators there.
In short, build a garden of love and trust around you with everything you can get your hands on. It can be modest, it can be cheep (it can be free!). The point is that abundance comes from our thinking and our energy. It doesn’t care if we have a fancy interviewing outfit, or every computer skill, or a 401-K. No, abundance is much bigger than these things. And the only thing that keeps us from the well of abundance that will make our dreams come true is the blanket woven of scarcity thinking, that weighs us down and makes us small.
Why is it important for you and me and our community to stop living from scarcity? Because our dreams will heal the planet. The time is now to do it. Scarcity stands in our way and is not the truth.
I am rooting you on. I believe in you and your dreams.
For more advice on cultivating abundance, check out the feminine economy poster here. While you may respond as I did initially– how the f*** does drinking water make me richer???!!!– I believe you will see the truth in these words over time if you do it anyway 🙂