Take a look at your earnings…in cash

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CareerCampLA: Helping to Build the Carer You Deserve

Saturday, March 27, 2010
Northridge, California

A hybrid conference/unconference dedicated to “helping you build the career you deserve”. The day will include scheduled speakers, ad hoc presentations and breakout sessions on all aspects of building your career. CareerCamp is for anyone who wants to build and/or improve their career.

Here is an exercise for you all. It may sound odd, but I think it will open your mind to some aspects of your career that have been long ignored. This week, if you are working and receiving a paycheck, don’t just deposit it in the bank. I want you to see it in cold, hard cash. I want you to hold the fruits of your labors in your hands. I want you to look at it, touch it, smell it. You can put it all back in the bank when you are done, but for one week out of the year I want you to take a look at your earnings and what they mean to you, your family and your life.

Despite the convenience of modern forms of payment, there is something to be said for the days when you lined up at the paymasters desk and received cash payment directly into your hand. As we have found with other forms of our digital lifestyles there is still the need for interaction with the physical world. We can talk with friends online for hours, but still want to go down to the pub for pint now and then. We can read endless articles online, but still find joy in curling up with good book. We can look at albums of pictures from around the world, but still need to travel to see it for ourselves, touch the sand and see the sights.

So, I hope you indulge my whims this week and hold a stack of cash in your hands, be they Dollars, Pounds, Euros or Baht. You will find this physical connection will bring many thoughts to your mind beyond money. Thoughts that can and should be thought, but are too frequently ignored.

First, think about abundance. Think of everything this money can do for you and your family. Think of some recent purchases and how much of this cash would have been spent on them. Would you have been more or less likely to make the purchase if you had to pay cash for it? Just like when we receive a paper paycheck, our purchasing decisions can be badly distorted when using checks and credit cards. There is something physical about turning over little pieces of paper, paper we earned with our hard labor, in exchange for goods and services. As a sub-exercise, try paying cash for everything you buy during a week and see how it changes your thoughts on money.

Second, take your stack of cash and look at each bill. Now, think hard — did you earn each and every one of these bills, or was it merely given to you? Is this cash an accurate reflection of your work? Do you consider it too little — or too much? This is your week’s labor in physical form — the bricks of the career and financial wall you build each week. How does it stack up against your memory of the week? How much harder would you be willing to work to make more? What would you do and where would you go to have the stack of cash more accurately reflect your work? Is this stack, figuratively dirty or clean money? Does your work contain tasks that bother you ethically or are you making people’s lives better or easier?

Sometimes having a simple physical symbol can energize your thinking. Looking at a stack of cash begs any number of questions about you, your career and your life. It is impossible to ignore, sitting there on the table, running it through your fingers. Thoughts come to mind unbidden and you would be foolish to ignore them.

If you engage in my little exercise, tell me some of the thoughts that crossed your mind. Please add a comment on the Career Opportunities blog or join the discussion on the Career Opportunities Community Site. I look forward to hearing about your experiences.

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