Posts Tagged ‘work and money’

Wise Advice: Getting clear with money

Nov 28 2012

(from Alan Heeks forthcoming book)

We all carry some anxieties and negative beliefs around money. One of the best writers and guides to help you reach a stage of understanding and clearing is Peter Koenig, and I especially recommend his book, Thirty Lies About Money: Liberating Your Life, Liberating Your Money, ISBN 0-595-29236-4.  This is a short and powerful exposure of some of the commonest misleading beliefs about money.

There is a lot of helpful and free information available online.

Peter Koenig’s blog is one of the best and also has some useful tools, see 

At the practical level, eg looking at pensions, care costs etc, there are a number of useful UK websites.  You could try the following:

In looking for professional help with savings, pensions and investments, you might try local Independent Financial Advisors (IFA’s).  You can get contacts for local ones at  I would recommend that you look for an IFA with expertise in ethical investments.  You can also contact these through

Money – what does it really mean to you?

Nov 28 2012

Peter Koenig : adapted from subliminal messages on money

Beliefs Challenge Exercise

Below are some common sayings, which often also drive our behaviours. When you are dealing with your own money issues, it is worth taking a few moments to challenge your thinking about which of the sayings you believe in strongly (and which you don’t), and why…

Time is money
Money is the root of all evil
I must save for tomorrow, the future, the next generation
Money does not grow on trees
Money is power
It is good to make lots of profit
It is bad to make lots of profit
Money is security
Money is not to be given away except to those in need, or “the children”
Generally, people will cheat and steal from you if they have the chance
Equal job, equal pay
Pay as little tax as possible
Pay bills as late as possible
Bills are unwelcome and heavy
Give to the children
Don’t spend needlessly
Get the best price, at any cost
See if you can find reduced prices
Reductions are more important than the actual cost
Always look at the price first
We live in a world where there is not enough to go around
Receiving puts me in somebody else’s debt
Being in debt puts me in a less powerful/inferior position
You have to fight to get what you need
Anxiety belongs to the process of manifesting things. You have to worry
It is necessary to optimise, profit maximise, otherwise you lose
You are paid for giving time, labour or results
Money makes the world go round
Look after the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves
Penny wise, pound foolish
A fair days work for a fair days pay
A penny saved equals a penny earned
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven
Where there’s muck there’s money
Skimp and save
Save and proper
A fool and his money are soon parted
Money is not something you talk about. You just have it.
Money controls our lives
With money you secure your existence
A business cannot exist unless it makes a profit
Sustainability is dependent on money

How to Enjoy (and Succeed) Going Self-employed

Nov 27 2012

Whether you’re jumping into self-employment or being pushed by outside forces, it’s a fact that the percentage of men who are self-employed, and not on someone’s payroll, grows strongly through the 40s, 50s and 60s.  I was 42 when I left my well-salaried job, handed back the company Jaguar, and sat at home alone in my dining room with the answerphone.  I have enjoyed the freedom of being self-employed, but there are downsides, especially the risk of isolation.

I know many men who are literally one-man bands: it’s hard to sustain your morale and motivation over a long period with no colleagues and work mates, especially if your business hits problems.  Whilst the term self-employed may suggest working solo, there are ways to work with others on this basis.  For example, you could be a sub-contractor to a small team or a large organisation.  You won’t get such benefits as paid holidays or pensions, but you have the freedom to walk away when it suits you.  This kind of set up not only gives you some social contact in your work, but can also mean that you don’t have to learn skills you don’t want to, such as selling your services, or IT.  After six months of working on my own, I realised that I needed to work with people, and that the kind of training and consulting work I wanted to do needed a large team with a bigger range of skills than I could offer.  I became an Associate Consultant of a management consultancy based near me, which meant that I could work as part of their team, but was free to do my own independent work in parallel.

If you are considering going self-employed, or have already made the jump, here are some pointers to help you enjoy it:

Plan before you jump: It’s far less stressful if you can build up your contacts, skills and finances while you’re on someone’s payroll than when you’re out on your own and have to pay the bills every month.  If you know the direction you want to go, you can probably do some of this legitimately as part of your current job, or else do some in your spare time.

–Lower your breakeven: This is explored in more detail in the Money GOLDMINE article.  Do whatever you can at this stage to cut your monthly outgoings, and so reduce the minimum income you need to earn when you are self-employed.

–Look for baseload income:  This means trying to find a steady source of income, probably part-time, which hopefully covers your breakeven expenses, and means that you don’t need to worry if your self-employed freelance earnings build up slowly.  One friend of mine trained as a psychotherapist in his 40s, and when he left his paid work in market research, he got a long-term contract to work two days a week as a student counsellor with a university.  Jobs like this are out there, and you might find such part-time work on an employed basis.

–Figure out the sales and marketing: If your type of self-employed work needs a steady stream of new clients and contacts, you’ll probably find that one third of your time is taken up in prospecting – making new contacts, writing proposals, promoting yourself via social media, having exploratory meetings.  You need to understand this aspect of self-employment, and either embrace it gladly, or consider alternatives.  Becoming a sub-contractor to a bigger organisation who does all this is one good option.  Sometimes you can find individuals or agencies who do this for you, and you pay them for each new client they generate.

–Have some savings before you start: Being self-employed is pretty insecure.  You can’t control the flow of customers, let alone recessions and credit crunches.  Try to start with a financial cushion: not only for the early period, but also to help you out if you hit a lean patch later.

–Know and meet your social needs: Maybe you have a great social life quite separate from work, but for many men, work is a major source of social contacts.  Be clear what you need, and how you can meet this when you are self-employed.  There may be local networking groups you can join, or try to find congenial people who you can set up with as a partnership or small team.  Managing these working relationships can sometimes be difficult and demanding, but a team should have more capacity, more skills, and more resilience than any one-man band.

A cunning plan: Whatever your line of work, it’s going to be crucial to have a business plan.  Finance is just one vital part of this: it also needs to include sales and marketing, skills training, any certifications you need, and lots more.  Ask one or two competent friends to be a sounding board for your plan.  And if this stuff is not your forte, there are good books on these topics.  Even the banks offer some useful briefing for small business start-ups, or you could look for a helpful accountant – there are some out there!

Remember your vision:  You may know the saying, “when you are up to your neck in alligators, it’s hard to remember that you came here to drain the swamp”.  Hopefully, you have a vision which excites you about going self-employed.  Try to keep in touch with that spark of inspiration.  It may help to have a review every six or twelve months: one friend of mine doing tough, pioneering work in holistic health care had an annual half day review with me and another professional to help him review his progress towards the vision, and make sure he did not lose himself in the daily details.

Wise Advice about Self-Employment

If you try a Google search, you will get millions of listings in this area.  Here are a few which may help you get started.

PRIME Business Club is the Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise, specifically aimed at helping those over fifty into self-employment.  You can access some good briefing material through the Prime Business Club, but also potentially make some networking contacts and even find a mentor to help you get started. this is a useful website for a range of situations, created by Citizen’s Advice.  If you search on self-employment, there is a useful short checklist of practical issues, with links to further information. At the time of writing, the UK Government still offers help for small businesses, including the self-employed, and you can access some of this through this website.

Going Self-Employed: How to start out in business on your own – and succeed! By Steve Gibson.  ISBN 978-0-7160-2188-9.  This is a useful, readable manual which covers most of the practicalities, including such issues as sales and marketing.




Be your own boss: Teach yourself by Matt Avery.  ISBN 978-1444111842.  This is another good, practical guide, covering some of the human issues like self-confidence as well as the logistical ones.

Getting clear with money by Alan Heeks

Nov 27 2012

Do you have issues around money?  Most of us do.  And as with work, you may find that what seems to be your problem with money is really a symptom of some deeper habit or belief.  Money is such a big thing in our lives that your attitude to money may mirror basic beliefs about yourself.  For example, if you often feel short of money, does this reflect a belief that no-one values you, you’re not good enough, you have to struggle for everything?  Do you have problems about money in your personal relationships, or with your boss or business partner?  If so, dig deeper to see what it’s really about: perhaps two of you are competing to get enough love, power, recognition, and finance is simply the currency you’re measuring with.  Although your money symptoms, like serious lack of it, may look bad, don’t start here: use the money pressures to motivate you to get down to root causes, to clear the old emotions, and change the negative habits.

Peter Koenig, one of the best teachers on money I have worked with, points out that there are far more taboos on disclosures about money than about sex in our culture.  Think of your friends and even work colleagues: you probably know a lot more about their personal life than you do about their money.  In my men’s group, it felt like a bold breakthrough when we actually shared with each other what income and capital we had.  Because of these taboos, you may not have much awareness of your beliefs and habits about money.

One common belief about money is poverty consciousness: a sense that there isn’t enough money to go round, that you don’t deserve to have much.  Maybe you believe it’s morally wrong to have money, or that you shouldn’t be richer than your parents, or that having money will provoke jealousy and hostility from others.  This may be linked to believing you are a victim: that you are at the mercy of outside events and other people, that you can never get enough of whatever you need – money, love, and more.  There are also people who struggle with having wealth, who feel guilty because they have more than others, who don’t know how to balance spending on themselves with giving money to help the starving millions and the rainforest.  Whatever your emotional baggage about money, invest time to lighten the load.  You need to reach a stage where your decisions about money are led by clear thinking and a code of values you have chosen, and not by floods of muddy feeling.  When you believe you are getting toward this level of clarity, use the practical tips below.

Practical tips on money

These really are tips on a very large iceberg of information.  See Resources for lots more.

–Lower your breakeven: this means reducing your outgoings, so that the minimum monthly income you need is less.   Major ways to do this are: move to a smaller house so you free up capital or reduce your borrowings; find a way to pay off other debts, especially credit cards; make lifestyle choices which mean you spend less.  There are several benefits to this strategy: one is that you have more freedom and power of choice, since you don’t need so much income.  Another is that a less expensive lifestyle will almost certainly be more environmentally sustainable.

–Plan how to meet your long-term money needs: Take a thorough, thoughtful look at your needs and wants for money right through to the end of your life, and evolve a plan of how you are going to meet them.  You may need quite a lot more information and expert help to do this, but it’s up to you to take the initiative and ensure it’s done well.  Include in this plan provisions for medical costs and residential care.

–Understand your future income sources: The pension field is complex, but you need to know what should be coming to you: from pensions and other investments.  And although this is a delicate subject, ask the questions and get clear if you are likely to inherit money from your parents or others.

–Shop around for good advice: Finding truly impartial, objective financial guidance is hard.  So many advisors, even those who seem independent, may have ties, or bonus commission payments which distort their advice.  You need to devote time to finding the good advice you need: ask friends, do a web search, interview at least three potential advisors.  And ask direct questions about how they make their money, what happens to commissions on investments they recommend, and so on.  Beware of ‘magic bullet’ money-making schemes which seem too good to be true: they are!

–Know what is happening to your money: Understand what your savings are actually invested in.  Who is managing them and how, what standards they operate to, and who is making money from this process?  Realise that you have choices, for example in using ethical investments.

–Balance your needs and others’: Try to find a fair balance in how you allocate your spending among different demands.  You want to live comfortably, but can you share some of your income to meet the needs of other people, or the many other problems we have on our planet?  In doing so, don’t just give money away blindly: have some connection with the people or projects you are helping.

Taken from from Alan Heek’s forthcoming book

Best Books for Revisioning Work by Alan Heeks

Nov 27 2012

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.  ISBN 978-0684858395.  This book combines a lot of clear, practical thinking with strong human values.  It should make your work more pleasurable as well as more effective.  You can get a summary of the book and other resources at

The Natural Advantage: Renewing Yourself by Alan Heeks.  ISBN 1-8578826-1-X.  This uses the principles and practices of organic growth to show how people and organisations can combine achieving results with fulfilment and a way of working that is renewing, not depleting.  You can see a summary of the key ideas at

The Age of Unreason by Charles Handy.  ISBN 0-09-975740-0.  Charles Handy is one of the most perceptive writers about the world of work, and its relationship to human needs: including the search for meaning, and to the immense changes coming from technology and economic pressures.  This book introduces the portfolio concept briefly described in Chapter 4, along with other ideas about changing organisation structures, Boiled Frog syndrome and more.  Several of Handy’s other books have useful insights about work: for example, The Empty Raincoat  ISBN 0-09-178022-5 has a whole section on the new issues of what he calls the Third Age, which is the life stage of maturing men.

What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles.  ISBN 978-1580082709.  This is sub-titled A Practical Manual for Job Hunters and Career Changes, and it delivers just that.  You will find a lot of free information and guidance on his website,

Taken from from Alan Heek’s forthcoming book