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How to Enjoy More Money and Meaning in Your Life

Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

I recently talked to a new client, let’s call her Elise (not her real name). She reached out to me because she was doubting her career path. While she made a good income, she also wanted to find her work meaningful.

My client’s dilemma is pretty common, and maybe you can relate to it, too.

Perhaps, instead of dreading the idea of staying in your current work for the indefinite future, you would love to feel excited about getting up Monday morning to work on something that you really care about.

However, if you’re like many people, this might sound like a dream — something that only happens to someone who gets really lucky.

What’s really going on 🔒

I’ve noticed that there’s a deeper reason why passionate and engaging people face challenges in creating work they truly love. Often, a particular pattern stops them from going for what they really want.

At its core, this pattern is based on the common cultural belief that people have to choose between outside success (money) and inside success (meaning).

According to this belief, you can either have:

a) a financially rewarding, but emotionally unfulfilling, career 💵(“good employee” archetype), or

b) live your passion, but be in a precarious financial situation 🎨(“starving artist” archetype).

For instance, those who choose the first option may feel like their path is slowly suffocating their soul. In this situation, they may either decide to stay on their current path for financial reasons or, alternatively, they may decide to “take the plunge” by following their heart.

Yet once they have chosen option b) instead, they often find themselves worrying about their ability to pay the bills.

Moving beyond this dilemma 🔑

The way to move beyond this dilemma is to find a third choice — “the better way.” This third option consists of something that takes you beyond the dilemma you are facing and into a better place.

Photo by Brendan Church on Unsplash

In the dilemma of money or meaning, that third choice consists of refusing to choose and going on the adventure of bringing outside success (money) and inside success (meaning) together.

Building a life on the basis of this third option does not happen overnight. It’s a process and — fair warning — you can expect challenges on the way.

I call the third option the path of true success — and it’s a path that is unique to you. ❄️

There is no simple cookie-cutter formula you can follow, as true success depends on your own definition and therefore can look vastly different from person to person.

For one person, it can mean living one’s passion on the side while getting their income from doing other work. Some people may simply wish to make certain changes in their current work to have it be more fulfilling, whereas others may want to create a whole new career.

Here is a short process to get you started on this path:

1. Identify where you are in the dilemma between money or meaning 🚩

If the pattern I described above resonated with you, the first step is to identify which side of the dilemma you currently find yourself on.

Chances are that you already know but if you don’t, these questions might help:
- Do you love what you are doing, but have less financial security than you would like?
- Do you feel okay with your finances but not passionate about what you do?
- Or do you feel you have neither money nor meaning in your life?

For instance, in the case of my new client, it was pretty obvious to her that she felt good about her finances but didn’t feel passionate about her work.

2. Identify what area to focus on 🔦

Once you have clearly identified the area that could be improved, the next step is to figure out what to change.

So, if you have money but little meaning in your life, the key is to focus on anything that brings you more purpose.

Photo by Tim Arterbury on Unsplash

One simple first step to doing this is to engage in weekly artist dates — reserving two hours every week just to do something that feels like play.

This exercise by author Julia Cameron helps you to reconnect with your inner creativity.

In contrast, if you do work you love but are financially insecure, focus on ways to create more money.
This could mean exploring strategies to grow your business (if you are self-employed) or finding side hustles and different ways of generating income.

If you find yourself in a place where you have neither money nor meaning in your life, it can be difficult to work on both areas at the same time.
In this situation, it is generally easier to focus on creating more money first and bringing in meaning later, because financial security is a more basic human need than self-actualization.

It can also be hard to give yourself permission to really explore what lights you up if you are concerned about paying the bills. Focusing on bringing in money first gives you access to a range of resources you might otherwise not have, such as courses that allow you to explore your passion or other forms of support, such as coaching.

While there are ways to explore your passion for free or cheap (such as by getting books on them from a public library, borrowing musical instruments from friends, watching YouTube video topics that interest you), having more money gives you more options.

Have you decided what area to focus on? Good. Let’s move on.

For instance, in the case of my new client, she decided to focus on exploring what could bring more meaning into her life (which included starting to blog about a topic she felt really passionate about).

3. Decide on one baby step 👣

Photo by Nathan McBride on Unsplash

Now that you have decided which area to focus on (either bringing more money or more meaning to your life), choose one baby step you can take into this direction.

A baby step is anything that takes less than 5 minutes to complete and doesn’t require extensive preparation.

Why do I insist on baby steps?

Well, the habit of thinking too big without taking action tends to paralyze people. Whenever you don’t know what you should do to move closer toward your goal, it’s likely that you’re thinking too big.

In this situation, the best thing you can do is to start taking baby steps. One small baby step that you take is better than a giant leap you never make.

As Paulo Coelho advises us, “When in doubt, just take the next small step.” That small step may be a phone call, an internet search, or an email.

So how do you find out what baby step you could take? The best thing to do is to simply ask yourself the question “What is one small step I can take now?”

And to then take that step. Today. If it’s too big to take it today, make it smaller.

For instance, in my client’s case, her baby step was to decide on a topic for her first blog post. It wasn’t to write the whole blog post, or publish it. All that she had to do to complete her baby step is to decide what she would write about.

When you get clear on where you are in the money-or-meaning dilemma, commit to moving beyond it and take consistent baby steps, you will soon find yourself creating your very own path of true success.


If you’d like to get support in creating work and a life you love, I invite you to get access to my free Work You Love bundle here.

A version of this article was first published on elephant journal here and on the author’s blog here.



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Berenike Schriewer, Ph.D.

Berenike Schriewer, Ph.D.

Professional wizard (I mean, coach…) who used to be a lawyer. Global/🇩🇪 citizen in the 🇺🇸. Find purpose, clarity & focus here: