Sunday, 13 July 2014

What are you worth? How to find out and improve your value.

What are you worth?

Most people will admit to wasting time – it’s part of the human condition, the level of distractions, the interruptions…we can’t help wasting time. Perhaps.

In some respects there’s nothing wrong with goofing off and lazing around or just plainly recuperating – indeed, it is healthy for us to book in down time so that we are more productive when we turn to work. The problem is when we try to work and we are interrupted or distracted.

Nonetheless, we can improve our productivity. Hundreds, if not thousands, of books and websites are available for advice on improving productivity.

Although they provide some excellent methods which should be part of your move to become more productive, philosophically and psychologically many remain superficial.

Consider a person who wants to lose weight.  We can give him or her a review of what should be eaten and an exercise programme, but they mean nothing if there isn’t a core reason to lose weight, something that resounds deep within the self .

The best starting point is what to consider what you want to be. Start with that. Rather than saying, “When I lose weight, I’ll be good looking or feel better,” you need to put the phrasing the other way around and stick it into the present tense. “I am good looking and I feel great about myself.”

Keep saying this to yourself and it will teach you to follow the programmes and keep up that bit of discipline that’s required to get you going … because you are fit, you are good looking, you are slim.

We often get things the wrong way around. Whether it is losing weight or being productive, we often put up a series of hurdles or hazards even that we believe we must negotiate to get to where we want.

But if you see yourself now as being more productive, if you tell yourself constantly, I am a productive person, then you’re teaching yourself exactly what you are … and so creating what you will be.

Being a productive person then allows you to learn properly from all the productivity masters out there. The schemes of work are useless unless you’re prepared to take up the strategies, which means you have to be a productive person – now, in your head, in your conscious thinking, in your subconscious mind for them to be of use.

There are techniques to help get you there involving an array of psychological tools. I’m going to look at one here that I have found useful.

Let’s start with a big question.

What am I worth?

Hmm. A million a year? Ten thousand a year? Imagine there are no obstacles – no hurdles and no hazards – to your achieving  comfortable style of life. What does that comfortable life look like?

Do you have a certain income, a car, holidays abroad on a regular basis, kids in a certain school or being home schooled, a healthy bank balance (a figure please)? Do you see yourself being able to contribute money or time to your favourite hobbies or charities?

What do you see yourself doing in this idyllic life?

See it, then believe you are living it now. Then ask the question, okay, what am I now worth?

Imagine we can put a figure on it. You come up with £60,000 annual salary.

(It doesn’t matter what you come up with, I’m just using it as a figure. Some may want less, some more – it’s up to you, but don’t short change yourself. And for those whose hands shoot up and say that they’re not interested in money but in helping others, that’s fine – what figure do you want to put on helping people? Do you want to give £60,000 away annually in your dreams – or the equivalent in a number of hours?)

If your ideal life involves earning, or enjoying shall we say, £60,000 a year – that then gives you a figure to work out your value.

The next thing is to book goofing off time. Let’s say, Friday nights and Sundays are your chosen times to take off completely from all professional and work related needs. Then add in your other interests – playing sport on Wednesday evenings and Saturdays, say.

Now let’s focus on the ‘work time’ you will be doing. You commute to work. You’re up at 7am, ablutions and breakfasting till 7.45, in the car to work for 9, work till 5, get home at 6 at the latest. Sorted.

You’re in ‘work mode’ eleven hours.

You get three weeks holiday. So that means you work 2695 hours a year. You want to earn £60,000 per annum. That means an hourly rate of £60,000/2695 =  £22.26 an hour.

There’s your base line. Every hour of your working time – commuting and breakfasting and lunching included, because in that time you are tied to either going to work or being at work – is worth £22.26.

Most people work on the hours that they are engaged at the desk or machine: so someone on a £60,000 salary who calculates that they are working 9-5, less an hour (so 7 hours a day on their reckoning), three weeks off, five days a week – they calculate that they’re on £34.26 an hour. They’re overestimating their value by a factor of  1.5, which may mean that they underestimate the cost of preparing for work, being at work (in the lunchtime) and of course travelling. (I’ve not added in commuter costs to keep things simple!)

So, is that what you’re currently earning? Or is that now feasible? Two things come from this: you may be not currently earning your dream salary or your may be earning it but could achieve more (don’t undersell yourself!).

Let’s say you’re actually earning £8 an hour. Yet your dream value is £22 and hour including all the hassle of getting to work and being there.  Is your value nothing but a dream?

It depends – it might be if you don’t do anything about it! It might be if you are unable to gain the skill base to take you to that level. And this is where the reality kicks in. Not that you are incapable of reaching your dream salary … but are you willing to take action to get there.

Taking action is much more important than having a degree, a talent, a skill, rich parents, good neighbourhood, great friends, winning the lottery, etc. Of course, all of the above can be helpful, but if you don’t take the action to improve your skills, maintain family money, choose your habitat carefully, etc., then you might not be doing yourself any favours.

Let your value determine your current actions.

When I work with students sitting exams, we work from what grade they’d like to get on a test – we go backwards from that to see what they will have to do to get there. It’s often not as painful for them as they presumed.

Say they need to read 100 pages of a book in three weeks. I give them two. So 100 pages in 14 days, that’s 7.14 pages a day, call it eight and we’re ahead of schedule! Eight pages a day is usually quite feasible for most students and so the big hurdle has been reduced to a series of teeny ones.

You want to bring in extra money to reach your ideal income (or wealth) level:  find out what you would need to do to earn that higher amount and then take action today.

For instance, do you need to finish a course or do a degree to earn more? Or do you need to cut unnecessary expenditures to allow you to put more in an investment fund or into cash-flowing assets such as property or businesses.

A great way of getting your head around earning more money (rather than dreaming it) is to educate yourself. One of the great places to start is Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad – and the ensuing series. Dan Kennedy has a the classic No BS Time Management for Entrepreneurs, which we can all learn from! And there’s also Michael Masterson’s The Reluctant Entrepreneur and one of my favourites: a subscription to The Elevation Group – Mike and Robert’s seminars and videos are second-to-none both in their content and their ethics.  All of the above have had a huge impact both on my thinking and teaching – and, of course, doing something about earning more money and living the dream! If you're in the UK, one of my coaches I highly recommend is John Dabrowski - he's sharpening my productivity skills: it's always good to have an outsider who can see what you're doing (or not doing as the case may be!). 

Now you’ve worked out your current worth and the value you want to enjoy, you can pick a programme that will help you get there. Look at creating different income streams – setting up a part time business on the weekend or online, investing in a business that could pay dividends later, improving your education and skills so that you become increasingly un-fireable as one writer puts it: make yourself indispensible. To reach that goal will require first and foremost taking action – taking action to get that education, learn about investments, and mixing with people who can get you to where you want rather than hold you back.

But always begin with the end in mind.

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