When it comes to your financial and professional life, almost nothing is scarier than taking the first step towards following a dream. There is a point in most of our lives when we aspire to change careers, move somewhere new, start a business, or commit to something huge — when we need to close our eyes and take a leap. Maybe this means tapping into savings, maybe it means quitting a job, maybe it means asking for help. But it always means that we are going from “being the person who talks about what they want to do” to “being the person who actually does it.” And for most of us, who weren’t born with an unlimited amount of financial or professional security, that involves a serious investment: We have to invest in ourselves, emotionally as well as financially, and decide that we are capable of the thing we’ve been dreaming about. We have to trust that we’re big enough to handle the logistics, figure out the problems as they arise, and see through our vision to its finish line. And that Emotional Investment is actually the title and subject of one of the latest episodes of Umpqua Bank’s Open Account podcast with SuChin Pak.
As you might remember, I actually interviewed SuChin here on TFD last fall about this very podcast, and what drove Umpqua Bank to start talking about money in a way most of us usually avoid, let alone make an entire podcast about. She told me that when it came to money and emotion,
“The only money lesson I learned from my parents was to stress about it, always be on guard and to be on the lookout for the thing that would ruin you. I’ve had to unlearn this bit by bit with training wheels. I never had a problem with saving, but I have a huge problem with feeling secure about what I have, about spending without guilt and self-hate.”
For her, hosting a show like Open Account, which goes past the hard numbers and rote advice that most financial programs focus on to talk about the human and emotional side of money, was a natural fit. Just because someone is successful doesn’t mean that they are naturally great with money, or don’t have a hard time managing it. And the grey area between “just starting out” and “getting to a place of financial success” often involves a lot of unflattering struggle that most of us would rather gloss over.
Which is why shows like Open Account are so important, and why we’ve partnered with Umpqua to share it with you guys. In this episode from the new season, SuChin speaks with five different small business owners — from a bestselling author, to a restauranteur; and designers — who find that the purely-financial element of following your dreams is often one of the easier parts. Whether they were overcoming addiction, or radically altering their expectations of what being self-employed would actually look like, each one of these “success stories” involved a serious amount of personal sacrifice and change that went far beyond a dollar amount. For all of them, it was a steadfast focus on their vision, and the people they kept around them who held them accountable, that made each of their unique dreams a reality.
Yes, if your dreams lie in entrepreneurship specifically, you will need to navigate the finances and manage your money properly. But the bigger demons are the ones that prevent us from doing our best work because we won’t be honest with ourselves, or work well with people, or get out of our own way. There is no loan that will magically make you confident in your decision-making. Eventually, you will have to emotionally invest in yourself, and decide that you are the CEO of your own life, as well as, perhaps, your own business. And even for the people on this podcast who seem up at the top of “climbing your dream” mountain, there was a time when that confidence wasn’t so obvious.
Ultimately, money has to be something much more than numbers on a spreadsheet. It has to be something you trust yourself to handle in a way that will enable you to achieve greater goals, even if it means seriously delayed gratification. And the first step to having that healthy emotional relationship is talking about it — your failures, your fears, and your financial hang-ups. Everyone has something useful to say about money, it’s just up to us to listen to each other.