Do you routinely, and for no rational reason, charge less than fair market value for your products or services? Do you take less so someone, less than or equally entitled, can have more? Do you accept gifts or compliments graciously?
There are those who may benefit from a discussion about overcharging and taking advantage, but this post isn't for them. This post is for the legions of people who, knowingly and unknowingly, block abundance from flowing into their lives.
A few months ago, I talked with a woman who runs a busy bookkeeping service. She mentioned that she'd let her assistant go because she couldn't afford to keep her. She went on to explain that her clients were under such financial strain, and she was looking for ways to help them. On top of that, her friends were struggling financially and she'd made several loans that weren't paid back.
I learned that she'd been charging the same rates for SEVEN years, and they were far lower than anyone else around, I asked why not raise them to fair market value. She balked, citing the economy and her fear of losing her clients.
Understanding her fears, I offered her the following:
- No one should work for less than the market value of their work. Should they? Ask yourself. Generally, this question, when applied to anyone other than the undercharging person, is always answered, "Of course not." Inherently, we know it's wrong to pay someone less than they deserve, (though some people feel great when they manage to do so)
- This is a friendly universe and, when left to itself, flows in unbounded abundance. The ocean doesn't count or control how many waves hit the shore, a citrus tree doesn't have a quota that once reached stops its production, the sun does not just shine on the people who "deserve" it. Nature's abundance knows no limits. Align your thoughts with this truth rather than the psychologically driven sways in the economy. Many people succeed no matter the conditions. Include yourself in that group.
- Abundance flows in a cycle similar to breathing. One must inhale to exhale. One must receive to give. Hindering either action blocks the flow and results in deficiency. The entire cycle is strengthened when you and your customer/employer exchange fairly and joyfully.
- People value what they pay for. Paying for a product or service instills an affirmative belief in the object’s value to the buyer. Examples of people failing to show up for, care for, or value what they've spent little or nothing on abound.
Her eyes lit up and I saw that she understood and agreed with me. Yet, within moments, her heaviness returned. Then the truth came out. She was afraid to raise her prices because she felt unworthy of earning more. She didn't believe it was "okay" for her to have an abundant income. Wanting to eliminate any legitimate reason for her belief, I asked about her level of expertise and quality of work product. She was over-qualified, and 100% of her clients came through enthusiastic referrals.
Her finances were a direct reflection of her self perception.
Whether the chicken or the egg came first is irrelevant so long as you can boil one and roast the other. --Laura Day
Rather than focus on why her self image was causing her to undercharge, I wanted to help her immediately. She must do the inner-work required to shift her beliefs, yet sometimes a positive shift in our outer circumstances is an amazing catalyst. I asked her to consider making the following changes:
- From now on, accept ALL gifts and compliments graciously (if the gift isn't to your liking, re-gift it later). Look the giver in the eye, smile and thank them (you are thanking the universe for using that person to give you a gift).
- Research five people who do what you do, with your level of experience and under comparable conditions (geography, etc), average their rates for the same work and raise your rates to the averaged number.
- Learn to say 'No' to requests that make life more difficult for you. Saying no is not rude, rejecting or inappropriate. It is an exercise in developing competent self care. Don't hem and haw when saying it, either. Don't explain why you have to say it, unless you really really really want to. The simplest most effective way is to say it nicely, once and be quiet. Learn to be comfortable with the silence in conversations. It's okay.
- Never make another loan. If you cannot give the money as a gift, do not do it. (By the way, you will rarely, if ever, save another from their plight, you'll just delay it.) If you can give it away, there is no need to tell the person it's a gift. If it comes back in the future, wonderful.
- See yourself as a critical part of the Universal Balance and recognize your responsibility and obligation to support abundance and fairness by joyously circulating resources, giving and receiving.
Bravely, she implemented everything we discussed. Not one has client has left. One even mentioned that he'd wondered how she'd ever made it on her prior rates. My friend re-hired her assistant and is able to take a vacation this year. Her curiosity is ignited, too. She wants to discover more about herself and understand why she'd shut herself inside an imaginary box.
We create our limitations and that is wonderful because, as their creators, we can destroy them.
Cynthia Occelli writes at "LIFE: It isn't for the faint of heart" a blog about overcoming challenges and creating your best life using good sense, spirituality and wisdom.
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