Money and Social Flows

Money is a social construct, but we so often treat it like it’s a form of individual accomplishment. This mindset gets a lot of people stuck.

I think it’s a lot easier for many people to generate abundant income when they think about the social flows. I know it’s challenging to do that though, especially when we get caught up in focusing on our own needs and desires.

In the past I used to think about how to align doing what I enjoyed with income generation. It was often tricky to connect the dots, but that framing got me into the ballpark. The key there was to keep making two types of mistakes and learning from them:

  1. Generating income in ways that didn’t feel heart-aligned.
  2. Doing heart-aligned work that didn’t pay well.

I made both mistakes multiple times.

When I earned money in ways that didn’t feel good, so it was hard to motivate myself to do more of that, other than earning the bare minimum to get by. So I could see that this path would be a dead-end. It wasn’t going to motivate me to do my best. And the lifestyle aspect wasn’t very good. I didn’t see the point of making money doing something that didn’t inspire me.

I also did some nice creative projects that didn’t pay well at all. I think this was the better mistake to make though. It helped me discover what I liked, and when I invested in this type of work, I got better at it, which made it even more enjoyable and rewarding. And sometimes that opened up new income opportunities. For instance, I grew to enjoy speaking, and as I got better at it, I was able to generate income from doing live events.

Basically I just kept iterating. Each mistake taught me something. I kept asking for both abundant income and heart-aligned work. And I did my best not to repeat past mistakes. Making new mistakes was really helpful. We learn much more from new mistakes than from repeating old ones.

What was missing from this mindset when I first started was other people. I focused so much on my own needs and desires and not nearly enough on the social flows. I still thought about money too much at the individual level.

The major issue that keeps many people stuck looping through the two mistakes above is the myopic focus on themselves and their own needs and desires, which doesn’t generate any flow for other people. They’re focused so much on trying to figure out the win for themselves, but where’s the win for everyone else, like the people they may end up serving? That’s the source that provides a lot of pull motivation, whereas people often get stuck when they rely so much on push motivation.

Who are the other people who care about your abundance? Can you list at least 100 specific people? Okay, 10 maybe? Can you at least imagine what kinds of people they may be and where you’ll find them?

Money is a form of social flow. If you want more money flowing through your life, it comes from other people, and when you spend it, you give it to other people. I think we have a tendency to make this too abstract and lose sight of how simple and basic this is.

I find it helpful to imagine that I’m part of a tribe. How does one create more abundance in that situation? You have to think about success at the tribal level, not just at the individual level.

The way many people talk about their goals would generate blank stares if they shared them with a tribe. The tribe might say something like: Okay, that’s nice for you, we suppose. But what does that do for any of us? If you want more money, go ahead and make more money.

It’s important to graduate from thinking so much at the individual level and begin thinking about how to serve and support the tribe. If you become a valued member of the tribe and put some effort into improving it, many members of the tribe will appreciate that, and they’ll support you – because supporting you is good for them and the tribe.

Money is a social relationship. It’s nice to do work you enjoy and have a nice flow of abundance at the individual level. Now can you make that achievement good for the tribe as well? Can you make that part of your intention? Can you give the tribe a way to care?

If the tribe doesn’t care, then it’s nothing but work, work, work for you to accomplish your goals. You’ll often feel like you’re trying to pull money from a source that resists it. You could instead feel that money is being pushed towards you, even when you’re not directly asking for it, like the tribe says: Here, have some extra money.

When you finally figure out your solution to the enjoyable work plus abundant income puzzle, what will that do for your tribe? Answer that question, and you’ll have some semblance of a purpose. Then if you work more directly on that purpose instead of staying stuck on the individual level of your personal needs and desires, you’ll really have something that can get you into the greater social flows.

The game doesn’t end there though. It’s not nirvana. You’ll simply graduate to other problems and challenges, but they’ll be more interesting than figuring out how to pay your bills. In fact, another really good source of motivation is to actually want to graduate to bigger and more interesting problems.

The problems I get to tackle today are harder than the ones I had to deal with when I was struggling financially. What kept me stuck was the framing that I needed to solve or escape my problems, so I could have an easier and more peaceful life. What helped me progress was accepting that I want to keep learning and growing, so of course I must keep progressing to harder problems. Life doesn’t get easier per se, but it can become more rewarding and inspiring. And on some level, it does feel easier when you invite more social support by setting goals that will be good for other people, not just for yourself.

How many more times do you need to iterate through your problems at the individual level before you’re ready to serve and participate in the social flows of the tribe?

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Read Money and Social Flows by Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina is an American self-help author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur. He is the author of the web site and the book Personal Development for Smart People.

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