by Nancy Alder
“Write down something you need to work on regarding your relationship with money.”
This directive was given to me during a workshop in a yoga training facilitated by a career counselor. She was looking to give soon-to-be yoga teachers some advice on how to be wise with their finances. What she did not know was that she had given me a window into my self worth.
My answer to this career counselor's question was that I was afraid to ask people to pay me what seemed like reasonable amounts for my services, writing and teaching yoga. When I got requests for private sessions I always meekly undersold myself. When I got writing jobs I never asked if they were paid. And I was stunned when I heard that two yoga teachers I know had asked for their second and third raises when in almost six years of teaching I had not even thought to ask for one.
The value we assign to our work, our career and our path on a spiritual and inner peace level should be immeasurable. It is equally essential that we are valued by those requesting our services. So why is it so uncomfortable to ask to be paid for what we do? Why do we constantly undervalue our worth and how can we say we are living intentionally when we do not ask to be paid appropriately?
After the workshop with the career counselor I decided I needed to own my worth. I sat down and wrote a list of why my services as a yoga teacher and writer cost what I felt they did. I reminded myself of my many publications, my reach in social media, my training, my years of teaching, of my need to travel to most of these jobs and often the need to bring lots of props and equipment with me. Then I wrote down what I brought to the jobs that was less tangible: commitment, rearranging my schedule, perfectionism, punctuality, trust, space holding and follow up. Finally, I summed up for myself what it cost to get me to the place where I was comfortable submitting writing and teaching private yoga sessions. I included years of yoga and anatomy trainings, countless hours of self-lead research on specific injuries and conditions, years of self-study of Buddhism, philosophy, poetry and lots of learning from rejections.
Most importantly, I acknowledged that if I did not value my path that I could not ask others to do the same. So I wrote down all the magic and wonder that come from both being a writer and yoga teacher. As I saw the words on the page I assigned them a spiritual and psychological value to me.
I added up all these things on my “worth workbook” and realized I was really pretty darn worthy.
I decided from that moment on to ask for what I was worth. I instantly sent emails to people asking me to write for free without any professional or inspirational return. I said no to things I was dreading. I quit jobs that made me unhappy and left lots of free time for my own spiritual and personal growth. I redid my website with information reflecting the value of my work. I committed to only saying yes to things that fulfilled me spiritually, creatively or fiscally. I no longer would say “yes” because I was afraid to say “no.”
It can be hard when your chosen path is in an industry where healing, spirituality and/or creativity reign supreme to honestly own your worth. But if you do not put a value on your own career/path then you cannot expect anyone else to do so either. The moment I realized that I had been undervaluing myself was the exact one I stopped feeling bad about asking people to join me in my journey. It was the exact moment I owned who I was, what I know and what I am good at doing. It was then my teaching and writing became more impactful because I knew it was.
It was the moment that I could look at someone when they asked me what I do for work and I could say with total commitment and pride: I am a writer and a yoga teacher.
It was the moment my inner and outer piggy banks started filling equally.
About Nancy Alder
YOGI + MOTHER
Nancy Alder is a mom to elves, a yoga teacher and writer in Connecticut. She is a New York editor for Mantra Magazine and writes about the alchemy of yoga, mysticism and motherhood at her site Flying Yogini. She is co-creatrix of the eight limb // life a course in finding your yoga off the mat and everywhere. When not teaching or writing about yoga she explores the enchanted woods with her elves and counts the days until the next snowfall.