“Women, in particular have a tendency to undervalue themselves, which is precisely what keeps so many earning beneath their potential…They regularly give away their time, knowledge, and skills for nothing. They’ll work at no charge without thinking twice. Most of the time, it’s so ingrained, they aren’t even conscious they’re doing it.”
– Barbara Stanny, Secrets of Six-Figure Women
Time is the single biggest asset in your life. It is the only resource that once you’ve used it, you can’t have it back. Think about it: Money, you can spend and then earn more to get it back. But time that has been spent or wasted cannot be earned back.
Unfortunately most women do not put value on their time. Far too often women say “yes” to a request for their time without ever calculating the cost of their decision. They give away their time, knowledge, skills and experience for free or bargain prices. In other words, they put everyone else’s needs before their own. Even with a long list of things to accomplish on their 24-hour ‘to-do’ lists, most women don’t put a price on their precious time!
I want you to know that what you choose to do and refuse to do with your time says a lot about the value you place on yourself. There’s a reason for the expression: “If you don’t value your time, nobody else will.”
Some women think that if they do good work, they will be compensated well for their efforts. Others think that the world will some day see their talent and finally pay them what they deserve. They wait around, halfway defeated, for the day when someone will pay them more money. If you are someone operating with these beliefs, I have to break it to you … IT DOESN’T WORK LIKE THIS.
You have to value your time before anyone else will.
As American writer Carl Sandburg once said: “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”
As I said earlier, I never dared to ask for a raise in any of the jobs that I had. Although my brother pointed out to me over and over that I was being used and that I should demand a much higher salary for the hours that I was working, I kept answering him back with excuses. “I love my job. I feel lucky that they pay me for what I love doing. As long as I get enough to cover my expenses and a few extra things that I wish for, then I don’t need more,” I said. I would even go as far as saying: “Money isn’t that important to me and I would even do this work for free.”
I used all the excuses and justifications that we tend to give when we know that we don’t have the amount of money that we wish for – but we don’t know how to get it.
Like so many women, I hung onto these excuses to stay in my “comfort zone.” But is de-valuing yourself really a comfortable place to be?
Belief Systems That Sabotage.
I’ve noticed that whether I am talking to a high-level professional or to a stay-at-home mom, women across the board are treating themselves, their services, and their abilities as if they were always on sale. It’s as if women believe that helping people and making money don’t go together. While it can be noble to take care of others, repeatedly putting others first at their own expense is what keeps women stuck in a pattern of under-earning.
Here are some common beliefs that I found occurring in women:
- They are afraid others will think badly of them if they say ‘no’.
- They think giving priority to themselves and their dreams is selfish.
- They think if they charge too high of a rate, people will not hire them.
- They think that volunteering should be made a priority. (Yes, volunteering is a wonderful thing to do – but the question is whether there is a balance between how much time you are giving on a volunteer basis and how much time you are giving for paid work.)
- They believe that the act of giving generates abundance. (Yes, giving is essential in creating abundance and generating wealth – but the question is whether there is a balance between giving and receiving in your life.)
Years after my brother pointed out to me that I needed to ask for more money, I realized that I never asked for a raise because I didn’t really put any value on my services. As Suze Orman says in her book Women and Money: “When you undervalue what you do, the world undervalues who you are. And when you undervalue who you are, the world undervalues what you do.” It’s a vicious cycle!
Let’s take a closer look at what is going on here.
History of Women’s Worth.
For centuries, women’s time was not considered important. Their working hours at home were not considered a value to be measured by money. Women were taught that they were supposed to do good things for others without expecting a reward for themselves. They were in effect programmed to believe that they were worth less in economic terms. Add to this the unconscious shame women carry around from the “original sin” that we talked about in Chapter 1. This extensive condition of women not valuing themselves is a shameful secret that women keep, too embarrassed sometimes to even tell their closets friends!
Women Who Undercharge.
If you remember from the previous chapter, one of the messages that I received when I was growing up was “We can’t afford it.” So when Nisandeh and I were taking our steps toward building financial freedom, we realized that both of us had this message in our blueprint. In order to re-condition ourselves with a new, financially-positive habit, we decided that instead of saying “We can’t afford it,” we would say, “How can we afford it?” This meant that instead of stopping ourselves short, we were conditioning ourselves to find ways to have something that we wanted.
For us, one of our favorite ways to “spoil” ourselves is to get a massage. So we agreed to try out getting a massage once every two weeks by a masseuse who was willing to come to our home.
The first masseuse that we found was someone that we had known for nearly three years, Helen. She was an excellent massage therapist! However, since she had just moved to Holland (from Israel), she felt that she couldn’t charge as much as other massage therapists.
We kept telling Helen that she was an excellent masseuse and that she should double her prices, but Helen was afraid that if she did that she would not have any clients.
Helen’s situation was that she was trying to get her residence permit. She came to Holland because she followed her heart (her boyfriend was Dutch). In order to get her permit, she had to prove that she had a regular salary. So she went to work at an official massage company that would give her a salary. She was willing to accept the incredible long shifts and amazingly low pay that they gave her just because she thought this would give her the official proof she needed for her permit.
No matter how many times I tried to tell her that if she would raise her rate and have a steady base of clients like us, she could prove just as well to the authorities that she had enough income for her permit. But she was afraid of doing this.
The sad point was that because she had low rates, her clients tended to cancel on her whenever they felt like it. They took her for granted because she wasn’t willing to stand up for what she was worth.
Actually, the worst part of this story is that the place where she worked the most (the company I mentioned) kept canceling her contract a few weeks before she would need to show it to the authorities as proof of employment. Every time, she would have to start with them all over again! The fact was that they didn’t want to lose her because she was so good.
You might hear this story and blame the company, but in my book Helen was responsible for this. She gave the company the right to treat her as an unimportant person instead of the VIP person that she was for that company.
Speaking Up and Self-Esteem.
Speaking up can be one of the most difficult things for women. As girls, many of us were not encouraged to speak our mind. So as women now, it can feel very uncomfortable. Furthermore, when we don’t feel confident and when we don’t truly value ourselves, it can feel almost impossible to speak up for what we want. However, if we are going to be financially independent women, we have to push past this.
The first thing to do is to pay attention and get honest with yourself about your self-esteem. Please join me in the following exercise.
First off, on a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate your self-esteem? (1 is low, 10 is high.)
Now tell me if any these sound familiar to you:
- You let others criticize you or put you
- You have big dreams, but don’t follow through on
- You give up at the first sign of failure or
- You are scared to make mistakes and get embarrassed if you
- You hear yourself saying, “yes, but” a
- You constantly blame yourself for things, even though they are not your
If two or more of these statements struck a chord with you, then self-esteem is an important issue for you to look at. Please don’t worry or beat yourself up about this. There is a reason you are reading this book. In the upcoming 6-week course, you will be taking actions to help shift your internal patterns and greatly improve your self-esteem and self-worth, and as a result, your ability to ask for and receive the money you desire and deserve.
Women and Negotiation.
Negotiation tends to challenge our self-esteem and self- worth as women. While men seem to naturally accept that the world is out there for them to get whatever they want, women tend to have to go through many inner battles before they reach this understanding. Women have a tougher time standing up for their own worth and believing that they truly deserve to be prosperous. For this reason, many women are extremely uncomfortable with the idea of having to negotiate their salary.
Research shows that women are 2.5 times more likely than men to say they feel “a great deal of apprehension” about negotiating. In one study, men used the metaphor of “winning a ballgame” to describe negotiating, while women picked the metaphor of “going to the dentist.”
Even though they know they are earning less than they should be, there is still a reluctance to speak up. Women want to be liked, be seen as somebody nice, don’t want to upset people, and don’t want to be perceived as “too pushy.”
In the book Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, authors Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever estimate that a woman’s unwillingness to negotiate her salary at her first job can end up costing her an estimated $500,000 in lifetime earnings. In another book, Get Paid What You’re Worth, two business academics, Robin Pinkley and Gregory Northcraft , estimate that a woman who actively negotiates her salary over the course of her career could potentially earn $1 million more than if she just settled for what her boss offered.
It’s pretty clear: If you don’t ask, you won’t get what you deserve.
It should be noted here that while men look at negotiation as a game to be played, women look at it as a threat and a challenge to their confidence. When women do negotiate, since they look at it from the perspective of “war,” they tend to either get everything or nothing. In many cases, when they do get what they want they have a hard time enjoying it. We’ve got to change this!
Ask For What You Want.
In her book, Overcoming Undearning, author Barbara Stanny reported that in her research, 90 percent of the human resource departments polled expected salaries to be negotiated. She advises: “Overcoming underearning requires that you take a stand, ask for what you want, negotiate until you reach a mutually satisfactory agreement, or walk away where appropriate.”
I agree. If you want to be a financially independent woman, it’s time to start refusing offers that are too low. Whenever you refuse to settle, you increase your self- worth. Ask for what you want and stand up for yourself.
Tips for Negotiating Your Salary.
Be Proactive. Getting more requires asking for more. If you are blaming others for not getting what you think you deserve, remember that you are the one responsible for valuing yourself and stating your value to others.
Know What You Want. Research the going rates in your field. Plan on asking for the high end of the spectrum. You can always negotiate down, but never up.
Be Prepared. Prior to meeting, prepare a one-page outline of your achievements and the value you bring to the company. Practice with a friend or in front of the mirror – stating in clear terms the value you bring to the company.
Be Positive. Always start negotiations on a positive note. For example, thank the employer for meeting with you.
Act Confident. When you meet, speak with authority. Perceived confidence has a big impact. Act confident, even if you don’t feel confident.
Take Your Time. Request 24 to 72 hours to think over the offer.
Get Documentation. Get the offer in writing.
Be Proud. Celebrate yourself in some way. Take a bubble bath, go out to your favorite restaurant, or watch a fun movie. Do something that says, “I am important.”
Raising Your Rates – The Good News for Entrepreneurs.
If you are an entrepreneur, you may be terrified that if you raise your rates you will lose clients. While this may happen in the very short-run, the bigger picture is that because you are placing a higher value on yourself, others will put a higher value on you too – and you will win more clients. This may seem hard to believe – but I’ve seen it happen over and over.
At first you may feel uncomfortable, want to hang up the phone and run the other way, but I promise you that by raising your rate, you are going in the right direction. What happens is that when you raise your rate, your confidence will go up, and as a result you’ll find that people are drawn to you and, from this – your business will naturally increase. Think about it: Who doesn’t like to do business with a confident person?
I want to say here that even if some of your clients leave you, if you raise your rate – your bottom line will still be the same. This time, however, you will have more free time on your hands! Remember, time is your most valuable resource. You could use this free time to work on improving your marketing system, spend time with your kids, or have more time for yourself. Let me show you what I mean.
Let’s say you are a coach and you charge $100 a session (FYI: I’m using this rate just to make the calculation easy. You have 10 clients a week (again, I’m using this number for the sake of the calculation). This would mean that you earn $1000 a week. Now let’s say that you raise your rate. You decide to double it. Instead of charging $100 a session, you now charge $200.
Now let’s say that because you increased your rate to $200, you lost half of your clients. This means that now you have only five clients. But guess what you are earning per week? You are still earning $1000 a week! … AND you now have extra time on your hands that you can use for anything your heart desires. That is PRICELESS!
The other side to this is that the clients that stayed with you are the ones that are your Ideal Clients. Ideal Clients are the ones that you enjoy working with and the ones who give you energy. The clients that left were the ones that dragged down your energy and were ungrateful for what you gave them. In your process of honoring and valuing yourself and your work, you want to let go of those types of clients. You now have more time to give the clients who stayed with you. In other words, you can afford to give them even better service – and in the end they will refer to you more clients like them.
I want to bring up here the fact that raising your rates by 10 percent once a year is a typical, accepted practice in the business world. You can tell your old clients that because they have been such great clients you are going to keep them at the old rate for the next three months, but after that you will be charging them at the new rate.
I suggest however that you raise your rate much more than the usual 10 percent. When you do this, be sure to add value to that raise. What I mean here is that you can explain to your clients what it is you will be offering that adds extra value for them. Remember – YOU ARE WORTH IT!
Many of us over commit and take on too many low-paying jobs. In order to become the financially independent woman that you desire to be, I ask that you start putting value on your time and your talents. Instead of accommodating everyone else, put yourself first and start setting boundaries for yourself. It’s okay to say ‘no’ to people.
Make sure to set the value of your time, communicate that value to the world, and then do not settle for less. If you are not getting what you want, you need to be willing to negotiate or walk away. Doing this will make it easier to cut out the low-paying jobs that have been giving you a poor return. It is a common fear among women to raise their rate or turn a job down because they fear another one won’t come around.
However, if you stick to your rates that value your work, your income will ultimately increase significantly. When you identify and respect the value of your time, you’ll have more time to do the things you love – be with your kids, go for a spa weekend, travel, read, whatever it is you love to do outside of your work. By restricting our earning potential we’re repressing our personal power. Women are worth so much more than we give ourselves credit for and it’s time to start taking action to heal this part of ourselves.
Questions for Reflection:
- What do you do with your time? How much of it is spent directly on your main projects and interests and how much of it is spent reacting to others? Start tracking your hours this week and write them down.
- Who are the people in your life that are taking up too much of your free time? Write down their names and see what you can do to change this.
- When you give away your time for free, do you feel more energized or depleted? Take a few minutes to journal about this.
- Do you keep silent even though you know you should be paid more? Write down why you think you are doing this.
- How much would you like to be paid hourly? Monthly? Annually? Write this down, and then answer this: How do you think you would feel if you asked for what you want and got it?
Commitment to Yourself:
When you commit to yourself and stick with it, amazing things can happen. I have added two extra commitments to this chapter since it is a very important issue we are talking about here.
I commit to valuing my time, myself and the work I do.
I commit to speaking up for myself and asking for what I want.
I commit to raising my rates and turning down jobs that don’t pay my value.
Say these affirmations out loud as often as possible. The more often you hear the words coming out of your mouth, the more you will internalize them.
I value my time and energy.
I have a wealth of valuable skills, talents and abilities.
I have the courage to speak up for myself and ask for what I want.