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  • Shay Port

A Girlfriend’s Guide to Underearning

Ok, I got you here under false pretenses.

This blog post isn’t only for girlfriends. It’s for boyfriends too. It’s for millennials, gen-xers, and even yuppies – you know, the people who are over 50 and still want to work at good jobs for good pay.   It’s for anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable asking for a raise, a promotion, or sometimes even a job.

But let’s not stop there. Underearning doesn’t only mean making less than you should be earning or could be earning if you were willing to step up. Underearning can also mean overworking to the point of exhaustion in order to prove you’re a team player or a worthy employee, only to have to stop working for extended periods of time due to burnout or illness. It can mean creating unnecessary conflict with co-workers or supervisors leading to termination or discharge. It can also mean not applying yourself to find the right job, knowing that you’ll only last so long in the temporary job before you get fed up or bored and have to quit.

In whatever way the term “underearner” applies to you – and no doubt you know who you are – it’s well worth the time to figure out what’s behind it and then get it to stop.

How long have you been telling yourself you’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough, and doggone it, people don’t like you? (Thank you, Stuart Smalley). Too long, no doubt. Start chipping away at your negative or self-sacrificing self-image right now.

Below is the list of “Symptoms of Underearning” from the Underearners Anonymous website.

Here’s what you do:

  • Read through the list of “symptoms.”

  • Choose two or three of these symptoms that resonate with you the most.

  • Write those three on a blank piece of paper.

  • Write any stories or feelings that go along with those symptoms. Don’t feel the need to write in a linear fashion. You can explore those symptoms in any manner that feels relevant. Draw pictures, make a collage. Use stickers. Whatever.

  • Now choose the one symptom that feels the most relevant for you.

  • Create a positive mantra around this symptom. Here are some suggestions: #1) I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and…just kidding. Well, that one would work, but we can be more creative. #2) I determine how others view me. #3) Starting today, I apply only for the positions that excite, intrigue and motivate me; #4) I am entitled. #5) I am the creator of my life and I choose abundance.

  • Keep this exercise and your mantra by your bed. Read it every morning. Read it every night before going to sleep.

  • Say it when you feel afraid, weak, angry or bitter. Those emotions are smokescreens to keep you stuck. Don’t believe them.

  • When you finally get that awesome job or that awesome raise, change your mantra to address the next challenge.

Symptoms of Underearning

  1. Time Indifference– We put off what must be done and do not use our time to support our own vision and further our own goals.

  2. Idea Deflection–We compulsively reject ideas that could expand our lives or careers, and increase our profitability.

  3. Compulsive Need to Prove – Although we have demonstrated competence in our jobs or business, we are driven by a need to re-prove our worth and value.

  4. Clinging to Useless Possessions – We hold onto possessions that no longer serve our needs, such as threadbare clothing or broken appliances.

  5. Exertion/Exhaustion – We habitually overwork, become exhausted, then under-work or cease work completely.

  6. Giving Away Our Time – We compulsively volunteer for various causes, or give away our services without charge, when there is no clear benefit.

  7. Undervaluing and Under-pricing – We undervalue our abilities and services and fear asking for increases in compensation or for what the market will bear.

  8. Isolation – We choose to work alone when it might serve us much better to have co-workers, associates, or employees.

  9. Physical Ailments – Sometimes, out of fear of being larger or exposed, we experience physical ailments.

  10. Misplaced Guilt or Shame – We feel uneasy when asking for or being given what we need or what we are owed.

  11. Not Following Up – We do not follow up on opportunities, leads, or jobs that could be profitable. We begin many projects and tasks but often do not complete them.

  12. Stability Boredom – We create unnecessary conflict with co-workers, supervisors and clients, generating problems that result in financial distress.

Underearning is something many of us struggle with; but it can be overcome. Do this exercise now and live the life of your choosing – the one you finally decided you deserve.

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