Money, Virtue, and Vicarious Dreams

Money, Virtue, and Vicarious DreamsVirtue, dreams, money. I love how multiple sources of information can come together to spark a powerful insight. 

A Facebook comment, conversation, book, movie, image, you name it: When you’re open to it, synchronicity can amplify your inner voice.

Three separate sources culminated in today’s flash of insight. They highlighted a lesson I needed to learn about the way I perceive money, virtue, dreams, and entrepreneurship. In fact, this has been one of my long standing inner struggles.

Perhaps it will resonate for you too in your daily practice of more authentic living – to Be Brave, Be Seen, and Be True.


1. The conversation:

While driving my daughter to school this morning (which I usually don’t do because I rarely have the car), she said to me, “Go do something for yourself today.”

I realized, after immediately chuckling and thinking, “well, that would mean I’d be on a warm tropical beach somewhere”, that it’s actually much deeper and more profound.

What’s the greatest thing you can do for yourself today?

My answer was, “make profit doing what I want, how I want, in an authentic way that matters”.

OK, I know that I have to be more specific. But that was my initial gut response. And the reason why it felt so powerful to me is that I’m still learning how to be at peace with profit through work that is authentic, creative and helpful.

Yet it is critical for me if I want to maintain the introvert-friendly right livelihood that I have finally had the courage to pursue. It’s an important acknowledgment of value.


2. The book, Put Your Dreams to the Test:

“A dream is an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will, and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it.”  ~ John C. Maxwell, Put Your Dream to the Test

As a mother, financial independence and authentic living are part of what I want for my daughter. So in effect, if I’m being honest with myself, I’ve been living a vicarious dream through her (one of my own worst nightmares and something I vowed to never do).

That’s because I still mostly rely on my husband’s income while choosing to putter around with my own business ideas (I have labelled my income as ‘fun money’ so it lacks a sense of urgency and significance) instead of finding focus and fully committing to my own success.

For me, it’s impossible to separate the connection between money, value, and higher principles like excellence, wisdom, honesty, beauty, humility, integrity, kindness, simplicity.

But my thinking has been off – in line with the starving artist or humble servant/vow of poverty mentality – believing that, in order to profit, you must be slimy or inauthentic in some way. Therefore, my choice of taking a “higher road” has not aligned with my own personal sustainable income.


3. The CreativeLive webinar:

Watching the CreativeLive course, Fulfill Your Creative Purpose by Ann Rea, Elliot McGucken spoke about the Hero’s Odyssey and his message rang so true to me:

Pursue virtue and honor, build character, stay true – AND make money.

Yes, make money is part of the equation.

I have struggled with this for too many years. I’ve finally accepted that my introversion is not best suited in a typical “career” path but rather in my own business where I have more control over my environment. And with that choice, I have also struggled daily to come to terms with marketing and selling – and therefore profit. It makes it difficult to stay on this path and not cave in to an option that I know is not my ideal situation.

So Ann Rea’s words in day one of the course really cut to the core:

If you’re not making money, you’re not serving (it’s entertaining yourself, satisfying your own creative curiosity, your hobby) – so figure out how you can serve & the problems you can solve.

Making money does not require acts of sliminess. To NOT make money is counterproductive to living higher ideals. It goes back to Maslow’s hierarchy. You’re not helping anyone simply by earning less.


Parting thoughts:

Sometimes what you need to hear is not the warm fuzzy stuff. Sometimes, it’s a poke encouraging you to get real.

Do something significant for yourself. Invest in your character. Own your dreams. Serve others. And make profit so you can keep going.

In the words of my wise teenager, “Go do something for yourself today” – something of true meaning and value.


10 thoughts on “Money, Virtue, and Vicarious Dreams”

  1. Always more than one way to get deep into your dreams. Back to your book signing.. I always tell introverts to do a book reading instead of a signing. and it sells more books.
    but this really spoke to me:
    If you’re not making money, you’re not serving (it’s entertaining yourself, satisfying your own creative curiosity, your hobby) – so figure out how you can serve & the problems you can solve.

  2. Your article reminded me of how I felt at my first book signing at Barnes and Noble. This was my BIG dream but I soon realized that book signings were all about peddling my book. I felt diminished and demoralized by the idea that I had to act like a salesman. I fought the idea of building a platform for some of the same reasons. We writers (otherwise known as starving artists as you mentioned) tend to think our artistic ways are above marketing – but this is simply not the case. Writing and marketing go hand and in hand, and as you said, there is no shame in it. Just because you are blessed to be pursuing your dreams and passions doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do everything possible to make money at it!

    1. I love that you mention shame, Julie – it makes me think of Brené Brown’s work: “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” I think we need to genuinely explore this for ourselves and acknowledge the impact we are allowing it to have on our lives (including our income). Thank you!

  3. Love this article Marla and your message is relevant on so many levels. I’ve started working with someone to develop online courses and he ‘enlightened’ me recently about my tendency to give, give, give rather than having confidence enough to actually expect payment for some of that generosity. It’s important work and I’m glad to see you’re on the same path because you give so much encouragement and value to your readers!

    1. Thank you Marquita – your example makes me think of something I read and made a note of recently – Let your love into the marketplace (Wisdompreneurs, That feels so powerful to me and suggests a shift in thinking. Yes, we need to gain comfort with the exchange (ie sale & purchase) of value 🙂

  4. Wow Marla, you spoke to the gnawing in my gut. I struggle with the concept of success. I want it but it frightens me. Thought I had done away with that, but felt that pang in the pit of my stomach the other daty when I wrote the word – s.u.c.c.e.s.s. To my amazement I hadn’t leaped over that hurdle. And success and profit go hand in hand. So your post is very meaningful to me. Thanks so much. . .


    1. I’m humbled by your comment Linda, thank you for sharing. This was another post that I hesitated to publish for various reasons – then took a deep breath and did it anyways, trusting that at least one person would benefit from reading it. It felt freeing (not to hide), and I am celebrating with gratitude!

      I believe that each day we are challenged to decide to keep going – alongside the fear and doubt. It’s not about perfection (aka ‘thought I had done away with that’). Perhaps it’s simply about gaining more courage and clarity as we walk our path. Situations will come up that call on us for extra attention/increased awareness/contemplation – as a way to proceed in a way that Viktor Frankl referred to as Right Action and Right Conduct (in Man’s Search for Meaning). Embrace it with love and self-compassion.

  5. Ahh, you’re quoting Maxwell, who coined one of my favorite phrases (it’s a book title of his): Failing Forward. Helps me every time I get to pick myself up, dust myself off, and resume putting one foot in front of the other.

    Thanks, great article!

    1. Thanks Sue – failing forward – I love that (another one to add to my very lengthy reading list)!

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