Business Photo by Alex Proimos

Published on October 5th, 2015 | by Nancy F. Clark


Busting The Myths That Drive Women To Work Harder For Their Money

By Julie Ann Cairns—

“You have to work hard for your money.”

We’ve all heard this countless times.  And for women, this phrase comes with an additional, unspoken layer of belief: “We must work even harder.”

Indeed, it seems to be the way things often turn out.  In the U.S. alone, there’s a glaring gender pay gap, and women face implicit bias that can cause this gap to grow over the course of a career.  So the knee-jerk reaction is to work harder and to go all out to be not just as good as, but better than men in order to keep up.

I’ve experienced this in my own career while working in the male-dominated funds management industry. Not only did I feel that I had to be more competent than my male counterparts, I felt that I had no choice but to put up with some misogynistic behavior.  My response to that was to grow a thick skin, get on with being tougher, better, smarter… and I even became more masculine in my own behavior and energy as a protection mechanism to avoid being objectified. For a couple of years I pretty much stopped wearing skirts!

On top of the somber material implications of gender imbalances in the workplace, this dynamic can wreak havoc on women’s self-esteem, their sense of feminine power, and even their identity.

But what if we decided against this entire paradigm?  Gender biases may be real and true within the paradigm that we are familiar with, but what if instead of trying to change that, we just choose to switch paradigms ourselves?

What if it were fully possible for men and women alike to be successful in a way that attracts wealth without the daily grind of hard work – the sort that often feels like a never-ending hamster wheel?

I believe it is.

We are taught to respect those who have worked hard for what they have and to believe that there is something noble in those things one has sweated and sacrificed for. The implication is that good people—honest people—work hard for their money, and that making the many sacrifices this implies is the only legitimate way to get ahead.

The Notion of “Deservingness”

In the same vein, we’re conditioned to see a cause-and-effect relationship between doing things that other people value and receiving material rewards.  Thus prosperity and financial success are tied to our sense of being “good enough.”  To what we deserve.

Society asks us to prove that we deserve what we receive in life.  If we enjoy the blessings of material or financial abundance, others will sometimes question whether we have done something “worthy” to deserve it. We internalize this layer of judgement, too.

Women in particular have internalized the judgement.  Myriad questions such as, “Shouldn’t I be home with my kids instead of at the office?” and, “Now that I’ve taken time off from work for my family, have I lost my value as a member of the team?” weigh on us perpetually, making us doubt our own deservingness of success and parity.  So we either lower our heads and allow those raises and promotions to pass us by, or roll up our sleeves, grit our teeth and work harder just to be good enough.  Just to be worthy.

In a self-fulfilling prophecy, our colleagues—both male and female—come to expect this.

A vicious cycle ensues, based on the assumption that our worth is determined largely by our work.  It’s a natural assumption, since it springs from beliefs and values that are deeply-rooted in our society and our religious traditions.

But what if our worth is not determined by our work? What if it can’t be measured in hours or in dollars but is inherent simply in our unique gifts and beautiful soul? Isn’t there immeasurable worth in a smile? Or a kind word?

Why do we have to justify any prosperity that may flow into our lives by limiting it to the kind that comes from “hard (or harder) work”?

The notion that we do is a conditioned response.  A mental trap.  A myth.

Of course, it’s gratifying to work hard and prosper as a result. But there are other ways to flourish and prosper and that don’t require us to prove our worth.

Leverage Your Time

I have known hard work.   After studying economics and statistics at university in Australia I was recruited by the highly selective Reserve Bank of Australia and later won a prestigious scholarship to study for a master’s in finance and business administration in Japan. I spent four additional years at university in Japan studying various aspects of economics, statistics, finance, and the stock market and graduated at the top of my class.

In Japan, I also bought my first business jointly with a partner:  an English school I ran while completing my studies. That experience taught me an invaluable lesson about hard work and financial success: exchanging hours for dollars is not at all the best route to achieving it.  In fact, “time is money” is another myth.  It’s much more effective to leverage our time so that our finances can grow even as we do other things.  Founders of internet startups have shown us this, as has Donald Trump (no matter what you feel about his politics, the guy certainly knows how to make money). He made his fortune by leveraging his skills of identifying property development opportunities and conducting deal negotiations. After all, time will always be limited.  There are only 24 hours in a day, so without applying the concept of leveraging our time, it can be hard to break free from the old “time is money” paradigm.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

There are lots of ways to leverage your time and your money. One is simply by investing for a positive return. Even if the return is relatively small, if you reinvest your capital gains your money will compound and grow. Over time your investment amount will begin to snowball. It is said that Einstein called compounding returns the “eighth wonder of the world” because it allows you access to exponential growth.

Another way to leverage your time is to do something once that pays you over and over again. For example, develop a product, like an e-book or an online course. So long as you can figure out a way to keep selling it, then you are leveraging the time you spent on creating that product.

You can also have other people work for you in a business, like I did with my English school. It wasn’t a big school… we only had a couple of employees, but even that small amount of leverage made a big difference to my own financial outcome.

I call this working smarter, not harder.

Sure, leveraging time and money requires some know-how and some amount of starting capital.  But it’s not as hard as you think. And more important than the amount of capital you have to start with is the fact that you start. Because you’re making time your friend when you compound your returns. Time then can become the thing that eventually helps you bust free of your financial limitations, instead of being the thing that holds you back. That is a powerful paradigm shift in itself.

All it really requires is the desire and the confidence to step aside from the hamster wheel or off it altogether, and to open your eyes to the myriad ways that exist of tapping into more effortless forms of abundance and wealth.  This is where most of us get stuck by falling right back into the trap of feeling we must prove our worth for everything we receive in life.

Breaking the Cycle

The task, then, for women seeking to break the cycle of working harder, is to let go of the myth driving us to work so hard in the first place. This is the myth that in order to prove our worth, we have to be some kind of super-woman who can do everything. Trying to win that game can be exhausting and soul-destroying.

Breaking the cycle means stepping back and taking stock of our deeply-rooted beliefs around the connection between our self-worth and success.  We’ll need to ask questions such as, “To what extent is my self-esteem shaped by other people’s expectations, whether real or perceived?”

It comes back to our limiting beliefs. How to change these limiting beliefs is a specific process – one that I step people through in my book, The Abundance Code.

Once I removed my own limiting beliefs around money and overwrote them with beliefs that supported and aligned with my conscious goals of working smarter, not harder, the barriers to achieving these goals began to fall. Quickly. I was able to super-charge my wealth and stop sabotaging my best efforts to succeed.

For when you truly believe that you can have what you desire and that you deserve it, you will use all your knowledge, energy and passion in the relentless pursuit of your goal.  Even if you experience setbacks along the way, you’ll learn from your mistakes.  Your belief will spur you on toward attaining your goal and you simply won’t accept anything less. And you will succeed. I’ve seen it over and over again, in my own life and the lives of my clients.


Julie Ann Cairns is the author of The Abundance Code: How to Bust The 7 Money Myths For A Rich Life Now (Hay House, September 2015) and has spearheaded The Abundance Code Documentary (March 2016) to help people everywhere make a shift to the abundance mindset and seek joint solutions to our planet’s most pressing challenges.  She is co-founder and managing director of Trading Pursuits Group in Sydney.


Article photo by Alex Proimos

Nancy Clark is CEO of PositivityDaily, Director of Forbes WomensMedia, and author of The Positive Journal. She coaches companies and executives in business skills with the added benefit of training in positive psychology and happiness -- incorporating the latest scientific studies on changing brain patterns and habits. Clark believes that positivity is the next necessary step to engage employees.

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About the Author

Nancy Clark is CEO of PositivityDaily, Director of Forbes WomensMedia, and author of The Positive Journal. She coaches companies and executives in business skills with the added benefit of training in positive psychology and happiness -- incorporating the latest scientific studies on changing brain patterns and habits. Clark believes that positivity is the next necessary step to engage employees.

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