For the past two weeks, I’ve been sharing my thoughts on the financial seasons of life that we all experience. The first week, I introduced the seasons: Increased learning (usually ages 0-25), increased earning (usually 25-55), and increased returning (usually 55+). Last week we delved into the Learning Season. And today I want to discuss the Earning Season.
But before we get into this week’s topic, many of you have been so kind to comment on my earlier posts, and I want to take a moment to address two of your most frequently-asked questions:
Is it possible to be in more than one season at the same time? And is it possible to be in a different season than your age might indicate?
The simple answer to both questions is Yes! You can practice the skills of these seasons at any time in your life. What I teach about these seasons isn’t prescriptive—instead, it’s descriptive. In other words, you absolutely can be in your 30s and be both earning and returning. Or in your 50s or beyond, and still learning. Or even in your 20s and already making great strides in earning.
Now, let’s talk about what the season of increased earning is really all about. I believe it’s essentially capitalizing on what you’ve learned in order to keep growing and set yourself up for the future. When you’re intentional about your earning, you create more options for the next season.
So, what do you need to focus on in your season of increased earning? I believe there are three zones in which you want to earn as much as you can…
The Money Zone
When it comes to earning, money is the number one place most people focus. In my book Today Matters, I shared my philosophy on earning income: if you’re pursuing your purpose, have learned your trade well, and practice it with excellence, you’re probably on track to earn a good living. And it’s certainly okay to emphasize earning what you can for your skills and training, making enough to take care of your family, and preparing for your future.
But be careful to avoid the trap of greed. Despite many of the messages in our culture, more money is not the key to a happy life. A happy and fulfilled life comes from valuing others and adding value to them daily. And while you don’t have to have money to add value to people, money does create options to do so that you wouldn’t otherwise have.
The Respect Zone
In addition to earning money, this is a perfect season to focus on earning respect. How do you do that? Develop and maintain your good character. This establishes trust in you as a person. Do your work with excellence. This increases trust in your abilities and commitment. And focus on giving of yourself and adding value to others. This increases personal connection and fulfillment.
The respect of others, like money, should not be an end in itself. Instead, it’s a tool that you can use to increase options. And the more options you have, the more opportunity to do things that make a positive difference in your world. Which leads me to the next zone…
The Opportunity Zone
I love opportunity. That’s because it’s unlimited. I believe in looking for opportunity in every situation, and seizing it whenever possible. So how do you earn more opportunities? By exceeding expectations. More than just doing what’s asked of you, exceeding expectations means going above and beyond the call of duty.
To exceed expectations, first you need to embrace The Platinum Rule, which is to treat people the way they want to be treated. You’re probably familiar with the Golden Rule: Treat people they way you would want to be treated. The Platinum Rule takes that a step further. Then exceeding expectations takes it further still. By considering the other person – what they need and expect – and then finding a way to exceed that, you increase your value to them. As a result, you receive more opportunities to do more. Exceeding expectations opens the door of opportunity – in your career, your family, and your life.
No matter your age, or your current situation, there’s always time to increase your earning in at least one of these three zones. Even if you can’t increase financially, you can earn respect and opportunity. Or maybe you’re in a place where your opportunities are limited, but your financial potential is off the charts. Wherever you are, there’s room for growth if you’ll look for it. And when you take advantage of your season of earning, you set yourself up for my favorite season, which is returning.
What are your thoughts on the season of earning? I’d love it if you’d share your tips and reactions in the comments. And if you know someone else who might benefit from thinking about earning in a new way, please feel free to share this post with them. Together, we can make each other better—and I’m grateful for your participation with me in the growth process.
Next week, we’ll talk about how much I love the season of returning. It’s my favorite season, and not just because it’s the one I “should” be in because of my age. The season of returning is one of incredible significance. And anyone – at any age – can enjoy the feeling of fulfillment that it offers. I can’t wait to share my thoughts on it with you!