ADHD and Money: Why Mindset Matters

Day 5: Money Mindset


In my experience there is a direct correlation between having adhd tendencies and money challenges. It’s not always that there’s not enough money, or that there’s not money available, or that there are problems doing the math of managing money, but rather there are issues around the topics of value, judgements, earning, saving, beliefs and what we make it all mean.

There are challenges with the mindset of money, which then makes money challenging.

To start with, I’m a “helper” by nature. I love to help others. I’m sure some of you can relate.

I was drawn to Major in Child Development in College (which by the way is an extremely fulfilling yet inherently underpaid profession). So out the gate I was a professional underearner, and remained one for about 10 years. I moved up the ranks (eventually to become the Program Director for a large school district) and still made less than $30k per year, often working 60 hours per week.

My next venture was a dance studio. I owned a dance studio.

As the parent of a dancer, I had always wondered about the high cost of costumes and recital tickets. It seemed so disproportionate for the level of dance (my daughter was 5 at the time). My vision was to do it differently, offering families a high-quality experience for a reasonable price. My program grew and grew, eventually hiring 13 instructors that I managed. Well over 2k children went through my studio in the span of 3 years. I poured my heart and soul into it, and while it was extremely rewarding I never actually drew a salary. Again, underearning.

My question was why?

It came down to a belief that I’d had for a very long time. It was buried so deep, I didn’t even realize it was there.

It sounds like this “I have to work twice as hard for half the pay as everyone else.”

I know, nice thought hunh?

How did I ever get that thought?

I believe it was because of where and when I was raised. It was meant to be protective and a gentle reminder to work hard and always do my best.

It was during the 1960’s and 1970’s and we lived in an all Caucasian neighborhood in Northern Ca. My dad was employed by the largest transit system in the Bay Area and there were a lot of things happening with affirmative action. At the time, there was a lot of inequality in the workforce if you were a minority. My dad saw and experienced much of it first hand and he wanted to instill a strong work ethic in us. It was honorable and came from a place of love. He wanted what was best for us and for us to succeed in society.

It was said in the vein of “remember you’re always going to have to put your best foot forward, make a good first impression, you only get one chance to make a first impression, you’ll have to work twice as hard, for half as much, but you can do it".

The problem was I already had a strong work ethic. I had an example of it in both of my parents. I was wired to want to please people. I wanted to do a good job.

This belief that my dad instilled in me took hold and my brain ran with it. And as brains often do, it ran down a path of it’s own, taking it to a whole new level.

My brain grasped hold of it and took it as literal truth. In some ways I was always operating from a fearful place of not being good enough, needing to work twice as hard for half as much.

My brain used it as a way to show me I was not good enough and not deserving of more pay. That to ask for more would be presumptuous, bold, out of line, unreasonable.

What I know now is negative thought = negative feeling = negative result.

My negative result was underearning.

The good news is that once I became aware of that thought, I noticed it. Saw it for what it was. A thought that I didn’t have to think anymore.

Instead I started to think “I work hard because I love to” “I overdeliver because I want to”.

Just this week I’ve landed on a new money thought that I love.

“It’s possible to make more than I’ve ever made this month.”

That thought creates excitement for me. It’s open to possibility. I work hard no matter what. I’m open to all of the value that comes with that.

It’s also a thought that can compound over time. So no matter the amount, it’s always open to grow.

If you’re reading this and you have adhd or adhd tendencies, chances are you have a belief about yourself, your ability or capability to earn more. Your story of how it got there may not be the same as mine. It doesn’t matter. If there’s a hidden belief that’s holding you back, it’s worth uncovering.

There was an episode last week shared on one of my favorite podcasts, The Life Coach School podcast with Brooke Castillo, called Underearning. She describes underearning as someone who is earning less then they’re capabale of, and they want to earn more. As I listened to this episode, it really resonated with me. It is the space that I lived in for most of my life. If this post resonated with you I’d encourage you to listen in. If you want to explore your money mindset, or just find out what that even means, book a 45-minute session via the button below. ~Shaun