Defining Your Price Tag

Most people have high expectations of their first paycheck.

The promise of getting your first job is like a treasure chest containing wonderful jewels of life — like independence from your family, a ticket into real adulthood, the promise of defining your own life and finding your way in the world.

And depending on the profession you’ve chosen, you will either be satisfied with your first paycheck, or completely disillusioned. I think it’s safe to say that your initial ‘price tag’ — or salary — might not be what you imagined it would be.

I discovered Jim Rohn a few years ago and loved his definition of how we bring value to the marketplace: “You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.” It took me a while to assimilate this but it eventually helped me to get free from connecting my income to my sense of worth.

Your salary is not a determination of your worth. It is a remuneration of your current skills set. Your salary is a cost to your organisation in exchange for the benefit of your service. Earning a salary is a great way to start out your career and gain experience — but in the light of the fourth industrial revolution, it’s short-sighted to make that a long-term plan.

So many university students that I’ve been interacting with are teeming with entrepreneurial ideas. Some already have start-ups on the go as they take on their first job, knowing that they have a side business that can eventually turn into their full time gig.

Increasing your value in the marketplace


The world doesn’t owe you anything. Entitlement in the workplace, in any form, is not rewarded.

Never be limited by your salary and don’t let your job title define you. Give your best at work, serve your company and your clients as if you were an owner in that business. What you don’t realise is that your work shapes you.

As you expand your skills set, gain experience and learn how to solve problems, your value to the marketplace grows simultaneously.

One of Rohn’s refrains is also: “If you do more than what you get paid to do, soon you will get paid more for what you do.” Some might scoff at this idea but I’ve found it to be true in my own life. We all you have a choice to make: you can either be limited by your salary or you can be guided by your salary.

The answer is not to focus on getting more — but to better manage what you have right now. If you learn to manage what you have well, then you will soon receive more to manage.

Most people want the increase in salary — but they don’t want the increase in responsibility that comes with the higher pay package.

So if you want to define your price tag, decide to show up for yourself everyday. The best way to future proof yourself in the rapidly advancing world of work is to inculcate an entrepreneurial mind set.

Become someone who takes initiative, who thinks creatively, who is adaptive and flexible. Make the commitment to lifelong learning. Be realistic about what you have to offer. Resolve to know yourself better than others do. Be open to constructive feedback.

Stay humble and keep growing.

Eventually, you will get to determine the price tag on your work — once you’ve proven your value to the market.

Work week reflection question: What is my current value to the market? How can I increase my value to the market in the short to long-term?

Picture of a mannequin lying on the floor

Why Your Bad Habits Will Bankrupt Your Life

Habits form our character but our core beliefs form our habits.

No one needs to name and shame the bad habits in your life. You are keenly aware of it. Whether the crime is indulging in time wasters like binge series watching and mindless social media surfing, to more serious choices like staying in toxic relationships, you know what’s tripping you up in life.

You might want to protest that if you knew how to do better, you would. But the heart of the matter is ­- do you really want to do better? We all know that we need to exercise, eat healthy, increase our levels of focus to improve our productivity, etc etc.

The way that we make the switch from bad behavior to good behavior has more to do with a heart change than a head change. At the root of every bad habit is a high level of tolerance for the thing we know needs to change if we want to get the life we really desire.

Our motivation to reach for the things we really want is often thwarted by a lack of belief that we deserve the things that we know will give us a better quality of life.

We don’t know what the true cost of our bad habits are because we haven’t yet begun to taste what the opposite actions in our lives could produce.

The only problem is that until we really believe that we deserve to have the things we want, we will never be motivated to make the change.

When it hurts too much

John Maxwell says that “People change when they hurt enough that they have to change, learn enough that they want to change, receive enough that they are able to change.”

I’ve been struggling with my fitness targets for years. Writing the same targets year in and year out has led to despair. I felt trapped, like I was just fooling myself for even trying to make a change.

One day, while I was at gym, with my inner voice was shouting at me to finish quickly because I had so many things to do and on the other hand knowing that I would mentally berate myself if I hadn’t gone to gym in the first place, I knew that I had to stop the madness.

I hated myself if I didn’t go to gym – and I hated myself even when I was there.

I stopped the exercise I was doing and had an inner talk-in-the-corner with myself. “What’s really going on here?” I asked myself. Why am I continuing to keep going on this miserable-go-round cycle year in and year out?

I decided to run an experiment on myself, to get to the root of what was keeping me stuck in the proverbial mud when it came to getting my fitness to start moving in a forward direction. I decided to go to gym for one hour every day in the upcoming month and study (with a microscope) all the excuses and barriers that were preventing me from keeping my commitment to myself.

Once I challenged myself to figure out what was really going on with me, a friend who just happens to be a personal trainer offered his help and I was open enough to actually sign up for proper training sessions.

The day of my first session, I had a total freak out. I was scared, nervous, petrified even. The fear I felt made me realise that there was some deeper stuff going on that just forcing myself to get into workout gear.

I’d allowed all sorts of thorns to grow into my thinking about fitness, health, my own body image and what I can actually accomplish in this area. This is an ongoing process of change and challenge and my personal trainer surprises me every so often by taking things up a notch and pushing me further than I know my body can go.

But that’s the biggest hindrance to changing our bad habits: it takes work. You have to expend more energy and effort and focus to do the things you know will have a long term positive effect than just scoffing down the chips or scone (my personal nemesis) in the moment.

Working out regularly and eating better (just for a few weeks) has already had so many knock on positive effects. The small changes that I’ve seen within a two month time span helped me feel more confident when I finally did my first ever author talk.

That after workout feeling is also a pretty great high that really competes with the exhausted this-has-been-a-long-day feeling that makes me want to veg on the couch instead.

Oh yeah – and it’s freaking painful. There are days when I curse the stairs and feel the ache of muscles coming alive. I’m not at the point yet where I’m actually looking forward to the training sessions (that might come) but I keep showing up because I know that just doing the work is going to help me learn about what I am really capable of.

I ended up going to gym 28 days out of 31 (some days I opted to take a walk on the beach as my workout activity). My mini-experiment proved that actually, I had the capacity to change and finally prioritizing my personal commitments over the other areas on my life helped me feel more empowered to give my best to the world.

Small wins in one area of your life begin to inspire confidence in other areas of your life and eventually you find the small wins add up to a greater forward momentum that begins to build in your life.

Shifting from consuming to producing

When you shift from a consumer to a producer mindset, the things that used to be ok begins to choke your progress. I’ve mentioned before that I used to be a shopaholic… and that meant that I could literally spend hours in malls, being enthralled by all the colourful possibilities that I encountered.

And while I have to watch that I don’t get caught up in that cycle again, now when I feel myself wandering around the mall for a ‘must have item’, I’ve begun to notice that my inner voice is reminding me that I’m wasting time when I could rather be writing.

I’d been threatening my friends that I was going to publish a book for years. But until I started seeing myself as having something valuable to offer the world, I wasn’t acting on it.

If you want to make progress on the path of personal excellence, then you have to constantly break out of limiting versions of yourself. Having cheerleaders in your life that help you see the truth about your potential is also vital to breaking old patterns.

I finally did the work on my first book because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. People have been telling me for years how much my writing has helped them, has inspired them to get closer to God, how what they read came at the right time to help answer some questions they had in their heart.

And so I was being really selfish by thinking so little of myself and not enough of what I’ve been given the world needs.

YOU have something that the world needs. You may not have absolute clarity on it yet. You might not fully believe in your ability to bring it out yet but the seed is there.

The way to tackle bad habits it to deal with our toxic thinking. Thought processes rooted in incorrect belief systems will keep you stuck and silently settling for a mediocre life when you know in your spirit that what you truly yearn for is to be excellence and significant.

Thinking that is linked to deep seated beliefs are difficult to change. It involves an intentional process of catching yourself playing the silent tapes in your head – and then interrupting them and replacing them with new information.

In the days of VHS and cassette tapes, you could record new music or video by taping over the old. Rewiring the negative narratives that are tripping you up is not that easy – but it is possible.

It means that you will have to keep presenting yourself with new information every time your brain brings up the old evidence of how you will fail in this area. What has helped me in this process is connecting to my spiritual identity as a child of God and seeing myself as God sees me – as perfect and whole on the inside.

The more I believe that, the more it motivates me to mirror on the outside what I know to be true on the inside. I can see more clearly now the actions that are limiting my growth. It doesn’t make it easier to shift to positive behavior but having a vision for a higher life helps me with the resolve to allow the sandpapering of my daily experiences to refine the truth I am living within.

Because I am secure in my identity as being loved, I can grow through my experience and learn how to constantly tweak my understanding and perspectives so that I stay tuned in to the frequencies of growth.

I can apologise to my husband when I’m wrong, I can decide when to speak up or when to just let something go, I can choose to focus on the most important tasks in a day and ignore the constant distractions clawing at my consciousness (definitely an hourly struggle).

I want my life to be rich: with experience, with joy, with growth, with peace, with good health, with abundance, with grace.

I can say goodbye to bad habits because they don’t offer any of that.





Five Mindset Shifts That Will Turn You Into A Money Genius

Too many people dream of having more. Far too few take simple, practical steps to alter their financial future.

I too, at one stage in my life, resented rich people who seemed to have it all. I bemoaned the fact that I was born on the wrong side of the tracks. Other people were born lucky, I reasoned. I was doomed to be one of the unlucky ones.

I didn’t know how much these subconscious (false) beliefs would dictate my financial reality. My core belief was: “I am poor. I don’t have enough.” So when I did get money, it burned a hole through my bank account quick enough for me to sustain the lie.

Continue reading

Bridal couple figurine standing next to stacked coins

How Getting Married Can Change Your Financial Landscape

“I used to be a shopaholic”, I tell people. My emphasis on the past tense is a way to reassure myself that my financial life is changing. That I am changing.

And in many ways, I am.

What has changed is the fact that I now use cash instead of credit when I buy anything. That’s because I no longer own a credit card. Or a store card. In fact, my car was paid off a year and a half before the full financial term (saving almost R15 000 in the process).

I also have a budget and track what I spend each month. I know, I sound like Smart Money Wonder Woman, don’t I? If only that were true.

In many ways, I haven’t changed at all.

I started out my working life from a deficit. A soul deficient. I felt like I needed to buy the right clothes so that I could fit in. That would make me happy. The right clothes were the only things standing between me and acceptance. Clothes were my drug of choice.

Continue reading

The Day I Killed My Credit Card

14 July 2014.

A day that will be engraved in Cheryl history as the day that I won a small but significant battle in my fight for financial freedom.

I’ll be honest.

I’ve closed credit cards before. There have been cycles in my life where I used to get mad at myself and resolve that I was done with credit for good!

Until, barely a week or two later, I would find myself swiping the plastic again – feeling the familiar sickening self-defeat curl up into a fist-like knot in my tummy. I have figuratively kicked myself numerous times; wished I could have the guts to slap myself in the face to make me stop the mind-numbing behaviour that was keeping me trapped in cycles of shame.

This time, I know it’s going to stick.

For the first time in my life, my financial choices are now affecting someone other than myself. My husband. And while I thought that I could bear the burden of financial instability (because I had carried it for so long)… it was suddenly no longer ok.

I am still vigilant about a previous shopping addiction that was the primary shovel in digging this hole of debt. Every now and again, the sales beckon and the whisperings come that “I have to have this now.”

What enables me to walk away from the things I was bound to before, is that I no longer “need” it. I no longer “need” the false promise that the next item that I purchase is going to tempt me with. That fabulous pair of boots – even if it is leather, in my size and just “perfect” – will never make my life perfect.

God is the only One able to perfect the things concerning me – and He has been diligent at working on removing the things in my heart that are keeping me captive to lies.

So while it might not be a big deal to some – this is a big deal to me.

Killing my credit card means that my dreams get to live.

Finally feeling in control of your money – and no longer feeling like the money is controlling you – is wonderfully freeing.

It’s empowering.

I am beginning to realise that exercising discipline in one area of my life breeds new energy for discipline in other areas too.

My husband and I don’t own a television, we don’t eat carbs anymore – and we don’t have credit cards.

I think I love this unorthodox life.





Levels And Layers


I’ve been realising more and more how we experience and live life through ‘levels and layers’.

The friends you had in high school are now weird looking adults with marital appendages and oggly googly offspring to boot. Your junk-food eating and animal-like partying tendencies eventually catch up and suddenly a new decade sneaks up on you, resulting in an awkward kinship with ‘deep’ people like CS Lewis who said things like: “Thirty was so strange for me. I’ve really had to come to terms with the fact that I am now a walking and talking adult.”

The things we thought we knew about life, love and everything else seems to go for an upgrade every now and again and we are forced to re-evaluate the things we thought we knew for sure. Things that we thought we had dealt with, faced, overcome and conquered keep coming up again like an annoying jack-in-the-box. The way we deal with recurring cycles and patterns forms the essence of growth and maturity. Some people suck it up and face their shit, resulting in eventual positive change and transformation. Others never do and blame the world and everyone in it for any sadness and misery they feel forced to endure.

What is remarkable about this otherwise maddening mystery is that, when you finally allow yourself to look back over the hills and valleys, mountains and oceans you have traversed, you are finally able to appreciate just how much you have grown and just how far you have come.

All that means is that once you have ‘reached’ a certain level in your life (in terms of relationships, friendships, career, personal development etc) and explored the rich layers of truth and meaning that pertains to your individual experience, there is always another level to get to and further layers to uncover.

Therein lies the beauty, exuberance and fullness that life has to offer.