Today I got around to doing my taxes and it turns out, for the 11th year in a row, I made no money.
Once again, I operated at a loss.
I am really a happy person as long as I don’t have to consciously face the fact that I make no money. But as soon as I have to add up all the numbers, I get really depressed, and sad, and I begin to seriously wonder:
What the hell am I doing??
What kind of dream world do I think I am I living in that I think I can afford to go tripping merrily along, teaching my classes, working on my little projects, while other people underwrite my existence?
(Apparently I am a freaking genius, though, at getting other people to fund my existence.)
Bur how fair is this? I should be making a living wage, right? Funding my own existence. Pulling my weight. But instead, a bunch of people (who love me) underwrite me and my schemes.
And I know they love me. And I know that I am not an impostion on them, and in some way it is okay that I live like this. But still, at tax time, when I see it all laid out in horrible numbered columns on an Excel spreadsheet? I begin to circle the drain.
It’s pretty terrifying.
What am I doing wrong? Am I a failure? Am I devaluing myself? Should I be charging more? Should I give up the lounge and reduce my rent?
How come ordinarily it feels so wonderfully perfect to be doing what I am doing, and yet at tax time when I see that I don’t make a dime I get so depressed?
A few months ago I went through this Money Map thing. It was an extensive series of exercises that had me put a dollar value on everything I did. Everything. It took me a long time to complete, not to mention a lot of soul-searching, but at the end I had figured out how much money I would have to make, per month, to be “Minimally happy”, then “Preferably happy”, and finally, “Fantastically happy.”
I just now looked up that exercise and laughted.
And then I just re-read my post from last night where I was blithering on and on about my amped life, my great classes, my wonderful students, my new client, and now today?
I feel like shit. I feel like I have been undervaluing myself.
And yet I know (because I had to do all that Money Map research) that in my market, I can’t charge any more than I am for what I do.
So what do I do?