Scarcity mindset is the often unconscious belief that there is never enough. If you’ve ever told yourself that you don’t have enough time to make changes in your business or lifestyle, or that there aren’t enough clients out there, or that you’ll never earn decent money working in ELT.. that’s it right there.
You might say you’re just being realistic. I’m all for realism, and I certainly don’t subscribe to the idea that you just have to wish for things, and ‘ping’ they arrive on a silver platter.
However, there’s no doubt that the stories we tell ourselves about what is and isn’t possible, and what’s ‘likely’ to happen, massively impact what actually does happen.
The impact of society
Scarcity mindset isn’t just in your head, by the way. Capitalism is all about promoting and encouraging a scarcity mindset. We have to compete with other people for scarce resources. If someone else is doing well, that means we’re going to do badly. There isn’t enough out there so we need to work long hours and take on as many clients or as much work as we possibly can. You snooze, you lose.
These kinds of narratives help to drive production and competition, and can be good for business overall. But on a personal level, they’re really unhelpful because they provoke fear and anxiety, which then leads us to make poor decisions.
When our fight-flight-survival system is activated our perspective narrows right down and we literally can’t see the bigger picture. We grab at things without thinking about the future consequences. We choose to work the weekend to earn a few more euros, rather than investing some time in our health or our relationships, or even re-examining our pricing structure.
We don’t invest in ourselves or in our business, because we don’t have enough.. not recognising that this is often how we GET to the point of having enough.
And so nothing changes, and we keep scrabbling away barely making enough to cover the bills.
I just want to help people
We tell ourselves that this is fine, because we just want to help people. After all, we work in education. That’s just how it is, right? It’s a caring profession, so we shouldn’t be charging much. And our students don’t have much money either.
Of course, there’s some truth to this. It’s probably unrealistic for most online teachers to aim at making six figures (though some can and do, if you aim at high earning students).
But there’s a HUGE difference between not expecting six figures, and barely making 5 figures. And if you’re scraping by it’s not because you don’t have valuable skills, and it’s almost certainly not even because your students can’t afford to pay more…
Ask yourself if you’re actually over-delivering and undercharging for any of these reasons:
– because you don’t actually feel that your skills are worth more… teaching is massively undervalued in most societies, especially perhaps because it’s mainly done by women.
– maybe you don’t want people to think badly of you, and think you’re greedy.
– if you’re honest, you want to rescue other people, and feel good about yourself as a virtuous and selfless person?
None of these are good reasons.
The first one obviously is self-perpetuating, and by subscribing to it, even subconsciously, you’re making the profession harder for everyone, and ultimately contributing to a system where great teachers leave the profession in droves.
The second one is about you, not them. Do you spend all your time thinking that your dentist, or your plumber is greedy? Or do you see them as professionals who get paid well for doing important jobs?
And the third one is completely disempowering your learners, and taking responsibility for them…and as teachers we all know that’s not in their best interests. Let them decide what they can and can’t afford.
If any of this is speaking to you, you need to really question your attitudes and beliefs about money.
Because overcoming scarcity mindset is REALLY important, and if you don’t investigate it, it will undermine everything else you’re doing.
You could start by joining my membership, The Confident ELT Freelancers Collective, to get more support with confidence, money mindset, and practical questions around tech, finances and legal stuff, within an amazing community of other ELT Freelancers.
If you’re an ELT freelancer/business owner you may feel a bit overwhelmed by all the business advice out there…
Should you start a podcast or a YouTube channel, a mailing list, a membership? Is it a good idea to keep things as simple as possible, or should you be looking to diversify? What does scaling even mean, anyway?!
Would you like some clear step by step advice tailored to your stage of business?
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