What Does it Mean to be Financially Secure?

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Every year the usual articles hit the headlines: "Best Jobs for the Year Ahead!" and "Most Secure Jobs for [Insert Year]!". And, year after year, I have to resist the urge to scream -- stop lying to everyone, will you? Why do I feel the spin on these articles is a lie? Because one size does not fit all and security has nothing to do with a job, a particular industry, or the state of the economy.

The latest and greatest of these articles was released by AOL in late 2010 called "The Top 10 Most Secure Jobs in 2011". Their preamble to this list includes these parameters:

But job security doesn't have to be a total game of chance, as research and statistics do point out some jobs and some industries as being more stable than others. Using the U.S. Department of Labor as our guide, we've compiled this list of the top 10 most secure jobs for 2011.

Okay, I buy the fact that the governmental statistics will shed light on the number of people who lost jobs of a given field and the rate of job growth in a given field for a set period of time, but this fundamentally has nothing to do with security in your professional life. I would bet just about anything that COBOL programmer fell on a list just like one of these at one time. Take a look around you ... how many thriving COBOL programmers are in your midst today? This is not to be mean to COBOL programmers in any way, of course, but simply to point out that even the seemingly most secure job or profession... well... isn't.

There is job security if you are someone who writes these lists however as Yahoo! Finance has their 50 Best Careers of 2011 and The Wall Street Journal has their Best and Worst Jobs of 2011 and U.S. News has their 50 Best Jobs and Huffington Post and so forth. One thing is clear from most of the lists -- if you are mathematically, technically, or scientifically inclined, you're in good hands.

Here's the rub, though. If you lack the talent and/or desire for one of these so-called best careers, then what? You should live someone else's life? Someone else's idea of what your one precious go-around on the planet should be about? Even the most well-paid, secure employees often find themselves yearning for more satisfaction and fulfillment. So job security in the traditional sense does not really bring security or happiness. Consider the fact that entrepreneneurship has risen so dramatically. According to the Kauffman Foundation, despite the recession, in 2009 entrepreneurial activity rose to its highest level in 14 years exceeding even the 1999-2000 peak technology boom. Why? Partly because starting your own company is a challenge (albeit a fulfilling one) but even moreso because people want to be more empowered to shape their own professional and financial destinies.

Women make up a large share of the entrepreneurial boom. For centuries men have led the entrepreneurial frontier. But, for a multitude of reasons it is changing. It’s now the women’s turn to be the leaders of entrepreneurship.

Barbara Stanny, a leading expert on women and money points out why there is a different, more ease-filled path to financial security than the one so many have been taught. That is a purposeful, service-oriented path.

These are two very different paths to affluence. “Show me the money” versus “Show me how to help.” Too many women—like me—futilely struggle to navigate the first path, without realizing they have another option.

When I speak to groups about the work I do, I point out that financial security is about you being at your best and using your brilliance (where your talents and passions intersect) in a way that serves the world. You stay relevant by continuously growing and improving yourself with an integrated approach of external skills and inner personal growth work. Then you go out and make the world a better place by filling a need or solving a problem. Money is just the means of exchange that measures the value we place on something. You receive it for the value you provide whether as part of a company or to customers directly.

For some that looks like minimizing your monthly obligations to increase your freedom. Others are more willing to go out on a limb, extend themselves with the intention of increased income generation. There is no right or wrong approach because there are as many examples of people earning a lot of money but still feeling scared to death about finances as there are of people earning moderate income that become the millionaire next door.

Financial security is about being able to generate or have access to money so you can meet your needs and fulfill your heart's desires. It's as simple and complex as that.

What do you think? How has the path to financial security changed?


Paula Gregorowicz is The Intuitive Intelligence™ Coach and helps women professionals and entrepreneurs get out of their own way and succeed on their own terms through the power of wiser decisions. Grab the free ecourse "5 Steps to Turn Your Fear into Freedom" at her website http://www.thepaulagcompany.com

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