Years ago, just after I’d launched a digital agency, I had the opportunity to pitch an enterprise healthcare system. I wanted the project and I knew I could bring value. But the night before presenting, I had a serious hangup about money.
I didn’t want to come across as selfish or aggressive. I was an inexperienced negotiator and the imposter syndrome got the best of me – I didn’t know what to charge, and besides, who was I to charge this huge company lots of money anyway?
I called a friend – an experienced entrepreneur. I was floored when he told me he’d charge 3x what I was proposing. He also told me that charging too little would make us seem small and incapable. And, that there was nothing noble about discounting our services – it would take away my power to care for my team, my family, and my community.
Long story short, I learned a valuable lesson that next day. I went with the number he advised and got the project. Once I believed in our value and connected with my mission to create financial stability for everyone around me, money flowed. I recently spoke to Sonya Highfield, Wealth Expansion Coach about this link between spirituality, wealth, and well-being. Money is energy, and when you believe that you deserve abundance and well-being in every part of your life, the money shows up, too.
Sonya works with creative entrepreneurs who want to expand their abundance and well-being spiritually and strategically, while doing work they love. She offers powerful intuitive guidance alongside business & mindset coaching, to give clients the most holistic approach to reaching their goals and being happy humans. In this interview we explore the connections between spirituality and wealth.
We also talk about:
- How wealth and well-being are interconnected
- Sonya’s advice for reaching big goals
- How Sonya beat perfectionism and burnout
- Why desiring wealth isn’t selfish and essential for leaving your legacy
“….there’s no wrong time to put yourself first – and really trust that by doing that – it will benefit whatever career path you’re going down, whatever goals you have. And it will have a positive ripple effect out into the world for other people to see you living your best life, whatever that means for you.”
Connect with Sonya:
- Visit Real World Creatives
- Follow Sonya on Facebook
- Listen to the Wealthy in Pajamas podcast
- Follow Sonya on Instagram
Accelerate lasting success through harmony of mind, body, soul, and business
Jennifer Maggiore (JM): Today, I’m speaking with Sonya Highfield, consultant and founder of Real World Creatives. I’ve known her for a few years now and love that she infuses positivity and spirituality into everything she does. As a wealth expansion coach, she supports her clients in understanding that wealth is simply part of an overall holistic abundance. If you’re not sure what role spirituality plays in building wealth, you’ll enjoy listening in.
This is going to be a great conversation because I follow your socials. I love your content. I love your philosophy, and I just think so many people would benefit from learning more about how you approach money.
The first thing that I want to ask you about is that you place a lot of emphasis on spirituality and intuition. Spirituality and wealth, I think, maybe don’t always seem to connect in people’s minds. What does that link when you are working with your clients?
Sonya Highfield (SH): I’m going to tell you the original definition of wealth, and then you’ll see that they link completely. This was really actually what set off my own light bulb moment of why am I helping people? They’re showing up with money problems, but then I’m actually helping them with who they are and listening to their intuition and just so much more than just the dollars.
The original definition of wealth is the condition of wellbeing. When you take it from that angle, to me, being spiritual is being in tune with yourself, knowing yourself, being connected to nature, being connected to whatever great beyond cosmic forces that you feel aligned with.
Really that self part makes all the difference when you’re like, oh, okay, I’m trying to be connected to myself. I’m trying to learn about myself. What do I need? What do I like? How do I function best in the world? What am I here to do? Then realizing that, oh, okay, wealth is well-being, and we can apply that to life, business, money, all the things. So to really be whole, yeah, we need that financial well-being. That doesn’t mean we’re automatically happy, but oh, we’re working on ourselves. We are going after our happiness. We’re pursuing our happiness. So it really does work perfectly in tandem when you take that approach of just, how can I make my life as well as possible because that’s going to bring you wealth.
JM: I love that, and I think for me, it brings to mind that wealth isn’t just money. They are wealth in many aspects of our lives. Do I have relationship wealth? Am I wealthy when it comes to my health? When I think of it that way, it makes a lot of sense.
Why do you think people get so weird when it comes to money? Why does that make so much sense with all these other parts of our lives, but money is … People are just so often repelling it instead of attracting it. Why do people get so weird with money?
SH: Because we’ve been told all kinds of stories. We’ve been conditioned by capitalism and the patriarchy. It’s like we have all these generations of stories that have impacted how we understand money and how we think of ourselves in relation to money.
JM: Which is the real issue, right?
SH: Exactly. It’s all of the stories. It’s all of the beliefs. It’s all of the habits that we have learned, and all of the things that have influenced our perspective and relationship to money, from religion, to school, to the neighborhood we grew up in, to things that we see in the media, advertising, commercials telling us all the things that we need to buy because we’re broken, unhappy, and a loser if we don’t have all of these things that money purchases for us. It’s just really super normal that people have mixed emotions about money or have negative connotations about money and what that means.
The other big thing that I really believe is, we don’t need more miserable millionaires, which is that we don’t need people who have a lot of money, but are obviously out of tune with themselves, with the general public, with being a good human. Yes, let’s be good humans, but also let’s realize what that financial material wealth allows us to do. It allows us to be even better humans and really align ourselves with our values because we’re able to be generous and take care of ourselves, and then be generous with the other people and causes that we care about.
JM: I love that so much. We have that conversation regularly in our groups because I think there is this … We talk a lot about legacy. What is the legacy that we’re going to leave? There is this weird belief that if you’re a really good person or you’re doing God’s work, you shouldn’t want money, that there’s something weird about wanting money. I just always think, oh my gosh, no. More money means greater impact many times. If you are bringing that value, of course the money should follow. It’s just a tool that you could use to have so much more impact. So I think that’s a really great point that you make.
SH: Absolutely, and I like to say the money uplifts the mission. So whatever you’re here to do, whatever you care about, and really that legacy that you want to live beyond you is so often amplified by finances that go with it, whether that’s for scholarships or for your family or for donating to the whales. Well, whatever it is that you care about, that legacy that’s going to live on beyond you, beyond just the people who remember you and your personality, it’s really helpful if you have some money to back it all up.
JM: It is. It is helpful.
Sonya hasn’t always looked at wealth this way, though. She had to learn that her financial goals needed to align with her personal values to leave legacy and have a greater impact, but it took setting boundaries and overcoming perfectionism to get there.
Talk to me about some of the boundaries that you have had to put in place. One of the reasons that your work is so interesting to me is because it really flies in the face of so much of what society is teaching us. I think as women, self-care just falls by the wayside because we’re trying to take care of everybody. Building a business, as you know, it requires so much time and energy, and I think sometimes we just feel like that is just the way it is. That’s how it’s portrayed to us. It is a life of sacrifice, and it doesn’t have to be that way.
SH: Especially in my first business as a photographer, I started that when I was 22, and I really didn’t have any great models. Even though my parents all had their own businesses, it was just a very different landscape. I didn’t have mentors at that time. I just didn’t have really any concept or roadmap for how to do things. So being in my young 20s, I wanted to try and be the perfect professional, whatever I thought that meant. I really just tried to cram myself into whatever each client wanted and what I thought they wanted of me and who I thought they wanted me to be.
I think my burnout really came from that over-the-top people pleasing and having to switch my personality from client to client and not having good boundaries around my prices, giving discounts if I felt pressured into doing it or letting a shoot go hours over.
JM: Oh, my gosh. I think so many people can relate to that, getting pushed into these things that we think that people want because we think that’s what we’re supposed to do.
SH: Yeah. I think the other thing that really started to burn me out was perfectionism. There’s so much trial and error that goes into entrepreneurship, but I think that very real kind of anxiety around just like, I need to do it perfect, and if I don’t, people are going to get mad at me or I’m not going to get paid. Or I would spend so long editing photos that really I would end up messing up the photos because I overdid it. It was just that internal pressure that I had so much of the time that made me overwork and really stress about things that I shouldn’t have been stressed about.
Also, really not asking for help. That was such a revelation for me to start asking people for help and mentorship and how do I do this and how do I not do it all alone and really getting support in the process.
Yeah, that’s how it showed up for me and really just going through all those messy trial and the errors of, oh yeah, I need a contract. Oh yeah, I need a contract to say this. Oh yeah, I don’t need to pull over on the side of the road when I’m on vacation and driving through Aspen because a client’s requesting a link. You know what I mean? I would panic anytime someone reached out to me because I had to get it to them right away. That was really what sucked all of the fun out of doing what I loved, and also just started to burn me out, where it was like, wait a minute, my results aren’t actually changing. I’m just putting in all this extra stress and pressure and taking time, putting my energy there, and that is draining the life out of me.
JM: That part isn’t funny, but it’s hilarious how much I can relate to it. Everything that you’re saying, I feel like I have experienced. It’s funny because perfectionism is a huge issue for me. I think back to the times that I kept working on a project and working on a project, and I’m like, I’m making eight bucks an hour for how much time I just put into this project. You do have to really hold those boundaries, and I think as somebody who grew up in a family with wishy-washy boundaries, it’s really easy to bring that into business. You start to learn over time, every boundary we have in place, every item in our contract, all of those things came from each of those experiences. So in a way, they’re good. It’s great to have those experiences, but it’s unfortunate that it has to be at the expense of our sanity, financially, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, taking this toil on us.
SH: Business really is a marathon, and I think if you’re someone who wants to build that legacy from your work, you have to take care of yourself. Otherwise, it’s not going to happen. People that want to be leaders, it’s like, well, who do I admire? I admire leaders that take care of themselves and then are good bosses, employers, guides for the people that are working with them. For me, I don’t admire the people who wake up at 4:00 AM and run 16 miles and then work for 12 hours and [inaudible 00:10:45]
JM: Girl, if somebody else gives me the advice that I need to get up a little bit earlier, I’m going to freak out. It’s just not happening. I’m like no.
SH: That’s not what it is that I want out of life, and so I think to be your own best role model.
JM: Right. What’s the kind of leader you want to be for your audience, your clients? Absolutely.
SH:Yeah, and leading yourself. It’s like when we’re working for ourselves, we have to make all the decisions. No one’s telling us what to do. So really it’s like, yeah, we have to be brave enough and sturdy enough in our needs to say, “Guess what? I’m not taking calls until 11:00 AM.” I spend the mornings working on myself, taking care of myself, feeling good in my body and mind, and walking the dog. Then when I have that energy and capacity, then I can show up for you.
JM: What is your advice for women who feel like they are … If they’re building anything, they are building a business, they’re building wealth, they’re building a healthier lifestyle, building a family, how can they do all of those things without that self-sacrifice, without sacrificing self-care, the fun in life, the things that they want to be doing? What is your advice for avoiding that self-sacrifice?
SH: I think definitely having a vision of your bigger picture goal and then also really looking at your daily life, because I think that’s where we skip over a lot of times. We’ll be like, here’s my big goal. Here is what I’m after. Really, the magic of progress and transformation and success comes from how we run our daily lives. A lot of times, I’ll have people check in with themselves and be like, “Okay, what would your ideal workday be? Not vacation time, ideal work day, real life. You still have kids, you still have a dog, you still have to make money.” Oftentimes it’s just those little tweaks, that it’s like, oh, I want to start my day with something healthy. Okay, I need to have fruit on hand to make my smoothie. Oh, okay, actually I can do that. For some reason, it seems like a big deal, but actually it’s not that big deal. Okay. I want to just check in on my money. Okay, then I’m going to take 10 minutes a day and look at my accounts, or 10 minutes of journaling, 10 minutes of meditation.
It’s really looking at that daily schedule and seeing, okay, what can I ditch? Maybe it’s that hour that I’m scrolling on Instagram, and I could actually meditate and stretch and clean the house. You know what I mean? You can fit things in when … You’re not sacrificing, you’re just choosing. You’re taking back the power of choice and time. Yeah, we’re not robots. We’re not going to be perfect. We’re not going to be able to do everything, but I think that just so many people let their days get away from them because they don’t have priorities built in.
For me, it’s like it’s not enough to just take two vacations a year. It’s like I need to rest and recharge every day. That might look a little different every day, but I need to do something for myself every day. I understand for sure if you’re a parent, that is a way different time schedule than other humans who don’t have kids. But it’s, again, just like, can I take two minutes for myself in the morning to ground and tune in and set an intention for the day? Can I take a few minutes at bedtime to put lotion on myself? Whatever it is, I think it really comes down to what’s the big picture that I’m working towards, and how can I be working on it and taking care of myself every day so that I’m getting where I want to go and enjoying the process?
JM: I love everything. There’s so much that I am hearing in what you are saying, and it’s so, so good. I don’t know if you’ve heard this saying, everybody wants transformation, but no one wants to change. It’s sort of a dark take because I don’t think it’s that people don’t want to change. Change is hard. But what I’m hearing is that there is some intentionality, there’s some awareness, and there’s some planning. Everybody looks at that macro level of, these are my dreams, here’s my vision board. This is all the exciting stuff that I’m going to do, but not looking at the micro level of like, okay, that’s great. You want to eat healthier. What does that look like? What do you need to have in your home? Where are you going to carve out that five minutes in your day so that you can start the day grounded or reground throughout the day? So it’s such great, great advice.
Sometimes we learn for ourselves; sometimes we learn from the people around us. Listen to Sonya’s parting advice gleaned from her mother-in-law. Remember, you always have a choice.
SH: My mother-in-law is currently passing away.
JM: Oh, sorry.
SH: So I’m just extra aware of how really precious our time here is and how we do have so much choice, and a lot of the times we’re choosing to complain about things or we’re choosing to be resentful towards our business, towards choices that we have made, or we’re holding ourselves back from really just honoring who we know we are.
I would just say that there’s no wrong time to put yourself first, and really trust that by doing that, it will benefit whatever career path you’re going down, whatever goals you have, and it will have a positive ripple effect out into the world for other people to see you living your best life, whatever that means for you.