A couple of months ago, I wandered home from work and I thought about my own definition of success and why I felt as though I had yet to attain it. I asked myself the big life questions on K’ Road, just South of the shops that sell dildos and mesh camo nipple shirts.

On paper I am very successful and I am grateful for all that I have. But I don’t always feel that I have reached the goals I had hoped to reach by 30.

I had never actually asked myself the following questions before… What do you define as personal success for yourself? When will you feel as though you have ‘made it’?

For some, this means recognition of work done in the form of fame. For others, it is marrying the person of their dreams. For another it may be happy and healthy kids, or an expensive car.

For me, I figured success would be graduating with my PhD or making a difference – something meaningful. The answer that popped into my head was one that I did not expect.

I want to be financially independent and free. I will feel that I have made it when my car breaks down, needs $1000 worth of work done and it doesn’t cripple me. I will feel that I am a real grown-up when I don’t have to ask my parents for a loan. Success for me is being able to pay outright for an overseas holiday and removing “I can’t afford to do that” from my vocab.

 For someone who had never considered herself to be in any way driven by money, this was a surprising aspiration to have.


Finances and money are a sensitive and loaded topic. It is closely linked to self-worth, so it is a very scary conversation for many of us to have. I haven’t always been smart with my finances, or made my money work hard for me. I like expensive shoes and buying my lunch every day. I could tell you all about the prefrontal cortex of a developing child, but until recently, I had never heard of the term passive income and I had no interest in investments. That was stuff my parents worried about to keep their rainy-day fund topped up.

When I arrived home from my walk, I started reading numerous websites and realised that this was not a new topic of interest. There are plenty of sites, books and videos talking about how women relate differently to money and have different financial needs. But what struck me as interesting was that although more women than men graduate from University, we still save less than men, invest less and are less inclined to have a retirement plan. Our financial differences have nothing to do with being more or less educated – it is largely to do with how we think about money.

IMG_4513Although the world is definitely changing, there is no societal expectation for a woman to make large amounts of money. In fact, women millionaire moguls are sometimes considered aggressive, cold, workaholics who are probably crap mothers.

So not only is there less expectation for women to become high earners, there are also passive judgements that hold them back from even trying to have more for themselves.

I can’t speak for every woman, but I know I have had the following thoughts move through my head about money…

Does wanting to make money make me greedy? Is money bad or good? Will I have to sacrifice too much to make a lot of money? Money can’t buy me happiness. Rich people are superficial.

For all of my educational achievements, I am currently not where I want to be financially. After much reading and contemplation, I realised this is purely down to a faulty and ignorant money mindset. I have, at times, opted not to take responsibility for my own financial future.

I read that making money is 80% mindset and 20% action. In that moment I decided I could work harder and harder for the rest of my life to make more money, or I could work smarter and find ways to accumulate wealth even when I’m on holiday or better yet, sleeping. I also realised that if I didn’t change how I thought about money and if I didn’t start to educate myself on how to use this amazing tool, I would stay stuck exactly where I am. I have to take responsibility for myself and I certainly don’t expect Prince Charming to arrive on his white horse and take me to Louis Vuitton (I’m not going to lie and say I haven’t fantasised about this from time to time).

Its not about the money itself, its about what it can buy us. And it’s not even about the perfect Vuitton bag – it’s about the freedom to live our life exactly how we always dreamed. If that’s not cash well spent, I don’t know what is.

Next post: Using neuroscience to change a money mindset.

Much love xx

Bomber – Dotti   Cami – Topshop   Jeans – ASOS   Boots – Kathryn Wilson



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Hi, I’m Katie. I am a kiwi neuroscientist with a love for consuming and creating content. This site is where I share my personal thoughts and the thoughts of incredible minds from around the world. PhD in Neuroscience, University of Otago.

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