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The Career Coach: Taxed to the Max

We may feel robbed when paying taxes to the government, but we tax ourselves much worse with some insidious habits. Pamela Kleibrink Thompson explains.

pam.gif Pamela Kleibrink Thompson

"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Most people know that quote from Benjamin Franklin. We may feel robbed when paying taxes to the government, but we tax ourselves much worse with some insidious habits.

The Laziness Tax

Franklin noted, "Idleness taxes us much more," than the government. You only have so many hours in a day. How much time do you spend watching television, playing video games and Internet surfing? These distractions can consume a lot of time. If you are putting off tweaking an animation by playing your favorite computer game, you have to examine your priorities. Why tax yourself?

Work on your dreams every day. Franklin states, "Time is money." Use it to do what you want and to get what you want. If you dream of being an animator, work on drawing, on your demo reel, or a new animation. If you dream of being a writer, work at it. Write every day. Californian author Carolyn See's working motto is: "A thousand words a day and one charming note."

The Attitude Tax

Energy is another precious resource that can be taxed heavily by discouraging people. Your enthusiasm can soon be sapped by negativity, so hang out with encouraging people -- people who support your goals. Do your friends think it's cool that you want to be a voice over actor or do they think you are being silly? Your time is precious, spend it with people who are supportive. People who discourage you erode your resolve. Why do you think they are described as "taxing?"

The Consumption Tax

Your earnings are often taxed much more by consumer debt than by the government. Franklin wrote, "Buy what thou hast no need of, and ere long thou shalt sell thy necessaries." Spending foolishly is a tax on your income and your future. The next time you see something you want, make sure you can afford it. Ask yourself, will it help you reach your goals? Do you really need it?

The first line in chairman and CEO of Viacom Sumner Redstone's autobiography A Passion to Win is: "I don't splurge much in my life." Mr. Redstone is one of the wealthiest men in the world.

The Short Term Gains Tax

Franklin pointed out, "Think what you do when you run in Debt, you give to another power over your liberty." Buying anything you don't need is a tax on your earnings and your future.

If you are working just for money and think you can't afford to pursue your dream job, think about the price you are paying. Financial freedom, or liberty as Franklin puts it, is vital to pursuing your dreams. Free yourself of those golden handcuffs.

Sumner Redstone took a big pay cut when he resigned from his partnership at a law firm to help his father in his business, the Northeast Theater Corporation. In 1954, his earnings dropped from over $100,000 a year to only $5,000. But his decision to learn about the entertainment business had a huge impact in his life and his wallet in both the short term (fewer gains) and long term (incredible wealth). Would you be willing to take that kind of risk?

When filling out your tax returns this year, realize that government taxes may impact your wallet, but your habits can impact your life and be much more taxing, whether through laziness or doubt, consumer debt, or short term thinking. Don't put your life on hold waiting for a better break or the right time to pursue what you want to do. Take a tip from Redstone, "Life begins whenever you want it to begin." Begin it now.


Autobiography and Other Writings by Benjamin Franklin, edited by Russel B. Nye. A Passion to Win by Sumner Redstone with Peter Knobler.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a recruiter, career coach, curriculum consultant and columnist. She helps clients define goals and devise strategies to attain them. She speaks regularly at schools and national conferences on career and work related issues.