Mohammad Al-Ubaydli’s blog

How can I change my life with no money?

Posted in Books, Entrepreneurship by Dr Mohammad Al-Ubaydli on February 2, 2009

On November 30th, 2008, someone typed “how can i change my life with no money” into Google. The third hit was to my blog post “There is no money in change management”. That person read the article and I doubt that it was useful to their predicament. Whoever that person is, I am sorry I could not help you. But you got me thinking… How could I change my life with no money?


The first thing to say is that no one has no money. At least, no one who has access to a computer with access t0 Google can make that claim. This point is particularly worth making if you are using a computer in a library. Even though you do not own the computer, you have access to someone that can spend money for your benefit, i.e. the library.

OutliersUsing other people’s money is a powerful secret. Henry Ford was a master at it, taking money from the orders of cars, building those cars from suppliers’ raw materials, and only then paying the suppliers. It is well worth reading his autobiography. There is lots of money out there with which to change your life. For example, instead of paying for an expensive course, ask your librarian to buy the books you need for the course and study by yourself. I do this all the time and the librarians are grateful because they have a budget to spend but need help with identifying which books would be the most useful to their community. Around the world, there are grants, scholarships and loans available to help people who are serious about changing their lives.

The next thing to say is that changing your life is hard. Really hard. You have to put in the hours and one book that has had me thinking about this is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I usually gush about his books but a recent review by The Register has me chastened. The main point of the book is worth making though. There is no overnight success, success takes work, and the most successful worked the most.

So if you want to change careers it will take some time. That time includes working for free, or for low wages, to build skills in a new career. This is another example of using other people’s money because the alternative is for you to pay to gain those skills at an expensive course. The education from a job is much more practical and likely to increase your earning power than a university course, providing you are focused on learning from your job.

Finally, the best time to start is now. One of the most interesting things I learned in the USA is what happens when people change jobs. If I sound naive, it is because I had led a sheltered life while working as a doctor. Everyone I had previously worked with or for had a clinical career path mapped out. Job security was high and career progression mostly a matter of time.

But in the USA I saw my worst nightmare on a regular basis: parents fired from their jobs. I also saw something I had not dreamed of: people leaving their current jobs without a plan for what to do next. I do not recommend either scenario, but I will say that a few months afterwards each person was happier than they were in their old job. Often, they had higher salaries, and always they were in situations that they wanted to be in rather than ones they felt compelled to stay in.

So, to answer the question of the anyonymous searcher on my site: use the money of others to train yourself for a new life, and start doing so right now.

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4 Responses

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  1. John Knight said, on February 2, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    We often hold unexamined assumptions that needlessly consume much of our resources. For nearly forty years, my wife and I each had a car. In the last few years, we have been without even one car. Actually, we find car-less living a joy.

    Of course, each person’s special circumstances may intensify the benefits of examining assumptions. In my case, I meditate which consumes fifty minutes each day. Since I can meditate on the bus but not while driving giving up the car gives me an hour on most days.

    The takeaway is “examine your assumtions”.

  2. Dan said, on February 3, 2009 at 5:08 am

    Mohammad, haven’t been to the Willard in awhile, hope this post finds you well.

    If there is anyone who under desperate circumstances find themselves here, take heart that tough times never last but tough people do. Here are some of the things you can do to enact change without money:

    If time is money, how much time are you spending perpetuating a habit that does nothing to better your life? If you are spending hours to find escape – you won’t. Once you realize something must be done, you must do it.

    Challenge all your assumptions. Why are people with less or more materially happier than you? What are they doing differently? Are the less affluent more grounded? Are those more affluent better disciplined?

    Those lacking goals fall victim to cynicism. When you were younger was it fame and fortune that motivated you? Why didn’t it work? How is that different from now?

    Once you read this through, you are at the point now where you must make choices. Adversity always creates opportunity if you are attuned to your surroundings.

    If you feel that your gift or talent would be the ideal way to support yourself, look up SCORE in your phone book. This is an organization of retired executives that voluntarily assist start-up businesses.

    Sometimes we feel alienated in familiar surroundings. Change your surroundings if nothing more than an hour. Talk to people that appear pleasant and genuinely nice.

    Help those with a kind deed. It isn’t all about you. On the other hand, your good nature has everything to do with you and where you go from here.

    Learn to laugh again. The library only charges if you bring the DVD back late.

    Last bit: Stop beating yourself up as you reflect. Letdowns are supposed to be surpassed instead of being your barrier. Sometimes we are the last people we seek to become friends with. You are entitled to be a human made in God’s image.


  3. Stuart G Hall said, on February 7, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Hmm, I agree money helps. But is money casual to change? If not then what is? Positive thinking helps. See the positive in everything from the smallest to the largest. Do that until it happens without thinking;-)

  4. Rose said, on February 13, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Well, i’m on the brink of doing some very radical changes in my life…without money…one of them is going back to TN, getting a job and finally living for me. For years i had lived to please others, and the changes in my life were just a change in boss, first it was my father, then my husband and now i’m fed up living for others while i fade within myself and grow resentful. Because i was the enabler of the people who used me, and i didn’t want to see it. So change starts with me, and this time it’s for me. I’ll let you know if your advice works, but i am sure it will. God has never let me “jump without a cushion in place”. Hopefully he has one lined up before i land face first…lol…anyway, here i go…what’s the worse that can happen? end up in the streets? maybe, but it won’t be forever, i won’t let myself stay there, i will get myself up.

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