When I read features editor Judy Lessin’s reader roundup question this month, “Would you continue to do nails if you were financially independent?”, I expected to see a bunch of “Are you kidding me?” replies. At the very least, I thought there would be a few people who said that while you love what you do, you’d take off to some extravagant island to sip fruity drinks and spend your days in the spa — getting pampered yourselves. Sure, I figured there would be a few of you who love your jobs so much you’d still want to work no matter what your financial situation might be, but I didn’t expect the unanimity of your responses.

I guess I underestimated the passion of nail techs, because every single tech who responded to the question answered with a resounding “YES!” It seems the love you all have for your clients and the impact you have on their lives is why you do what you do in the first place. And I commend (and honestly, admire) that attitude. I have met so many of you throughout my 10 years here at NAILS, I guess I should have known how you would respond. I mean, how many trade shows have I been to over the years where I see the energy and excitement about new products, techniques, and styles?

We did ask a follow up question: “If the answer is yes, would you change the way you do business?” And here is where we saw the chinks in the armor — and an opportunity to improve your work life without a windfall. While the techs said they would keep working, they wanted shorter hours and more help. One tech said her focus would change so she could do more charity work. And more than one said they’d do more for their clients — work at a more leisurely pace, offer more extras and treats, and upgrade to larger spaces with better equipment.

I’ve always read that people who win the lottery or get a big unexpected inheritance end up with more money-related problems. So for fun, let’s separate the money factor from what seems underneath to be a true desire to change your work — even just a little. If you said you’d work shorter hours if you were financially independent, that means you’re working too many right now (I doubt you said this if you’re a part-timer). So ask yourself: How can I cut back on hours, yet make the same money and serve my clients just as well? The answer might be a price increase, a change in the type of services you offer, or the addition of an assistant. I don’t think you need the winning lottery ticket to do that.

Are you someone who’d give her extra time to charity? How can you combine the need to make money and the desire to give it away? How about launching a charitable event in the salon that gives a percentage to charity? What about hosting a “Manicure-a-thon” or some other special event to help support a favorite good cause?

Even I, who imagines myself lying on a Hawaiian beach forever if I had lotto winnings in the bank, would eventually want to get back to work. As much fun as a break from the routine sounds, life is meaningful when you’re productive, giving back, and looking forward to the future.

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