Piggy Bank Theory of Change

At some time in our lives we are encouraged to save our money for a rainy day. Perhaps, what you save is simply those pennies, dimes, nickels, and quarters you receive as change. Do you put them in a jar, a coin sorter, or maybe a piggy bank?

I seriously saved coins only once. My sister and I planned a trip to Great Britain for a significant birthday. I saved all the quarters I acquired over our three year planning process. In the end, those quarters paid for lunches for both of us during our the two-week trip. The financial benefit? My immediate need for cash the month of the trip was just a bit less because I had planned ahead and saved some my change.

Collecting “change” in life has benefits, too. There are similarities between collecting dimes or quarters and collecting life and work experiences. Eventually that unsolicited, and at times, unwanted, change can add up to something valuable. When you keep a mental or written record of that unanticipated change, it can pay off in financial benefits, as well as time benefits.

That’s my Piggy Bank Theory of Change. The change experiences you collect add up to the valuable assets of learning and knowledge. Assets to use for something great in the future.

Future Investment

Although my life has been full of changes, the experiences I gathered along the way usually added up to something I could spend when applying for a new job or a new opportunity. “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are,” Theodore Roosevelt once said.

If you’ve save the key elements of different changes in your life, you can find ways to invest or spend them. Just as you sort your coins into different piles, sometimes you have to sort your experiences in different ways. You’ve seen the recommendations about different resume styles. It’s a key opportunity to mix things up.

Ten Lessons Learned

Through all the changes and “reinvestments” in life, I’ve learned a few key practices:

  1. Keep a full list of all your experiences, training, and knowledge.
  2. Review and update that list periodically.
  3. Look for and highlight the connections between your experiences, training, and acquired knowledge.
  4. If relevant, keep some samples or records of your work and accomplishments.
  5. Discover, remember, and review your strengths.
  6. Research and frequently monitor the opportunities and options that are always around you.
  7. Reframe how you’ve presented yourself in the past, perhaps focus on a different strength than you have marketed before. In other words, sort your skills and experience in new ways and go for it.
  8. If you need to, create an opportunity for yourself.
  9. Believe that good things really can happen to you.
  10. Believe in yourself and be confident in your worth.

Not all changes pay off like you expect or hope they will, but there will be something of value in each change. Put it in your Piggy Bank.

The Piggy Bank Theory of Change provides one way of transforming an involuntary change into a more proactive change. Managing an involuntary change in a way that gives you a proactive choice takes some creativity. It requires envisioning possibilities in new and creative ways, but it can be done.

I was stuck in a foreign country for a year after completely my graduate degree because of a family member’s commitment. I took out my Piggy Bank and resorted my change. Then, I made an unsolicited call to a government official in a country where I didn’t speak the language. With resorted and purposefully organized skills, experiences and knowledge, I talked my way into two different and exciting gigs.

I admit that several of my opportunities resulted from having serendipity on one shoulder and an angel on the other. However, if you’re not prepared, serendipity can drop all the opportunities in the world at your feet and they will be either invisible or impossible.

Practice sorting your Piggy Bank

  1. Can you identify a change you were recently handed that you can set aside as a future “investment”?
  2. Imagining work that is totally different from your current employment situation, how would you identify and sort your skills, knowledge and experience to qualify for that work?

Change can be good. When you save it, change can add up to something of value. Do you need to find new ways to fill your Piggy Bank?

Excerpt from my book Now What Do I Do?

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