Change, Happiness and the Balancing of Time vs. Money

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new” – Socrates

Times of change and transformation often mirror life.  Such is the case with the continual trade-off between time and money.  When we are younger we have lots of time, but little money.  As we mature and become more successful in our professional life, many have money, but never seem to have enough time to enjoy it. In a recent conversation this topic came up.  We both commented on how many people we knew who seemed unhappy in their current jobs.  They didn’t hate their professional life, but they weren’t thrilled.  In many cases the job paid the bills, was deemed “good enough”, so they kept at it.

The Scary Reality

Upon further reflection I decided to do some poking around.  Not surprisingly a number of studies have been done on this and according to a 2015 Gallup poll almost 70% of employees are not satisfied with their jobs. Given how much time we spend at work this means:

70% of working adults in the U.S. are living productive, yet unfulfilled lives and are not taking any action to change. 

As I thought about this I realized people were trading their non-renewable resource of time for the renewable resource of money to do things they were not thrilled about. I found this realization scary!

Many “experts” such as Dean Mercado, Mark Victor Hansen, even Tony Robbins made a lot of money asserting the path to wealth is to stop trading time for money.  The reality is everyone, even the experts, trade time for money.  The experts take time to create products, services and offerings in order to make money.  So while it sounds good, the idea of not trading time for money is simply a misnomer.

What to do?

If you are going to trade time for money, do something you love

As you consider your own situation think about if what you are doing makes you happy and what trade-offs you are making consciously or unconsciously to do it.  Most of us spend the vast majority of our waking hours on the job so I for one want to spend it doing something I’m passionate about and where I’m making a difference.

If you are not doing a job you are completely passionate about and you’re not happy with your current time / money trade-off, here is a simple three-step process to help you improve your situation:

  1. Think about and document your strengths.  What are you good at?  What do you enjoy?  Where does your passion lie, etc.  There are lots of options out there to help you if you need some help.  Here are a couple links to help you out including a list of personal attributes and another more structured approach for identifying your strengths called Strengths Finder.
  2. Next, reflect on the characteristics of your ideal role.  Don’t focus on titles, but rather the softer aspects of the work:  the kinds of people you prefer to deal with, the impact you want to have, what would make a fulfilling role, the balance with other aspects of your life, etc.
  3. Once you have the list of your strengths and your ideal job consider your current role and how well it intersects with both.

Based on how closely your ideal and your current situation intersection ask yourself what you would want to do differently.  If you realize a change is needed this will often provide insight into which direction the change should take.

Once you have a better vision of what you want to change the next step is to move decisively.  There’s never a better time to make a change in your life than today.

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