There’s a strange yet consistent life law that many of us forget about, myself included. It’s worth contemplating once in a while and seeing if you need to recalibrate where you fall on the scale vs. where you SHOULD be.
- If you’re anything like me and the vast majority of all humans that have ever lived, when you’re very young, you have all the time in the world and no money.
- As you enter adulthood, you start to make money and often times, pursue additional sources of income at the expense of your free time.
- If and when you have children and get into the sweetspot of your career, your free time is virtually eaten up completely and you even start to forgo activities that may either save you money or make you more money if they take considerable time. You’re spending most of your time with work-related and family-related activities.
- Then you’re old. Your kids have left the house, your friends have drifted away or perhaps passed away and you’re retiring or living out your golden years. If you planned right and didn’t encounter disaster earlier in life, you have all the money you need and then some. But time is ticking away. What is endearingly referred to as “the golden years” is really the sunset to a long, great day.
When you reach this point in your life, you stop dreaming about things you want to do someday and instead look back on things you DID in life. Perhaps you always wanted to learn how to ski, but you were picking up extra shifts on the weekend for more money. Perhaps you always wanted to learn how to play piano but you were blogging at night to make extra money. Perhaps you wish you had more memories of your kids, but you were burning the midnight oil at the office. While money is a fungible medium of exchange, time is not. You can’t trade back that extra money you made for more time on earth.
I sometimes wonder if I’ve been too busy on the “ambition/money” side and haven’t just kicked back and enjoyed life enough. My wife says that I’m always onto the next big project. When I entered the workforce, I worked tons of hours, nights and weekends included as a shift supervisor. I got out of that lifestyle and jumped into an MBA which took me four years to complete at night. As I was wrapping that up, I took up blogging and eventually turned it into a decent part-time gig (see the Real Economics of Blogging for what makes me tick). Now that we have three kids, I’m definitely prioritizing blogging solely for 9PM onward and a few hours on weekends during nap time. But at what cost? I haven’t watch a football or baseball game on TV in years. I don’t read anymore like I used to. I gave up my piano lessons (although I still work with my son while he takes his lessons). And I don’t just kick back and zone out and relax like it’s nice to do now and then. On one hand, it feels good to be busy, motivated, ambitions and successful. On the other, I wonder if it’s taking a toll on my health, my relationships and my balance. I’m writing this because it’s on my mind. This weekend, we had a birthday party, an Easter Egg Hunt, lots of playing outside, a I squeezed in a quick workout. But it’s Sunday night and I feel compelled to have a Monday morning post out as usual.
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re relatively young and somewhere along the early or middle part of the continuum I spoke of. Use this reminder to think about how your balance is today, where you want it to be, and whether you think you’ll look back fondly on the balance you struck when you were younger. You won’t regret it!