Most people would find a 16+ hour a day, 7 days a week job undesirable no matter how much the pay was. When it comes to making money, there is naturally trade-offs in time and energy. Today I was thinking about how much focus there is on building wealth and “making money” in our society. In reality, though, there are many things that are more important in life than making money. Here are five of them:
My relationship with my wife is and always will be a top priority for me. It’s much more important than any sum of money. Being there for my friends and family is important for me, and I don’t want my career pursuits to jeopardize that. Both in the good times and the bad, I want to be able to share in those times with my family and friends. I’m sure thousands (maybe tens of thousands?) of books have been written about balancing relationships and work, and it’s a constant struggle to balance the two.
When you put life in perspective, material possessions are nice while you are here but it’s not something that is going to last forever. When you are on your death bed you aren’t going to be thinking about how you wish you had made just a little more money or spent a few more hours at the office. My faith is very important to me and I think it’s important that money never becomes a higher priority than living out my faith.
You can’t put a dollar value on good health, which is why the health care reform debate was so intense. Unfortunately health care takes time and resources, so in the end every procedure and pill has a price tag. What I find interesting is when people are upset about expensive premiums on health insurance (which they shouldn’t have to worry about as much anymore with the implementation of Medical Loss Ratio and Health Care Exchanges) despite the fact that insurance is a safety net guaranteeing you care (without going broke) when you get sick.
I nearly died from asthma as a child and spent a few years sitting inside watching all the other kids play out in the snow. But you know what? I think even then I knew that I was lucky just to have the medicine and doctors that keep me healthy. Health is priceless in my opinion.
Everything I have mentioned so far can be tied into time: there’s only a limited amount of it, and once it’s gone you can’t have it back. Ironically, time seems to fly when we are having a good time and everything seems to be right in the world; it barely moves when we are going through a tough situation. Time is the great equalizer: no one can purchase more of it! It doesn’t matter how much money you have – you will always have a limited amount of time, and your life can be cut short at any time. Make it count.
Freedom is a broad word to throw out, but allow me to explain. If you are a slave to your job and income source, is it really worth it? If you are required to be in the office sixty hours a week, answer email at night (from home) and be on-call 24/7, is it really worth the money? I am not proposing a one-size-fits-all answer to this, it’s just something to take into consideration when evaluating whether you are trading too much for that pay check.
Another way to look at it is jobs that offer flexible work schedules. Employees who take these jobs often value the freedom that comes with it just as much if not more than the actual paycheck they are drawing from it. Yet another example is the entrepreneur who has the freedom and control that most corporate workers could only dream of.
I personally believe that money should be leveraged to help us live a more fulfilling life and I definitely do not frown upon the pursuit of wealth. Yet we still have to deal with the reality that pursuing higher income and additional skills can be demanding of our time and potentially detrimental to our relationships.
Instead of blindly pursuing higher income we should keep in mind the reason why we want to pursue that income. I’m as guilty as anyone of losing sight of the things that are more important than money. Sometimes we need to take a step back and remember why we work in the first place and what our end goals are.
What do you value more than money? What would you add to the list?
Photo by Raquel Baranow