Time is Money is Time
I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "Time is money," but have you ever stopped to consider that the opposite is also true? By opposite, I mean "Money is time."
The amount of money you have in your possession represents the time you've invested in serving employers or customers.
For example, if you have a $100 bill and if you take home $10 per hour from your work, then that $100 bill represents 10 hours of your invested time ($100 ÷ $10 = 10).The question is, will your investment of time generate a net-profit or a net-loss?
Money DOES NOT Equal Profit
What most of us fail to realize, is that the money we collect for the time we invest serving others has very little to do with whether or not we actually profit from our labors.
Because to actually profit from an investment of our time, the emotional revenues we receive from the money we are paid must exceed any emotional expenses we experience while investing our time.
Is there something you would rather do with your time than spend it at work? If so, then your work -- no matter how much you like it -- is generating emotional expenses.
And the more you dislike your work, the higher those expenses will be.
This means that in order to profit from our work, we must make sure that we only spend our net wages on things that will yield emotional revenues in excess of the expenses we incurred earning them.
Of course, if you hate your work it then becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find things to spend your money on that will return more than your work is costing you.
This explains why it's so important to choose your work based on how well it's suited to your talents, abilities, values, and genuine interests, rather than just on how much money it pays.
Hate Your Work? Then What?
It's true, we all have to work in order to feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves and our families.
And it's also true that most of us can't be too choosy as to which jobs we take when we find ourselves without an income.
However, if you find yourself in a job you hate, the worst thing you can do is to attempt to immediately offset its emotional expenses by spending your wages on short-lived emotional "highs."
Short lived emotional highs, otherwise known as "instant gratifications", include activities like:
- Expensive entertainment
- Buying on credit
- Drug usage
And sure, these activities can generate high emotional returns up front, but they almost always end in an emotional net-loss (hangover pain exceeds the party high) -- thereby serving only to add to the emotional losses you are experiencing at work, not offset them.
If your work is costing you a fortune in emotional expenses, then your primary focus should be on finding and pursing a work that will be less emotionally expensive, i.e., a work that fulfills your need for creative self-expression.
Steps to Transitioning to a Work You Love
Here are the basic steps I took to go from working at a job I hated to a work that fulfills my need for creative self-expression.
- Stop spending your money (time receipts) on instant gratifications. These only result in emotional net-losses, which in turn increases the need for even more instant gratification. If left unchecked, this viscous cycle can lead to emotional bankruptcy.
- Work to lower your cost of living. The lower your cost of living, the more you are free to choose a work based on how well it suits you (talents, abilities, values, and genuine interests) instead of on how much it pays.
- Use the savings from #1 and #2 to first pay off high-interest debt, and then to increase your savings. As the calculator on this page will show you, saving small portions of your money (time) now, can greatly increase the amount of discretionary time you have in the future.
- Invest a significant portion of your discretionary time in discovering and learning a different, more self-fulfilling work. Use your past experiences as a guide to create a blueprint for what you believe to be your perfect work, and then begin to pursue that work on a volunteer and/or "pay as you go" basis. That way if you're wrong you won't be trapped by debt and fixed expenses.
Once you make the transition from a work you hate to a work that satisfies your need for creative self-expression, it's like putting your personal financial management on auto-pilot.
When you love your work you will do whatever it takes to preserve your freedom to continue working at it, and the once strong urges to indulge in instant gratifications will naturally decline to manageable levels.
You, Not Your Employer, Determines How Much You Earn
On the other hand, as the Time Value Calculator will show you, if you invest the proceeds from one hour of work, you could double, triple, or quadruple (or more) your earnings from that one hour of work.
So the next time you feel the need to ask for a raise, remind yourself that the person who has the authority to grant you biggest pay raise is the person you see staring back at you in the mirror.