Before we talk about money and time, I’d like to introduce you to three people:
Meet my fictional friend Peter. He is 42 and runs a successful consulting business. Things have been going so well that he has hired three other people to help with the workload. Combine that with his administrative assistant, Peter’s small business is no as small as it was three years ago. Peter is working about the same amount as he did before he started his business, about 50 hours per week. He doesn’t mind because his earnings have tripled. Life is good for Peter and his family.
Meet my fictional friend Lisa. She just turned 30ish (who really knows how old a woman is… you’re never suppose to ask). Many days, you can see Lisa spending most of her time with her family. Like Peter, she also has a successful consulting business, but most of her clients are scattered around the world. After the long hours in a corporate job, Lisa and her family decided it would be better for everyone if she spend more time at home with her young children. She still works, but only 15 – 20 hours per week and mostly in the evenings when the kids are in bed. The first few years were a lot of hard work getting the business started, but she is enjoying the fruits of her labor. Life is good for Lisa and her family.
And finally, meet my fictional friend John. He is 32 and … well, I’m not sure what he does or where he is right now. Every so often he sends me a picture from his travels or we catch a quick Skype call from some country I have never been. John likes to read and when I suggested he read the The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris, I had no idea what I had started. John dove into the material, researched for what seemed like months, and started an online business. For the next three years, he worked almost day and night building the business, but he had a goal. Once the business was flourishing, he hired a replacement. You see, John’s goal was to travel the world. He started the business to fund his travels. He pays his employees well and they are very loyal. Life is good for John.
Which one of these fictional friends do you identify with?
Money or time?
People work and start businesses for all different reason. Some want power. Some want money. Some want time. Each of these friends have a similar story but a radically different outcome. They each started and own their own business. They each making a living through that business. The big differences are the amount of time they work and the money they make. As the old saying goes, you either have time or money, but you rarely have both.
Have you considered why you work?
If you work for someone else, is it doing what your were born to do and have a passion for? Do you live up to your potential everyday?
If you work for yourself, is it for the freedom, the money, the control?
We all need money to live. Most people will say that is why they work but I don’t buy it. I believe we are born with a desire to work and accomplish things. But why do we work? More specifically, why do we work in the way we do? If you love your job, great. If you don’t, why are you still there? Are you close to retirement? Does changing jobs or careers terrify you and mean a huge cut in pay?
60,000 is a lot of hours
We devote most of our lives to work. If we only work the standard 40 hours per week, we will work more than 60,000 hours in 30 years. That is a long time to hate a job or the blink of an eye if you are having a great time. Money will come and go, but time is our only non-renewable resource. Once it is gone, there will be no more.
So let’s get back to the question, why do you work. Is it for money or time? It really doesn’t matter which one, but it is vital that you have answered that question for yourself. If you are not careful, that decision will be made for you. Before you know it, years have passed. You may be reaching middle age with children you hardly see. You may be getting closer to retirement when you realize that work will have to continue while longer than you had expected. You may have lead an unremarkable life.
Live a deliberate life
It is imperative that you are deliberate with how you live your life. If you want to chase money, go for it. If you like your free time, great. Just realize there will be sacrifices either way you go. Don’t fall into the trap of blaming the life you have on the economy, your boss, your business, the President, aliens, or Nessy, the Loch Ness Monster. Be deliberate in the way you life your life.
You often can’t have both time and money; you have to make choices. The important thing to remember is whichever path you follow, make sure it is a path that you actively decide on. Don’t be the leaf that is blown around by the wind. Decide on a goal, focus on that goal, and go after it.
Have you decided?