As a relatively new member of the FIRE community, I am still happily surprised to find well-known “classics” and ideas that I’ve missed along my own journey. Your Money or Your Life is one of these gems that somehow eluded me until now.
In this post, I’ll be reviewing Chapter 7 (For Love or Money: Valuing Your Life Energy – Work and Income).
If you’ve been following the series as collaborated by my fellow PF blogger colleagues, you no doubt are beginning to see the incredible gift of wisdom bestowed by authors Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez.
Chapter 7 is a wonderful mind opening section because it can repair your relationship with money almost instantly. And, this alone is worth the price of the book and much more. So let’s dig in…
The Definition of Work
Have you ever stopped for a moment and really considered what “work” is? Is it:
- What you do for a living?
- What consumes you the bulk of your day?
- Something we do not want to do in exchange for money?
- A way to create goods and services
- Love made visible? (As the poet, Kahlil Gibran would suggest)
For most people, “work” is a patchwork of ideas that have been thrust upon us by our family and society.
And though we all define it a bit differently, there is a common theme amongst most of us. It is a familiar formula: WORK = WHAT YOU DO FOR MONEY
The Purpose of Work
Okay, so we’ve loosely defined “work” as something we do for money. But, we also associate other feelings with work as well.
Consider what motivates you to earn money. What’s the purpose of being employed?
Your Money or Your Life outlines several purposes that could hold true:
- Provide for oneself and the family
- Save for the future
- Engage in philanthropy
- Achieve Financial Independence
A Sense of Security
- Ensure that your place at the company is assured
- Ensure that you’ll have benefits
- Carry on a family tradition of following a particular profession
- Fulfill a duty to your family
- Because everyone works
- Do your fair share
- Make a contribution to others, society, and the world
- To “be the change you wish to see in the world,” aligning skills with helping others
- Acquire new skills, grow as a human, become more marketable
- To be stimulated and challenged
- Innovate and create
- Influence other people
- Influence decisions and outcomes
- Assure respect and admiration from those you want to impress
- Achieve success and prominence in your field
- Enjoy connecting with your coworkers
- Interact with other people and feel part of a larger community
- Engage in company wide events and parties
- To structure your time and give an orderly rhythm to your life
A New Way to View Work
Vicki illustrates that “work” can hold contradictory meanings for us all.
So, she offers us a solution by suggesting that “work” is any productive or purposeful activity.
This then allows us to categorize our “work” into meaningful activities.
You may go into an office to earn a paycheck every two weeks, and you may volunteer at your church on the weekends. Both of these activities are “work”, yet they serve different purposes. The first work activity generates your income, and the second work activity provides fulfillment and community.
Breaking the Link Between Work and Wages
As soon as we break the bridge between work and wages, we free ourselves.
We are reminded of our true values and self-worth.
Paid employment is just that. It’s a work activity to earn money. It does not define you and it does not mean that you shy away from meaningful work.
This distinction is HUGE because I’ve been talking about this subtle differentiation on my site for quite a while.
It’s the very reason that I continue to work even after catching FIRE.
And, it should be a wake-up call for all of us as well. When was the last time you asked yourself these questions?
- How many work activities are aligned with your core values in life?
- What ratio of work activities is in line with your core values?
- Which work activities are required to survive? How much of this do you do?
We live in a time when society tells us we MUST find fulfilling work that satisfies us, and pays us well simultaneously. And though it’s possible to find this combination, it’s okay to not have it either.
Without having this expectation to have it all, you can earn a paycheck without compromise and also follow work outside of his activity that resonates with your heart.
There is no guarantee that there is a market to be had by following your heart… so be it!
Step 7: Valuing Your Life Energy – Maximizing Income
Step 7 is about increasing your income by valuing the life energy you invest in your job and exchanging it for the highest pay consistent with your health and integrity.
– Vicki Robin
We also learn that if money = life energy, then increasing your earnings will increase the amount of life available to you.
Again, this is what the FIRE movement is all about. It’s about figuring out what the inflection point is of “what’s enough” to create fulfillment, and generating enough passive income to maintain that indefinitely.
This inflection point is actually much lower than what a lot of people already make. So, why go after more? For some, this could mean scaling back and working for a paycheck just part-time and generating free time for leisure or meaningful work.
And once you begin to realize this formula, it begs the question – how can you use money to create more of it without requiring your own time?
I like to always tell my coaching clients to remember to act like a child.
A child knows how to laugh, play, and use their imagination. I personally believe the best money generated is that which comes from creativity.
So, have fun figuring out new ways to maximize your income, and dream freely with the life energy you will regain back into your life.
I hope you found some useful insights with my review of Chapter 7 of Your Money or Your Life.
You see, there are some universal truths that resonate beyond time. And, Vicki and Joe have written a book which has already stood the test of time.
By redefining the way we view “work”, our lives become a lot easier to comprehend. Work activities can be compartmentalized and we can find comfort knowing their places without having to assume any external presuppositions.
Simply put, we can “work” to win an income, and we can “work” to follow our heart’s desire. Don’t let what you do for an income define who you are (unless you want to!).
Readers, have you read Your Money or Your Life yet? What are some positives and negatives you associate with your “work”? How can changing your perspective shift your associations?