Monday, November 29, 2010

The "Currency" of my Life

"I live to climb rocks," I overheard a guy in Moab, UT say not too long ago. He said that he scheduled everything else in his life around his climbing time. I had been thinking about trade-offs, and that rock climber gave me a good way to frame my own question: "What do I live for?"

I think of it as a "currency" of life. My current thinking about work, retirement and sabbaticals seems to boil down to this one question: "What do I value as currency in my life?"

In contrast to when I had a corporate job with a fixed daily schedule and a steady salary, I seem to be making a lot more trade-offs nowadays. Should I opt to hold on to my free time over earning some extra income (freelance)? Should I choose to do something by myself (spending effort) versus spending money?

I made one rule to the currency question. It can't be a specific goal. It is not something that we achieve. So things like getting a particular promotion or title, passing an exam, or reaching a certain net-worth number don't count as life currency. (All of these are enablers.) It should be things that we want to do over and over again, taking joy in it each time.

That rock climber clearly knows his currency – it is rock climbing. Similarly there are a number of hobbyists who are essentially biding time until they can get back to their hobbies.

Unlike him, I don't seem to have one overarching activity, but the answer is some combination of things I never tire of. (I am leaving out universal things like spending quality time with friends and family.)

In my case, it is having the freedom (time autonomy) to choose pleasurable activities. I live to read books, to watch movies, to watch non-fiction DVDs, to listen to slide presentations and to attend lectures by smart thinkers. Also, I live to watch Ted talks.

I used to live to visit new places but that ardor has dimmed for some reason. So I guess the currency of our lives can evolve over time.

So, what's your currency? I was curious if readers have their own way of thinking about these all-important trade-offs decisions.

No comments: