Your life is like a bank account. You have things that are coming in (revenues) like achieving a goal, holding on to your values, doing something that you want to do and that gives you pleasure. You also have things going out (expenses and costs) like foregoing an occasion because of another obligation or priority, eating unhealthy foods, or possibly not achieving a goal.
I feel like the whole idea of life is to maximize your “life profits”. Right? Because if we continually pay out costs and get nothing back in return, just like a business, you would fail. This is a largely utilitarian view of life, so, whether or not you ascribe to this utilitarian view, I feel that there are takeaways for everyone and any belief system. I’m sure I’m not the first person to come up with the idea of a “Life Account”, but I’m going to try and explain in a little more detail what my concept is and how to maximize your life profits.
For me, my values and goals that provide life income (and losses) include things like:
- Getting stronger…$2
- Spending time with my family and friends…$3
- Being happy…$4
- Eating unhealthy…($5)
All of these things are line items in my income statement and they all have different values, I ascribe different “monetary” values to these things to demonstrate how to balance your Lift Account. The things on this list aren’t treated equally and therefore provide different revenues. I’ve assessed these values and goals and given them monetary values according to their importance in my life. The actual numbers I chose are fairly arbitrary, but the differences in values are representative to my beliefs and help to understand my point. This has to be done carefully and as objectively as you can. Because this is where the accounting can get tricky and your priorities can potentially fall out of line.
Now we have our revenues associated with our different goals and values. So, picture this scenario. (This one is particularly relevant to me). It’s a lifting day, you’ve planned your day after work to be in the gym, when someone asks you to hang out after work. What do you do?
Well, simple math would tell you that you should go spend time with your friends because it gives you more money. But it’s not this simple – because sure, $3 is more than $2. But really you are foregoing the gym for your friends. So you’re gaining $3 in revenue and $2 in costs (not going to the gym) giving you a profit of $1. So sure, this means that you should still go be with your friend because if you didn’t, then the numbers would flip and you would have a loss of $1.
However you can’t always choose what makes you more money now. Because if getting stronger is a priority, yet you always choose your friends and family, you can actually begin to see losses. Costs will multiply over time, that $2 begins to inflate due to neglect, and now your goal of getting stronger and healthier may have an actual value of $4 because you’re in even worse shape than you were before. The reverse situation is also true. Because if you always choose to go to the gym, then you’re losing money every time you skip out on spending time with those you love, and that loss will become greater and greater, making it harder and harder for you to get out of your “financial hole”.
Life is made up of an 80 year long list of choices and sacrifices. It’s is a long term investment. You can take a temporary loss knowing that you have some money in the bank and have calculated the associated risks, but you must also make sure that you’re not fudging the numbers. Be honest with yourself and your assessment of the values that certain things in your life have. Some things in life naturally provide you with more money to “spend”, so if you feel like you’re pressured to hang out with other people and forego the gym, invest in the gym heavily the next week in order to make up for the losses on that line item because you know that you’ve been saving.
Whether you think about it in accounting terms or not, it’s extremely important to carefully assess all of the things that you do in your life. Because it’s not really a matter of one thing in your life being better than the other, or that one “makes you more money”, it’s about the choices you make that satisfy yourself, and that bring you closer to reaching your goals and living the happiest, healthiest life you can.