Two years ago, I had a mental struggle. That well known cliché, “Time = Money” was stuck in my mind. I was struggling with it because I had gone through a three month transition, and I realized the cliche was incorrect. I left the US to be with my family in Barbados, and I was no longer making $50,000USD per year. My salary was now zero. In October of 2018, I left the US, my job, my friends, and the country I thought I would call home, to return to Barbados to be the world’s best uncle. That is where my planning ended. I needed to save money, cancel my H1B visa, reconnect with my family before I missed the opportunity.
One night I started to scribble in my notebook; Time = Money. Time + Energy = Money. This was where I realized money can’t be the goal of the equation and the value of time. This went on for four or five more nights. Each night, I was trying to understand why I left the US and returned to Barbados. Did I do the right thing? How do I find mental calm? As I tried to figure out this equation, I was putting my degree in Economics to good use. Especially, since I had been working in the field of social work upon leaving university.
Finally, this epiphany scribble across the page: Time + Energy + Money = Purpose. It gave me such clarity. We all have a limited supply of these resources, and we have the freedom to spend and adjust them how we desire. Note though, this isn’t a 1+2+3=6 equation. It is more metaphorical and shows how we adjust where we spend our resources as we move towards our purpose like I discussed in my article, “Find Purpose In Your Life Using This Simple Equation”.
The scariest of all resources and the one that is the most valuable. We all want to spend our time on our passions or things that have great meaning to us, but at times we find ourselves feeling stuck. Because we are spending time on things we have to do rather than things we want to do. It is imperative to understand why we are doing what we are doing, to ascertain how it moves us towards our purpose.
Simply put, this is what we do. How we invest our mental, physical, and spiritual energy is a choice we all battle with daily and are often uncertain if we are doing the correct thing. Here’s the thing, none of us know what we are doing, we are trying our best every day. We may want to project confidence, but relax knowing we are all in the same boat. All of our energy investment may not be perfect, but we can honestly evaluate and improve our actions daily.
We know money. It is the means of exchange we use to buy goods and services. From a young age though, we are told that money is the aim of life and it is to be chased at all costs. We go to school at five and we are told it is to get a job so we can make money. Money is a wonderful tool, but it is only a tool and a PART of the equation, not the goal.
This is what we want to become. At the end of investing my time, energy, and money, what do I want to be at the end of that process? Do I want to be wealthy, a great parent, a professional athlete, live a contented life? It can be anything. I often refer to purpose as “following your bliss”, a topic I will cover in my next article. It is your purpose and you get to decide, but there are always trade-offs between adjusting the allotment of time, energy, and money.
Now, we can apply how to adjust the equation towards your purpose. Firstly though, I want to remind you that we are always adjusting our personal equation. It is an exercise in futility to compare our resources to others. Do the best you can, with what you have, where you are. Secondly, your purpose can change at any moment, and that is your choice! It is not a failure or something to feel guilty about. When your purpose changes, you are free to adjust your resources as well.
READ MORE: Dealing with your Mom Guilt
To tie it all together I will give two examples.
Your purpose is to make lots of money to live a comfortable life.
As a result, your equation would be spending lots of time and energy at work, to be able to make more money to go towards your purpose of becoming wealthy
You have a baby on the way, and your purpose to spend lots of time with them.
As a result, you want to spend more time at home, this may lead to less money, BUT you decided that your purpose has changed from wealth to family, so it is okay to make less money. In this one, energy probably may not increase or decrease, since babies take a lot of energy as well. Your purpose here is to become a great parent. (Not to say only great parents spend time at home. Remember, it is your equation and you can allocate however you want for yourself. There is no comparison or right or wrong)
To circle back to how I started the article, I decided to spend my time and energy in Barbados, while making no money, to spend more time with my family, and become a good uncle.
For further clarity on this article, my TEDx talk What now? What next? covers this concept.
Born in Barbados, Marlo Clarke played for the national rugby team until he moved to Iowa in 2012 to become a Youth Program Director. After seven wonderful years, Marlo moved to Europe for a year to travel and craft his TEDx talks “How was your day today?” and “What now? What next?” Currently, he is a global public speaker, teacher, and writer.
“I don’t always have the right answers, but I eventually find the right questions!