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Investing in Time Instead of Money

Today, I want to talk about two things:

  1. A big decision my wife and I made.
  2. Why I feel that people should invest more in themselves – their skills and abilities – instead of just financial investments.

So my wife and I are taking a leap. This week, she handed in her letter of resignation at the wonderful teaching job she has had for the past six years. Why? To spend all of her time and attention on raising our son, and working on her art. (Here is her art in case you are interested: SarahBlankStudios.com)

Time Vs Money

There are very real implications here, notably, the financial stuff. She gives up a wonderful job at a decent salary, with incredible benefits and lots of time off. We recently heard about a job position like hers opening up elsewhere in the state, and they received 1,000 applicants for the position. So yes, it feels weird to choose to give that up.

And there is the not-so-small fact that buying private health insurance is going to cost us in the neighborhood of $1,500 per month, and that does not include the deductibles we have to pay or higher co-pays. Less income, higher expenses.

But I am thinking of all of this as an investment in three things:

  1. My own time. With my wife home, we can stop juggling the dozens of things each day of two working parents with a young son and a young business. I can fully focus on building We Grow Media, on becoming better at what I do, and on serving clients and students. I love what I do for a living; I LOVE working with writers; I LOVE working with publishers; I have an unending stream of energy for this.
  2. My wife’s time. She has always been an artist, and has built a small following via her blog and Etsy store. Now, she can truly focus on her art, and on growing the business related to it. Will she make-up her old salary anytime soon? Nope. Will she potentially have a thriving art career in 5 or 10 years? Yes. And that is a life worth living – a risk worth taking.
  3. Time with our son. With my wife at home, and me working from home, that means that we are both around to raise our son, and to find countless family moments each day, each week, each month, each year. I know that is a luxury that is very rare in our culture. We have saved and saved and saved for the past 10 years, in order to take this leap.

Even with the financial risk, this decision feels empowering. To choose the life we want to live, instead of basing our decisions on the seemingly “safe” route – and money alone.

We have all heard the story of the wealthy man on his deathbed, whose dying regret is that he wished he spent more time with his children, instead of at the office. That is what I am keeping in mind. That money comes and goes, time is all we have.

Investing in People Instead of Things

There is something I don’t understand about investment as it is discussed in the media, especially in light of the recession. Our culture often has an unhealthy relationship with the idea of “investing.” We view it mostly with regards to money – that we invest $10 and hope to get back $15. But what about value beyond dollars and cents? What about investing in ourselves?

I am not investing in the stock market, or real estate or anything else that is a “thing.” I am investing in having the time to grow my skills and abilities. I am investing in people – in growing my relationships with others. I am focusing on the value of TIME, not just the value of MONEY. To use that time to grow my skills, to serve clients, to become better at what I do. Things that can exponentially repay themselves over the course of a lifetime, instead of a stock that may rise 12% next quarter.

This is also why training and education are such a big part of We Grow Media – I believe so strongly in the idea of investing in our own possibilities.

The Nature of Freedom

I am giving up all of the security that seems standardized in our culture. We rent an apartment instead of owning a home. I started a business after leaving my corporate job of 10 years. My wife is leaving her very stable and wonderful job. We had our first child less than a year ago. As my brother said: this all defies logic, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t the right decision.

The truth is, I have never felt more free. I have never felt more confident. I have never felt less scared.

Freedom is not about what you own, but how you live and the options you have. And, the more you own, typically, the fewer options you have. The financial cost of purchasing and upkeeping our possessions often provides less freedom. You spend time not just paying off the stuff, but dusting it, maintaining it, upgrading it.

Getting Better at Serving Others

EVERYTHING I am describing here is about how I can have the time to become better at serving the needs of others. How I can devote more time to my clients and students; how I can spend more time studying and researching new tools that will empower them; how I can devote more time to personal and professional relationships; how I can be more mindful of those around me.

The first year of my business has been incredible, and it has been ENTIRELY due to the generosity of those around me. I have been unbelievably lucky, and want to do everything possible to help others – to return the favor – and to be kind-hearted at every possible step of the process. This isn’t about “fighting to grow my business,” this is about giving as much as I can, because others have already given me so much.

There are many reasons that went into the decisions my wife and I have made recently, but it is all best encapsulated in a Tom Robbins quote a friend recently shared:

“Should you fail to pilot your own ship, don’t be surprised at what inappropriate port you find yourself docked.”

So thank you to the many people who have shared in this journey so far, and made it all possible. I am looking forward to going down the next path through the wilderness together.

Thanks!
-Dan

  • http://twitter.com/egervase egervase

    Dan.  Good stuff man.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the value of time with family, friends and my life “passions” lately.  Congrats on taking the plunge… I’m sure that wasn’t an easy thing.  It sounds like you are doing it for all the right reasons. 

    Based on this post… thought you might enjoy this blog.  I’ve been taking on some of the ideas. But, frankly, it’s a little too extreme for me.  Their head/heart seems to be in the right place though. http://www.theminimalists.com/

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com Dan Blank

      Thank you! The blog looks interesting too… I’ll be checking it out. 
      Have a great day.

  • http://twitter.com/dgeorge Devon Angelpreneur

    People need to think more about the value of the self sometimes, at least when looking at their life as a whole.  The person, such as you and your wife, who undertake such a lifestyle change should see happier, more creative/productive, times ahead. 

    I would venture a warning on everybody who thinks this lifestyle is an easy step or a light decision.  Do the math and make sure you wont be struggling to feed you children.  While this is a rewarding path it is also one not to be taken lightly.

    Keep up the good posting/work Dan.

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com Dan Blank

      Thank you Devon for the thoughts here. Very much appreciated!

  • Ilenesilver

    You’re my hero, Dan. I would like to follow you example one day, except that I am so all over the place!

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com Dan Blank

      Thanks Ilene. Good to hear from you!

  • http://profiles.google.com/kpooler63 kathleen pooler

    Congratulations Dan and Sarah for your brave and empowering decision. You know that saying” Good luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” You have obviously prepared for this moment and I sense the best is yet to come for you and your family.You will never have to look back and wish you spent more time with your family~priceless. Enjoy the ride!

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com Dan Blank

      Thank you Kathy!!!

  • http://about.me/anastasia.ashman Anastasia

    Fantastic, Dan, I’m excited for you three — and the rest of us on similar journeys.

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com Dan Blank

      Thank you so much! 

  • http://twitter.com/CarlaMariaSmith Carla Smith

    Dan. Love Tom Robbins. His thoughts on being the director of your own ‘film’ and his take on individuality are worth re-reading. Staying home with your kids IS money in the bank. It’s a one time around sort of thing and believe me, from the other end, I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Stuff, despite gov’t wanting us to get out and buy, buy, buy to buoy the economy is not what matters. 
    But be careful. Once you step off the treadmill it’s a wild, wooly, scary and exhilirating ride. But at least you are in the driver’s seat. Congrats on your decision. 

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com Dan Blank

      Thank you Carla, very much appreciated. “Wild, wooly, scary and exhilarating.” Sounds like fun! :)

  • Anonymous

    Well done Dan, best of luck to all three of you. I think I agree with the link between possessions and freedom (or lack of). I’ve never regretted leaving the corporate ‘life’ and in retrospect I can see how in many ways it was no life for me, compared to now. Thanks for sharing, and for inspiring others.
    Robin

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com Dan Blank

      Thank you Robin! I always love hearing about the experiences others have had down this path. Nice to hear how happy it has made you. 

  • Vince

    Wish you and Sarah well, Dan. Thanks for sharing your passion and ideas, as always.

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com Dan Blank

      Thank you Vince!

  • http://artistsroad.wordpress.com/ Patrick Ross

    “The truth is, I have never felt more free. I have never felt more confident. I have never felt less scared.”

    This is fantastic, Dan. At the beginning of the year I left a stable, well-paying job to entrepreneur my own path. My friends assume my stress levels must be through the roof, but I believe stress decreases when you have control in life, and when you control your life you can address uncertainties.

    Kudos to you and your wife for taking this important step as a team. It sounds like you truly support each other (in all meanings of that word) and your son will be better off for it.

    Patrick

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com Dan Blank

      Thank you so much Patrick. Congrats on your own journey too!
      -Dan

  • Anonymous

    *Brilliant*

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com Dan Blank

      Thank you!

  • Dforest

    A friend forwarded this to me. You and your wife are the most self-centered, crazy people I’ve run across. I hope your child enjoys the fact that both his parents are helping raise him when the entire family is destitute because his mom gave up a great job that anyone in the country would give a right arm to have amidst the worst recession since 1930.

    “The truth is, I have never felt more free. I have never felt more confident. I have never felt less scared.”

    I, I, I. Think about your family you dolt.

    Your wife can have pushed her love of art and side business forward while supporting her out of work husband and child. When you have a small child you take the safe route.

    • Brian H

      If Dan and his wife are the “most self-centered, crazy people [you've] run across” then I suspect that you don’t get out of the house much. Obviously you make some quick rationalizations according to your own pre-existing mental grid (i.e., you can only “see” what you perceive to be right way of doing something) that fails miserably to “see” the whole picture. What Dan describes in this post is possible; and he makes it very clear that they’ve prepared for this moment for a long time. And obviously he states that his business has flourished in its inception so I think to label them as “destitute” is amiss.

      My wife is a stay-at-home mom of two beautiful daughters under the age of four. I am the entrepreneur of multiple businesses (and author-in-the-making) that allows me to work from my own home office. It is definitely hard as nails at times (and I certainly don’t enjoy paying $1050 out of my pocket monthly for health insurance with Blue Cross Blue Shield). But I wouldn’t exchange it for my neighbors’ “security” of commuting into DC (some have their kids in daycare for 10-12 hours a day; whereas my wife and I are able to provide a stable environment for our two girls to enjoy both their parents). That alone is worth the “risk”.

         

  • http://twitter.com/MEAndersFit M.E. Anders

    Beautifully written post which delineates the benefits of Voluntary Simplicity.  Your journey seems to mirror my own – I also gave up a blossoming Fitness Director Career to focus on my art:  writing fiction.  My hubby and I downsized.  We cut the budget.  We sacrificed.  The rewards are greater than I ever could have anticipated.

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com Dan Blank

      Wow – thank you so much! Love hearing stories like that.

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  • Lifes2shortto

    Absolutely!
    Good for you guys – it’s a decision, I’m sure, none of you will ever regret.
    We have certainly never had a single second thought about our big life change.
    I always say pretty much the same thing you mentioned: No one ever lies on their death bed wishing they’d spent more time at work (www.lifestooshortto.com).
    Nicky.

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com Dan Blank

      Thanks Nicky!