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:

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.