Success on Your Own Terms: Time, Money, Camels and the Necessity of a Microwave
- Careers, Money and Time-Management
By Barry Maher
Mary Ann Halpin and her husband Joe Croyle used to
run a photo studio in downtown L.A., working 10 hours a
day, six days a week. Even so, the overhead was so high,
it was a constant struggle to pay the rent. Nowadays they
work out of their home, 4 days a week, and spend the rest
of their time relaxing and enjoying life.
"People are always saying to me, 'You're so lucky,'"
Halpin told home office experts Paul and Sarah Edwards.
'But it has nothing to do with luck. It's figuring out
what you value, what makes you happy and what brings you
peace, and then slowing down your life enough . . . to
make the changes you need.'
What you chose to spend your money on is your own
business. But perhaps you should evaluate potential
purchases in terms of the hours out of your life it takes
to get them. Because that's what everything you buy
actually costs: hours out of your life. According to Money
magazine, in average wages, in 1916 it took 3,162 hours of
work to earn a refrigerator. Today it takes 68.
Refrigerators have gotten a lot cheaper. Of course a year
of public college tuition has gone from 160 hours in 1966
to 260; and a year at a private college has increased from
537 hours to 1,295.
Tactic: Figure out what you net for an hour's work.
Then figure out how many hours that new suit or blouse or
SUV would cost you. If you get that much enjoyment out of
it, great. If not, maybe you'd rather have the hours
instead. And maybe you can find a way to get those hours
back: either now or a few years down the road. Thanks to
the wonder of compounding, a penny saved can soon be a lot
more than a penny earned. What's the secret of The
Millionaire Next Door? According to the authors of that
book, it's lifestyle. Not self denial, just not wasting
money any more than you should waste time.
The average family has gotten smaller in the last 50
years but the average new home has doubled in size. And
it's filled with a lot more stuff.
Tip: We keep hearing that time is money. Time is far
more than money. 'It's more valuable than platinum and
more perishable than a sunset,' is the flowery way a
former professor of mine used to put it. But the money we
spend is--in a very real sense--time. And that money, as
Emerson noted, is often far too expensive.
In our society, luxuries quickly turn themselves
into necessities, wants into needs. We rail against
materialism to our children at the same time that we teach
them that shopping--buying for the sake of buying--is a
hobby, a leisure pursuit.
In a recent study, 71 percent of Americans saw TV as
a necessity in their lives, 40 percent thought microwaves
were, over 25 percent listed answering machines, TV remote
control, VCRs, computers and basic cable TV. About one in
six said a second TV was a necessity. These people were
serious. The more affluent among us of course are the most
needy, most likely to have the most clutter crammed into
the necessity level of their hierarchy of needs. For
example, 56 percent of those making over $50,000 per year
believed they couldn't survive without credit cards.
A much better book than any I've written is the
source of the observation that it's easier for a camel to
pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to
enter the kingdom of Heaven. Of course, it didn't say it
couldn't be done. We're an extremely wealthy country.
Still, maybe too many of us spend too much of our time
trying to cram some really big camels through some very
Oscar winner Rod Steiger said that to him success
meant having control over the time in his life. 'A
shoemaker who owns his own shop and gets up one morning
and says, I'm not working--that's a successful guy.'
# # #
Barry Maher is a leading speaker, writer and consultant, providing 'real
tactics and reality based motivation' for increasing personal productivity
AND job satisfaction. This article is adapted from, 'Filling the Glass: The
Skeptic's Guide to Positive Thinking in Business' which Today's Librarian
honored as '[One of] The Seven Essential Popular Business Books.' Sign
up for his free email newsletter at
www.barrymaher.com or contact him at
Copyright 2004, Barry Maher. Used by permission.