Everything Has A Cost
It makes sense to set a budget for your finances, right? It’s simple really, reconcile what you earn with what you spend. If you spend too much, then adjustments are necessary. If you want to spend more money than is budgeted in one area, then you must decide to take money from another area.
Shopping is easy as well. All the products sit nicely on the shelves and have price tags displayed so you know what it will take to purchase them. You know exactly the cost to own an item. That’s simple and straightforward.
It’s too bad life is not like that. Money is a valuable resource; however, it’s only a small part of the equation. It takes a myriad of resources to successfully navigate life such as time, energy, and integrity. Every choice has a cost associated with it, we’re just generally horrible at assessing those costs.
Why don’t we budget our energy or time like we do our money? Wouldn’t it be nice to see the cost of our decisions neatly displayed in all facets of life, like the price tag on a new shirt at the store? Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could see how much energy it would take to pursue an activity and how much energy that would leave in our budgets for the rest of the day or week? How about knowing exactly how much time a task will take and how it might deplete our time budget? Alas, we are horrible at managing our energy and time and all the other costs associated with life, but why?
I believe there are three reasons why we fail to manage our energy and time properly:
- Self-awareness. We are comparative by nature. Keeping up with our neighbors is a very real and dangerous thing. What we perceive becomes reality. If we think our family, friends, or colleagues are achieving something more valuable and satisfying than us, then we pursue it as well, not considering all the other variables. I struggled with this early in my marriage to Alia. I tried to keep up with my friends that were single or other couples that were in a different phase of life. I tried to duplicate my parent’s lifestyle, not realizing it took them a lifetime to build. Are you making bad decisions because you are trying to keep up with everyone else around you?
- Focus. We try to do too much and jam pack our days with way too much stuff. By doing this we underestimate the amount of time it will take to do something properly, so we can fit more stuff into our days. We fail to focus our efforts and streamline our expectations. Why do three things today when we can try and complete six things instead? This is dangerous thinking and will lead to exhaustion and frustration.
- Planning. Most people simply don’t plan. It’s easier to just start doing things and completing tasks without taking the time to figure out the best path forward.
So how do we fix it? How do we get our lives back and discover normalcy and not be so overwhelmed all the time? I propose three suggestions for consideration:
- Embrace your story. Learn to appreciate your season of life. Gain a full understanding of who you are and what you can do at this stage of your life. Identify your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses. Give yourself some breathing room and grace. Instead of comparing yourself to others, compare yourself to your own past. Are you better off today than the same time last year? Are you healthier? Happier? Richer? More at peace? Discover where you feel pain and frustration in your life and ask yourself, why? Is it because you are comparing yourself to the wrong benchmarks?
- Trim your life. It’s time to focus and learn to say “no” to everything that keeps you from your goals. Pick one major goal each year that you strongly desire to accomplish and focus on activities that will help you achieve that goal. Everything else becomes secondary. Be prepared to drop some of those secondary goals, if they interfere with your primary goal. It’s okay to have multiple goals, but you can only have one primary goal, the most important goal.
- Reflect and adjust. Build a plan and reflect on that plan regularly. Be prepared to adjust that plan often. I once read that as soon as a rocket is launched into space it veers off course and must make course corrections thousands of times during flight to stay on track. Our lives are no different. We must make multiple course corrections throughout the year, the month, the week and even in one day to stay on track. Don’t be rigid with your plan and allow your spirit to be flexible as variables change.
We can only pay so much in exchange for success. All success comes with a price tag; the key is to fully understand the cost and aligning your life so you can pay the price and be at peace with your decisions. Are you willing to pay the price of success? Do you even know what the price is for your current path?