We like to think that money is measurable.
It feels safe to count our dollar bills, and track the balance in our bank account, and budget our future purposes.
But you know what I’ve found in my life?
Money might be measurable, but its “Real Life Exchange Rate” is a lot more FLUID than most of us account for.
Here’s what I mean...
Sometimes, dropping the dough is worth it.
?? Buying a pricey plane ticket, last-minute, so I can surprise a friend on his/her birthday?
?? Paying big-ticket dollars for a classic timepiece that will last me decades?
?? Investing in premium bunny food?
Other times, I feel like a cheapskate.
? Buying almonds at the airport (at 3x their supermarket price)?
? Dropping 7 bucks on a can of Coke at the hotel?
? Paying extra for overnight shipping?
See, we all make decisions every single day about how/when/where we’re going to spend our hard-earned moolah.
And, most of the times, we lean into our frugal side in some areas (I’d never spend that much for that!!!) and we embrace a little bit of luxe in other areas (Call me a diva, but that’s tooootally worth it. ??)
We spend our money in ways that reflect our values, and that’s awesome.
But here’s where I see a disconnect.
When people are SPENDING money, they make their decisions based on perceived value. For example, you might drop $7 on a superfood smoothie, but not spend the same $7 on Spotify Premium (for someone who prioritises eating clean).
But when people are EARNING money, they treat all dollars as equals. ?
“I’ll accept this $100 freelance project whether it’s contracted by an inspiring, kind client or a toxic, controlling client.”
“I’ll stay in this $60K/year job whether I’m managed by a supportive, empowering boss or a demanding, abusive boss.”
“I’ll take on this rush assignment whether I have margin in my schedule or not.”
When we treat all income as equal, we disregard the most important costs of all.
? Dealing with a month of stress as you complete a high-pressure project with a tight deadline.
? Saying no to family events so you can put in the time on a new committee.
? Suffering emotional trauma from staying in a toxic work environment.
? Giving up your gym time to take on paid overtime.
And when you add up those costs, certain types of income no longer seem as profitable.
What is that big fat bonus check REALLY worth (if it costs you intimacy with your partner)?
What is that client partnership REALLY worth (if it costs you months of stress, anxiety, and fear)?
What is that promotion REALLY worth (if it costs you your relaxing weekends at the beach or at home)?
So, I challenge you to run your financial decisions through
“The Real Life Exchange Rate.”
Instead of making decisions based on your bank account alone, start considering the ways that different income opportunities would affect every area of your life.
Here are the questions I use to evaluate income-related decisions (and keep my businesses from sabotaging my happiness!):
Will this income opportunity incur a relationship cost?
Will this income opportunity incur a freedom cost?
Will this income opportunity incur a peace-of-mind cost?
Will this income opportunity incur a health cost?
When I add up these more-important-than-anything “life costs,” I’m able to make a more informed, realistic, well-rounded decision.
It’s not just about the money anymore.
It’s about being able to get drinks with friends on a Thursday night, or block off a long weekend for a Thinking Retreat, or not be so stressed out that I quit having daily dance parties. ?
I’m able to see if each project, job, opportunity, JV partnership, or launch will be TRULY profitable (and not just FINANCIALLY profitable).
Once an income opportunity makes it all the way through “The Real Life Exchange Rate” filter, it’s gotta pass one more test…
The Currency Test.
Here’s the deal. I need to get paid in my bank’s currency (#dolladollabills), cuz that’s how I fuel my material life: rent, travel, concert tickets, Nespresso capsules, bunny snacks, etc.
But, at the end of my life, I want more than a big fat bank account.
More than anything, I want to leave a legacy of happiness. I want to help thousands of people, all over the world, find true happiness in their work and their lives.
So, it’s not enough for my work to create piles of cash. I also want my work to fuel my legacy.
And that means that whenever I’m approached with an idea for a new partnership, new project, new speaking gig, or new product, I have to ask myself if it will create an output of my most important currency…
Now, I get it. Bills need to be paid. ? Clothes need to be purchased. ? Snacks need to be eaten.
And, at this point in your journey, your income opportunities might not check all the boxes yet.
You might have to say yes to jobs and gigs that create stress, or take you away from your family for one night per week, or make you feel like a cog in a machine (and not a purveyor of powerful impact).
And that’s okay. Your financial life is ever-evolving, just like every other area of your life.
But, start taking baby bunny hops towards financial alignment. ?
Start asking yourself if that biz relationship is worth the tax on your self-worth.
Start asking yourself if that shiny new project is worth the drain on your mental health and wellbeing.
Start asking yourself if you’re willing to keep sacrificing joy for that “next level up” in your job.
Start asking yourself if your daily career actions are fuelling or compromising your life’s currency (read: your legacy).
If these questions make you feel light years away from financial alignment, I want to encourage you.
Never underestimate the power of awareness.
Asking these questions (and answering them honestly) is a really powerful first step. It means that you’re willing to get real, be intentional, and stop numbing out.
Soon, you’ll start to find small ways to live in financial alignment, like: setting client boundaries that protect your energy or taking a vacation day for personal self-care.
And that awareness and momentum will continue to build…
...one step at a time.
Here’s to building a bank account AND building a “life account.”
“Best thing since Katong Laksa!”
- Dan's Grandma
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