I’m on a flight right now, about to touch down on Mahe Island (in the Seychelles, off the coast of Africa). The freedom to travel is one of the things I really value most in my life. I remember one of the biggest takeaways I got from reading the 4 Hour Workweek years ago was the concept of being “rich” in other ways besides just having a lot of money – essentially, figuring out what your personal currency is, and basing your success on how much of that currency you have flowing through your life.
When I say currency, I mean – what do you REALLY value? Do you value having a lot of cash just to have it? Maybe you do, and that’s ok, but do you ever have that gnawing feeling that no amount of money will ever be enough if your day-to-day life isn’t filled with things you truly VALUE?
For me, I can say with certainty that 3 of my personal currencies are FREEDOM, EXPERIENCES and EXCITEMENT. When I was working at a 9-5 job, I had a steady paycheck coming in and I could more than cover all of my expenses. But what I didn’t have was freedom – I was working on someone else’s schedule, doing work that didn’t directly benefit me or anything I cared about. If I wanted to travel or take time off I had to request it and get it approved. I had to say “no” to plenty of potential experiences because I needed to be at the office.
Even after I negotiated with my company to give me Fridays off to work from home, that almost made it worse because I had a false sense of freedom. Yes, I could make eggs and do laundry while I was on the clock, but I still had to be accountable to answering emails, answering my phone, and making sure those damn PowerPoint presentations got sent to the client on time and that the ads were delivering on schedule. It didn’t excite me, and I realized I have very little patience for feeling mediocre about things.
When I decided to leave all of that behind and pursue something more entrepreneurial, I knew I would be giving up the steady money that I so relied on every 2 weeks. But I also knew there was something I valued way more than that — freedom and being able to experience more of life instead of sitting at a desk wanting to poke my eyes out. I also knew that the possibilities to make even more money were greater because there would be no ceiling, and the possibilities for excitement, well, I couldn’t even imagine back then what my life would look like now.
Read – How I Got Started Blogging As A Business
One concept/book that really touches upon this is called A Year To Live by Stephen Levine. I will admit that I haven’t read the whole book, but the premise of it really changed things for me. I was sitting on a blanket in the park one weekend with my friend Sydney and she was reading the book. She said to me…
“Jenny, if you only had a year to live, what would you be doing?”
I quit my job that week. Because in reality, we don’t know how long we have to live, and I wanted to fill up my life with what I really value.
The value and personal currency concept has come up a lot for me as an entrepreneur, too, and sometimes it’s more difficult to navigate now because everything that comes my way in the world of health, wellness and personal development is at least SOMEWHAT exciting. A couple of years ago I got a book deal to write about a topic that I knew a lot about, but wasn’t particularly excited to write. I knew I could do it, and the money would be very helpful, so I signed the book contract. But the actual experience of it didn’t light me up. I realized that in my work (and in my life) excitement is actually a pretty important form of currency for me. If I’m EXCITED about the work that I’m doing, I honestly rarely care that much about how much I’m getting paid for it. But I remember sitting in San Diego one day with my friend Kirk telling him about the book deal. I was like “it’s fine, but I’m just not that excited about writing it.” He said to me, “Jenny, the money will never be enough.” I sat with those words for awhile and then, after a lot of back and forth in my head, I canceled the book contract. It was true, the money would never be enough if it didn’t line up with what I actually valued as currency.
Saying “no” to things that aren’t aligned with my true, most valued forms of currency feels SO good. I’m gonna write a whole blog post on how much I love saying no, because saying no to things that aren’t aligned creates more space for the best stuff ever to flow into your life – trust me on that.
So, freedom, experiences, excitement. Those are 3 things that I value as currency, and I consider myself very wealthy when I assess my life based on those currencies. I think Tim says something in his book like “you don’t have to be a millionaire to live like one.” And I agree, because it depends on what you really, truly, deep down value as currency. I don’t have a million dollars in the bank (not even close) but I feel like a millionaire right now because my life is rich with freedom, rich with experience, rich with excitement.
I’m not saying we don’t need money or that I don’t want money, exactly the opposite, money is an awesome form of energy that comes to me when I put energy out into the world in the form of my work. And I truly believe that the more energy we put out that serves the world, the more financial abundance will come in return. So money is absolutely an important form of currency to me, it just isn’t THE only currency I base my success on, especially if the other forms of currency I mentioned aren’t being taken care of. Knowing my most important forms of currency help me to recalibrate my life in order to prioritize those things. I prioritize travel, and I spend a good amount of my money on travel, but I don’t do it extravagantly and I don’t spend money on a ton of other stuff. Yes, you can travel on the cheap (read The Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking here).
This is all just food for thought – the point is to help you begin to recalibrate your life so it’s more in line with YOUR personal forms of currency. It will look different for everyone. And everyone does have their own unique situation. Maybe you have a family to support or other situations that make huge life changes more challenging – even so, you can still get clear on what you really value and put more of an emphasis on those things, even in some small way. You can start to re-balance the scales, because I guarantee you, no matter how much money you have, you’ll start to feel wealthier when your life lines up with your most valued forms of currency.
What are your personal forms of currency? What do you REALLY value? Let me know in the comments.
Oh, BTW, I just realized this is the 31st blog in my January blogging challenge. WHAT!! It happened. And that’s awesome. Thanks for reading along the way, you make it worth it. :)