This is part 2 in the 2-part post regarding the fulfillment curve. If you missed it, you can read part 1 here.
If Money Were No Object
When career counselors are meeting with their clients, they often ask a question to the effect of “if money were no object, what would you choose to do for a living”? The purpose of this question is pretty simple; they want the person to take money out of the equation in looking for the perfect job. The theory goes that you should do something you love first, and worry about the financial aspect later, which I happen to agree with.
But what if we asked that question of ourselves at a deeper level? What would you do with you life if you never had to work for money again? What would you do with yourself if you had 14+ hours of time available to you– every day? Stew on that question for a moment before you continue reading… it’s not as easy to sort out as you might think.
What Really Matters To You
Some of you will say “I’d watch soap operas every day”. Some will say “whatever I feel like I wanna do, gosh”! But most of us will start to dream up things that are bigger than our every-day routine. Expeditions. Adventures. Causes. Dreams. Experiences. Areas of life that have less to do with money and more to do with efforts we might make outside of our personal situations. They are the ways that people are remembered. They are efforts that make an impact, both on us and our society.
Thinking through this question from a “10,000 foot view” can provide a lot of insight into what really makes us tick. What would you be willing and able to spend chunks of your valuable time on (time being the one resource we each have that we can never produce more of) even if there were no financial incentive to do so.
When You Look Back On Your Life
At the end of our lives we each will have lived through, on average, a whopping 674,968 hours of time. (I’m sure you’re thinking “if I had a dollar for every hour…”, but stay with me here.) When you think about how you spent that time, what will you wish you had done differently? If you’ve never thought about this, it may help to ask your grandparents what they might say to that question. Priorities change as each of us goes through life, and this is a question that we need to revisit often in order to maintain perspective on what’s important to us.
A lot of the responses I hear and read are, in some way, related to family or other close relationships. And many of those involve regrets over how we spent our time with them. Some people wish they had “given back” more than they did, or invested themselves more heavily in something they believed in. They wish they had shared wisdom or written a book. Or they simply wish they had shown more initiative.
Whatever the response, it’s rare that you hear someone say “I wish I’d bought a ____”.
Back To The Fulfillment Curve
These are pretty deep questions to think through, but the reason I pose them is for you to be able to see how they can affect the fulfillment curve. See, as the fulfillment curve begins to head down instead of up, it’s because our purchasing habits are all about ourselves. We target the bigger and nicer and more luxurious in order to satisfy the programming that we’ve long been operating by, not knowing that the programming has to change.
The way for our fulfillment curve to begin to rise again is to give back, or “participate” in the world around us. There is more to life than earning, spending, and acquiring. We have to learn what’s out there beyond “buying stuff” that really matters, that brings us fulfillment, and leave our self-seeking spending habits behind. Notice on the graph that this is not a smooth transition, but takes time, attention, and practice to begin living this way.
And keep in mind that this second “rise” of the fulfillment curve can only be started by understanding what enough is for you. Only then can you provide the time you will need in order to chase larger, longer-lasting, more fulfilling dreams.
NOTE: The concept of the fulfillment curve comes from the book “Your Money Or Your Life“, which I highly recommend reading. It changed the way this pilgrim looked at and handled money, and I love the new mindset that the fulfillment curve concept gave me. Also note that the book’s description of this graph is much heavier on environmental issues, just so you’re aware.