How would your life be different if you could take money out of the equation?
That’s the question I’ve been asking myself for the last few months. And the places I’ve traveled as a result of that question have been quite interesting.
Money Crunch Redefined
Like many small businesses and freelancers, I’m experiencing a slow down. My clients are dealing with challenges, and as a result, they are slowing down the work to me. Even contracted work is being delayed. Some projects are smaller than the original scope. While I’ve added a couple new clients, the projects are smaller and perhaps further apart than usual.
At first, like everyone else, I reacted to the financial impact of the situation. And then I realized, there is another way to see this, a different way to frame my situation. I took money out of the equation, and when I did this, I realized I had a totally different kind of situation. For the first time in many years, I actually have extra time!
I’ve been so fortunate for many years to have great clients with growing businesses. This has kept me busy, in fact, often busier than I prefer to be. It’s also meant that I’ve had to sideline some of my own projects. I’ve kept a list of projects I felt were important to my business, things I needed some large blocks of time to pursue and develop. And guess what?! I’ve got that time now.
Time Surplus Advantage
After I redefined my current situation, I stopped worrying about money and felt empowered to spend my time wisely. After all, I’ve got a backlog of projects for my company, and I don’t know when my situation will change. I feel so much appreciation to have this window where I can devote chunks of time to my own projects. In fact, I’ve been working long days and long weeks to squeeze out every minute of time for my projects.
The reason for this is simple. The process of working on these personal projects leaves me rejuvenated, and triggers new ideas for even more exciting projects I want to tackle. My business life is juicier than it’s been in many years. I have a new joy for my work.
In the process, time has become the most valuable asset for my company, not finances. As I watch what’s happening now, I’m left with a new desire. Going forward, when my client work picks up again, I want to make sure that I have enough time to spend on my own projects. My creativity needs to be unleased more often like this. The sense of momentum I feel as I complete my own projects is like a sudden avalanche. I love the way I feel about my work. And I want to always stay in this space.
All of this causes me to rethink my attitudes and feelings about money. I believe I have very healthy habits and attitudes about money to begin with, and this exercise is only making them better.
When I started thinking about what motivates me, and I decided to take money out of the equation, I was left with some ideas to ponder. First, I know that money isn’t really going away. Many of the goods and services I need each month require cash transactions. But beyond that, what good is money, anyway?
I discovered that I want money because I think I can trade it for things that will make me happy. That might not seem profound to you, but it is to me. Money has no value itself. It’s greatest value to me is what I can trade it for that will make me happy. In other words, money is the middle man. What if I could find a way to be happier without that middle man?
Asking New Questions
Let’s take that classic female love of shoes as an example. Let’s say that one thing I love to spend money on is new shoes. If I take money out of the equation, what happens to random and often unnecessary shoe purchases? They won’t happen. But can I find a way to transfer my love of beautiful shoes to something that doesn’t require money? Something that will fulfill me and yet not require money? It’s still a question, but I’m sure I’m going to figure out an answer.
So rather than tell myself I can’t buy new shoes, I’m asking myself a question: what is it about the shoes that I love, and what can I substitute that gives me the same joy without requiring money?
It seems like a brilliant strategy to me. What do you think?