Courtesy of Daily Devotional
Do you know what you are truly paying for in every aspect of your life? What are the different “life currencies” that we trade with?
Nope they aren’t just time and money, although both of those “life currencies” are extremely important.
If you think about it, there are actually 7 different baskets of “equity” in your life. To make it easier for you to remember, I have created the acronym SMARTER to depict what these seven currencies are: Space, Money, Attention, Relationships, Time, Energy, and Realness.
As you’d imagine, these 7 baskets of “life assets” are closely inter-twined and inter-related. When you “invest” or “expend” more of one currency, you will have less of the other, and vice-versa.
Let me go through each in turn.
Space can be conceived of in various ways. In the context of one’s life, it can be envisaged to be an absence of stuff – content, physical matter, or anything similar.
In my mind, there are five different types of spaces:
The different forms of spaces are often closely associated with each other. For example, when you sell a car, you are not just making space in your garage, but releasing the idea and feeling of being a car owner from your mind and your heart.
To enjoy bliss and peace of mind, you need to create sufficient space for yourself in all aspects of life.
Naturally, money is an important life asset. Without funds, we are unable to operate effectively and efficiently in almost every aspect of our life. The saying that “Money makes the world go round” is true in almost every situation.
With sufficient dough, you can purchase other “life assets” to shore up your life. For example, politicians use money to buy attention, families use money to buy space (homes), and working mothers use money to buy energy (eg by hiring a domestic helper).
Despite being highly fungible and hence popular, money has often attracted a lot of controversy. This isn’t because money is evil per se, but rather due to the impact of acquiring money on all your other life currencies.
In a cluttered and information overloaded world, attention is fast becoming a scarce resource. Many of us are guilty of spending hours and hours staring at our screens, oblivious to the world around us.
This scarcity of attention presents a paradox in the age of social media and mobile digital devices. Attention deficit disorders don’t just afflict kids – many adults are also infected by this malady.
By shifting our attention from the real world to the virtual world, we lose our presence and focus on the things which truly matter – the people, places and events around us. Distractions assail our senses and rob us of the intensity of our experience and our concentration. This reduces the quality of our work and our engagement with others.
Have you heard about the emotional bank account?
Popularised by Stephen Covey of the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” fame, its main premise is that we “deposit” into the emotional bank accounts of others when we do them a favour and “withdraw” from it when we need help from them.
If you think about it, relationships can be considered as a form of life currency. There are different dimensions of relationship capital here:
I love the Chinese saying “一寸光阴一寸金，寸金难买寸光阴” which literally means that an interval of time is worth more than an ounce of gold. Indeed, time is such a vital asset because lost time is irreplaceable.
The two seconds that you took to read this sentence, for instance, is gone forever. Sorry for robbing your time!
Time can be understood in various ways. However, I love how the ancient Greeks breaks it down time into two components:
Some say that time doesn’t really run out. Instead, what’s really ebbing away are bits of our life. Which brings us to the next life currency.
Have you ever felt totally exhausted, even when you were supposed to be on holiday? Or spent your precious weekend literally flat on your back?
Well, energy is one factor that is limited in our lives. Even the most well-trained Olympic athlete or hard driving CEO will face a limit to his or her energy levels.
Once again, there are different elements at play here:
Last, but certainly not least, realness is all about being your authentic and true self. How much of your identity is being shaped or stifled by your surroundings, stakeholders, or self-defeatist attitude?
Being real means having the freedom, motivation, energy, time, relational support, and finances to pursue your life’s work. It is about achieving self-actualisation and flow in whatever you do.
Unfortunately, many of us wear masks. We bury our ideals, values and beliefs. We keep our ideas in check. We divert our attention elsewhere.
We spend our “authenticity equity” in our hobbies and leave them behind when we check into our workplaces.
Now that you’ve learned all about the seven life currencies, it is useful to consider more holistically what the real costs of your actions and inactions are. As you’ve rightly guessed, life is really a balancing act where we trade one currency, asset or resource for another.
With the above framework in mind, it may be useful to draw up a table and consider the true costs of any pursuit weighted against the seven variables. You can develop your own scale for each variable and consider these in total.
What are your thoughts on the seven life currencies? Are there other “life costs” that we should consider?