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What Currency Do You Use to Measure Your Life?

It’s funny, for all the writing I do about personal finance and such, I don’t really measure my success in terms of money. I think I tend to measure it in terms of little accomplishments—on any front.

At the end of the day, Micah and I lie in bed and chat before falling asleep. One thing I like to do is list every accomplishment I made that day and he’ll give me positive feedback (no, it doesn’t take forever…). Feeling like the day was productive helps me prepare to fall asleep. Some of my early blog posts were just me recounting my achievements for the day.

The accomplishment can be financial “I sold that essay” or “I updated our budget.” It can be part of a longer-term goal “I finished two chapters of research” or something short-term “I made curry.”

When it comes out into the grander scheme, I’m more likely to focus on the accomplishment than the actual dollars and cents. We paid off Micah’s credit card in September and while the blog post tells you exactly how much we paid, I can’t tell you offhand how much richer that made me. I’m just excited that we wiped out that piece of debt (little wins!).

Or I’ll look at having a blog with over 500 posts and 7 months (someone is loquacious) or at the quilts I completed.

How do you measure your success? Accomplishments? Relationships? Money? Or is it all some kind of mix?

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Christine March 24, 2008 at 10:54 pm

Aw, that’s so cute. I miss you guys.

Mark March 25, 2008 at 10:05 am

success for me was finding your site! Did that score me any points:) Staying with something (my blog) that I started with has become a big success for me because of the relationships I’m building.

Cath Lawson March 25, 2008 at 10:42 am

Hi Mrs M – I used to measure business accomplishment merely in financial terms when I first set out. Then I had to change strategies.

So I set goals and I’m happy when I achieve them, no matter how small they are.

I write a list each day and highlight each task in yellow when I’ve done it. It’s amazing how much better all those yellow highlights make you feel.

cybele March 25, 2008 at 11:49 am

Well, Freud was on to something, you know, when he remarked that we all need love and work…and for me that means accomplishing things/reaching targets or goals, helping others to grow and achieve their goals, and creating as happy a life as you can for yourself and those around you are the currencies I’d choose. Money tends to follow if you are good at what you do and willing to try for being the best at it (whatever it is). But another thing to keep in mind is that it is not given to us mortals to achieve perfection…and that nothing beats a good laugh.
Does that make sense?

Becky@FamilyandFinances March 25, 2008 at 1:11 pm

I put a large stake in relationships. If my relationships aren’t going well, life doesn’t look as rosy, even if my finances and my work are going well.

I’ve been lucky to have mostly really good relationships in my life, so life looks rosy a lot πŸ™‚

Looby March 25, 2008 at 1:58 pm

I agree with Cybele, I consider it a really good day if I have cried with laughter at least once.
Like you I like to look at my little achievements; making samosas for the first time and them being edible, getting through my do to list, making my granny’s birthday present.

no more spending March 25, 2008 at 4:31 pm

I measure my life by the fact that I have 3 happy, healthy, kind and polite children.

~dawn March 25, 2008 at 4:35 pm

I like to look back over my day or week and see how much down time or quiet time I had, the more the better… it helps to center me.

RacerX March 25, 2008 at 4:54 pm

I like the bedtime idea! I think I will steal that for the kids as well!

emilyg March 25, 2008 at 5:01 pm

That’s an interesting question — I agree that you can’t always measure your life by money. I was actually just thinking about this, because I am currently saving like crazy to make it to Europe later this year to visit a few friends studying abroad, and to see several countries I’ve always dreamed of. I know that when the trip is complete, my travel savings and tax rebate and surplus checks will be totally drained, leaving me with no more money in those areas. But I know that the experiences I will have and the gratification of doing something I’ve always dreamed of will give me a much greater sense of accomplishment than having all that money just sitting in a bank. Plus, I will be proud of myself for having saved up and getting myself there, and being brave to do it even though I have a digestive order that can make me feel pretty crummy at times. I think experiences are often the best ways to measure life.

Fabulously Broke March 25, 2008 at 8:47 pm

I really like that idea. Of listing and really publishing to yourself (and hubby!) of your accomplishments..

To make you feel great about the day.. even over little things…

dawn March 25, 2008 at 11:25 pm

I’m a bit hyper & can tend to measure my day by what I’ve gotten done. But what actually makes me feel successful – is how much I’ve loved & laughed with my family and friends at the end of a day.

Shanti @ Antishay March 26, 2008 at 1:13 am

This is a great musing on something strong to me πŸ™‚ I have never put my worth in my financial success – it just doesn’t seem natural to me. On the flip side, however, I did put my self-worth to the test when I got into debt… that definitely made me feel awful and it was a personal struggle to get over it, forgive myself, and work on getting out of debt.

All the while, however, I have to say that I measure myself in successes, both big and small πŸ˜‰ Just like you said about the daily convo with Micah, I do the same with myself or with Sean (bf, on the phone). We both unwind at the end of the day by talking about our small successes and failures that day and how we want to move forward and improve. I feel so lucky to have found a man who shares my drive and passion for both work an life πŸ˜€ We’re both conscious of the little benchmarks in our own lives and in our work lives.

My currency? Experiences. I completed a blog post I’ve been thinking about for a while, I successfully made soup (!), or I finally dealt with that damn email I’ve left in the “action” folder for two months. These all make me feel successful, and like I’m “winning” at life πŸ™‚

cybele March 27, 2008 at 4:49 am

Had lunch with a friend yesterday…he’s about to be 80 — yes, that old! — and he’s a billionaire (yup). Know what he measures his success in, judging from what he talks about? First of all, his son, who’s taken over the family business and the fact that they have never had an argument because they early on agreed about the rules of the game, as it were, and then stuck to them. So…his family/his son’s success seemed to be number one …or maybe two, because his other “big” thing is that he’s working on something new (again), and his ability to help turn a concept into a reality is a measure for him of his accomplishments. He’s also got things going in China, where he’s proud of helping create business links between people (I see this as a form of mentoring, which is also a big source of satisfaction for me). It’s interesting because he also always has time — or makes it — to do nice things, even if small…give you the name of a good real estate agent, or put you in touch with someone or whatever. He’s a busy man so those touches tend to make more of an impression, although aren’t we all busy? and don’t those small things make life so much nicer? From my point of view, and from a currency of life angle, having met and held on to friends like him is a bonus payment. πŸ˜‰ Friendship is the strongest currency I know.

deepali March 27, 2008 at 6:44 pm

I’ve had a successful day when I haven’t lost my temper. Because darn it, there are a lot of annoying people out there. πŸ™‚

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