More Value

In school we have grades to measure our performance and in the workplace we have salaries.

Living without a traditional job for the past months, I’ve realized just how much of my identity has been wrapped up in a paycheck. It was harder than I anticipated to leave this marker of my worth (an income) behind. I began to wonder…Did I place too much value on price?

“Price is a public matter — a negotiation between supply and demand. A thing’s price is set in competition. So the price of a car is determined by how much some people want it, how much they are willing to pay, and how ready the manufacturer is to sell. It’s a public activity: lots of people are involved in the process, but your voice is almost never important in setting the price.

Value, on the other hand, is a personal, ethical and aesthetic judgment — assigned finally by individuals, and founded on their perceptiveness, wisdom and character.”*

In school we have grades to measure our performance and in the workplace we have salaries, all of which are ultimately determined by others. Opting out of these worlds for a time allowed me to recalibrate my worth according to my own definition. With a stricter budget and no job to dictate how I spent my time, I got really clear on what I value. Material comforts became less important and spiritual nourishment became primary.

In these months of unemployment I created a movement, I read great books, I began to dig deep for my purpose and identify what I was willing to give up for it. From the outside, my life has been anything but glamorous. I neglected to keep up with the latest fashions or dine at hip restaurants. In fact, I spend most of my days cooking simple meals at home and reading. I will eventually get another job or perhaps create one of my own, but I will never forget to ask whether the price paid is justified by the return. Is this thing, person, pursuit really necessary for me to lead a good life? If not, feel free to let go and mark it as a gain.

*From How to Worry Less About Money via Brain Pickings.


    1. Thanks CP! Your friendship and partnership has definitely helped me grow in these new ways. Look forward to more discoveries to come, the journey has only just begun 😉

    1. Absolutely! I think in a way those superficial markers kept me from finding deeper ways of connecting with others. It feels good to be able to let things like money and titles go and focus on real, long-lasting friendships. Loved the article!

  1. Hi Maryn, It’s been a continual process for me too. Even after all these years, it can be hard to separate my sense of worth from money. And more importantly, I believe my whole being craves to contribute and not working can put a big damper of that aspect of expression.

    Sounds like you are handling the process with more grace and wisdom. Congrats! 🙂

    1. Hi Brad – I think we are trained to think of our worth in terms of our salaries and titles, but it’s such an unsatisfying way to live because those things are so unstable and also not necessarily reflective of what we value. I understand about the need to contribute, but I think you are doing that with your kind words and thoughts…Thanks, as always, for your encouragement!

  2. Maryn,

    Good for you break free of the traditional and live more intentionally. I am interested to hear more about your journey, as I am looking forward to doing the same soon.

    I especially agree with John Armstrong’s statement, “We don’t want to reserve our central capacities for the margins and weekends of life.” I want to focus my prime time on that which is most important to me.

    best regards,

    1. Thanks for visiting John! I love that quote…This year has definitely been one of reevaluating what matters most. After years of becoming more independent financially, I finally took the leap and moved to a new city that is more suited to my lifestyle. Shortly thereafter I was able to leave my job and start a project I really care about.

      When I started letting go of what was unnecessary in my life, I made room for what I actually wanted. Of course, it’s all a process and I’m continually working at it. Look forward to hearing more about your journey and the exciting changes to come!

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