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.