Updated on 10.10.07

Your Money Or Your Life: How Much Is Enough? The Nature Of Fulfillment

Trent Hamm

YMOYLThis is the tenth part of The Simple Dollar Book Club reading of Your Money or Your Life. Want to know more?

This chapter of Your Money or Your Life starts off with six questions that I thought were well worth reflecting on. So, here are my reflections on these questions.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I alternated between wanting to be a scientist (focusing on a life science) or a writer. I felt some strong pushing towards becoming a medical doctor and some strong pushing towards being a writer, so I more or less rejected both and found another path.

What have you always wanted to do that you haven’t yet done?
Publish a book (preferably a novel) through a large enough publishing house that I could reasonably walk into a large bookstore in the first few months of its publication and find a copy for sale.

What have you done in your life that you’re really proud of?
Personally, raising my children. Professionally… well, you’re reading it. The sustained effort and relative level of quality of The Simple Dollar makes me very proud.

If you knew you were going to die within a year, how would you spend that year?
I’d stay at home with my kids and go on several road trips with them. I would hope to make that year very memorable for my son (my daughter is probably too young) and hopefully when he’s older he’ll know that his father loved him.

What brings you the most fulfillment – and how is that related to money?
Two things: spending time with my children and writing. The first one is basically an expense – children cost money. The other one earns a little money overall.

If you didn’t have to work for a living, what would you do with your time?
I’d write during the day, continuing The Simple Dollar and probably starting another blog and also propose a book deal. I’d drop my children off in the morning at daycare (I really, really like the environment of their daycare) and then pick them up in the evening, bring them home, and feed them a homecooked meal, then play with them and read to them until their bedtime. That would be my normal day.

What sort of picture does that paint? The only thing really keeping me from following that path is my own fear, really – fear that I won’t be able to make adequate money writing.

How do you answer these questions? I found it pretty powerful and a good indication of where my life perhaps should be headed.

From here, the chapter continues onto Step 4 of the plan, which contains “Three Questions That Will Transform Your Life.” Tomorrow, we’ll dig into these three questions, starting the section entitled “Question 1.” We’ll read this whole section, up until the “Assessing the Three Questions” heading. This section appears on pages 113 through 128 in my paperback version of the book.

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  1. Charlie says:

    Hi! Thanks for the post. These questions seem great for guiding one to a more meaningful career and life. Judging by this blog (which I LOVE), I think you will definitely get to a point where you can quit your job. You have a great writing style and awesome ideas and insights. All the best!

  2. I won’t take the time to detail my answers to these questions, but I can say that the exercise is well worth doing.

    Funny observation though- my first career dream was to be a lawyer, then a professional basketball player. Now I’m a web developer/designer. How the heck did that happen? :)

  3. Sunshine says:

    Long time, first time…

    Funny that I picked up this book and plowed through it just before you started your book club. I am still working on the exercises, but slowly, a clearer picture of what I want to do is surfacing.

    Basically, I want to travel, help people in a medically/health related way (very vague, I know, but I’m getting there), and reconnect/deepen the relationships with my many, many family members around the country.

    I do appreciate your reviews of the chapters as it helps clarify some things and also provides a different view point. Rather, I should say many view points due to the commentors.

  4. Laura says:

    I have to say that these questions were difficult to go over. I’m happy with the man that I marry and the family and friends that I have, but I realized that I’m limiting my dreams. I’m afraid to do what I love because I fear I’ll be like my father. He was a graphic designer and worked at home. He was quite gifted, but he was horrible with money. His financial choices were irresponsible to say the least. Now I realize that I avoid more creative careers, because I felt that it wouldn’t be able to pay the bills.

    Thanks Trent for reviewing this section. Sorry about my ramble.

  5. Awesome post!
    The book is very tempting; especially now that I know it has intriguing questions and the honest answers will definitely help myself in getting to where I want to be.. :)

  6. kim says:

    I don’t get your priorities. I’m sure you’ll rake me over the coals for this, but I think your a hypocrite. You always say your children are your top priority and I have always respected that about you. Now you say that if you didn’t have to work you would still choose to institutionalize your toddler son and infant daughter. Do you seriously think your parenting is less important than the institutionalized socialization you infant daughter receives from daycare? I see no benefits for an infant to be away from a parent all day. There are benefits for a toddler, but the time away from parents needed to achieve those benefits is quite small. A good library playgroup or music class can produce equal results in much less time.
    I hold no ill towards people who really need daycare. There are plenty of families who would be on the streets without two incomes and good daycare options. I take great issue with people who have children, claim to hold them as the top priority in their lives, and then warehouse them all day and play with them a bit before bed because they want the convenience of having them out of the way while they live life on their terms. You, Trent, are a hypocrite because that is exactly what you said you would do when you wrote about what you would do if you didn’t have to work.

  7. plonkee says:

    It takes a village to raise a child, or clearly in the case of Trent and his kids, him, his wife, there extended family and friends and a daycare centre. Everyone must do what’s best for their children, and putting them first can easily mean putting them into the care of others for some part of the week.

  8. Ann says:

    Whoa kim…give the guy a break…geez…when it comes down to it, there’s hypocrisy in all of us and throwing such harsh words at another person leads me to believe you must have spent several hours (at least) introspectively examining yourself and your own priorities and motives to feel comfortable enough to write your post. That said, you have arrived at a place of “clean heart” I (and many of us) will spend a lifetime journeying towards.

    And Trent, well, I admire you for resisting the temptation to delete the comment.

    Finally, getting to what is really important, establishing priorities, if you will, is a journey and not a destination. Sometimes life experiences help us to see clearly what is truly important sooner than later. As far as our children go…we get one chance with them, brief and intense…it usually lasts about 18-22 years and then your children are grown. There’s no mulligans, no do overs. Then we look across the table in the morning and (Lord willing) we are looking at our life partner on the other side of all that chaos and we say…now what? While all the chaos of raising a family is going on we are wise to continue to nurture and grow our relationship so when that day comes (and it will) we can take each others hands and walk forward into another season of life.

    I kind of think it boils down to a lot more than living for the weekend and 60. I am sure many of you have heard “do what you love, love what you do” and “do what you love and the money will follow”….at this point in my life (40) by my experience only, I can say that is true.

  9. Ann says:

    Oh, and I wasn’t going to read this book…not like I already have two others going…but now I’m intrigued…I’m in.

  10. Laura says:

    you may have missed a reason for why Trent would choose to have his kids in daycare. He really liked the environment of it. My mother was a director of several daycares and I’ve seen realy great ones and horrible ones. Some of the best ones were basically a large home setting and very personalized attention.

    There’s no substitution for parental invlovement and Trent is not saying that the daycare is meant to do that. I wouldn’t jump to conclusions with Trent’s feelings on the matter.

    I appreciate you sharing your thoughts honestly. Thanks for the great post.

  11. guinness416 says:

    Well that took a turn for the WTF. Were our 1970s parents raging opinionated lunatics too, or is it just the internet that brings this out?

  12. rebecca says:

    what struck me about the daycare in the original post was that he would be dropping them off in the morning and not picking them up till evening. That seems like a very long time if you are not having a long commute to an outside the house job.

    If Trent is going to be writing during the day, he would need the kids in some sort of care situtation while he is working at home, so continuing the daycare is not the problem. But I just groaned at the thought of those poor kids there all day everyday, with so little time at home.

    That might not have been what Trent meant but that is how I read it, so I can see how others with strong parenting philosophies might take offense.

  13. rhbee says:

    Two things, it seems to me that Kim may be more than slightly jealous that Trent has kids he can drop off at a daycare. And Trent seems to be saying that he is satisfied that he uses the daycare for the right reasons now and so he wouldn’t change that in the future.

  14. kim says:

    I have three kids. I have a degree in psychology and education. I am a proud stay home mom. At any point I could decide to go back to work and put my children in daycare. I would never dream of it. I actually dream of pulling my twins from public school and homeschooling as I travel around the country exposing them to all this nation has to offer. Since I am fortuanate enough to have a financial situation that allows me to stay home, I could not imagine a situation where would just plunk them in daycare instead of spending my time with them. I happen to think that putting an infant in daycare is just plain wrong, except in cases of extreme financial hardship. I think that it is shameful that any parent would, in a situation where you had no need to work as in Trent’s hypothetical situation above, choose to put an infant is a situation where she is separated from both her parents and her sibling from morning to evening. I would call that a poor parenting decision. I really don’t care how wonderful the daycare environment is, it’s not a parents arms. rhbee, I was under the impression that Trent currently uses his daycare because he needs to work. That is not the situation I am commenting on.

  15. rhbee says:

    Wow, some people live, others live for others, some of us prefer the former, others choose the latter, the only way this system goes wrong is when one’s choice becomes the choice everyone must make.

  16. Betty Ann says:

    Wow..I was a STAY AT HOME MOM..because I thought it was the best for the way I was living.

    But TRENT has a right to live the way he wants to LIVE..

    And really how can he write and take care of two children at the same time???

    He would be FRESH in the evening to give them all his love and attention and that is a very good thing too. He would not come home drained from a loooooong commute like those I know ofter are on trains and buses for over an hour at night and too tired to enjoy their children.

    He would give them enough loving attention in the evenings, but also in the morning as he got them ready for daycare and took them there.

    I really dislike how people are so judgmental.

    Live and Let LIVE.. as long as no one is physically harming anyone.. or emotionally .. and Trent is not doing that at all.

    I say that as a SAHM of over 20 years who still only work when my last child who is turning 12 is at school. I work in the field and then home by 2:00 pm and enter reports on my lap top as he plays outside with friends; Hockey and baseball; and comes in and out for snacks or to ask me something or for dinner; or to go with me at night to walk dog etc.

    I still won’t work full time .. and not be here as a single mom; and I won’t put him in afterschool day care.. but that is JUST the way I want to live.

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