There are several articles which describe stages of financial status in essentially this order:
Survival is basically, well, at least you aren’t dead. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Stability is basically when you’re making enough money to not be concerned about backsliding into survival mode.
Security is basically being financially comfortable.
Success is basically doing whatever it is that you want to do.
Significance is basically being useful to other people.
These aren’t necessarily discrete categories.
You might be in survival mode, but you’re still significant to people, such as potentially a mother who is destitute but still manages to feed her kids.
You might be successful in business, but you never have any time to enjoy your success, so you’re actually only secure because you’re always doing what you have to do and you’re never doing what you want to do.
I think it’s a good idea to consider which category you may currently reside in, whether you have the ability (or even the desire) to achieve the next level up, and whether what you’re doing for yourself and others is helping you or holding you back from your greatest potential.
What’s The Matter With Your Life?
First of all, money isn’t everything.
If you’re rich and you’re also a piece of shit, you can take a long walk on a short plank.
The point here isn’t really money, but rather how you elect to allocate your abilities, resources, time, capital, or whatever else you have towards goals that you perceive to be or at least hope to be progressive and worthwhile for yourself and others.
The categories are a hierarchy of desirable stages in life.
So maybe we’re talking about computer programming, so first you want to be a computer programmer but you aren’t, and then you start studying, and then you become good enough to get a job, and then you become good enough to become a project manager and supervise other programmers.
Maybe we’re talking about fishing and at first you can’t catch anything, and then you can catch one fish per day, and then you can catch enough fish to feed yourself for the day, and then you can catch enough fish to feed your family and friends for the day, and then you can catch enough to sell the excess at the marketplace for a profit.
Whatever it is, it’s important to assess whether what you’re doing is the best thing for you to be doing.
If you’re fishing well enough to feed yourself for the day, but then you’re giving some of your fish away to other people so they can eat also, you aren’t getting your proper nutrition for the day. o_O
If you’re fishing well enough to make a profit in the marketplace, but your friends and family are starving, what are you really doing with your life? o_O
How are you allocating your resources?
Return On Investment
What are people doing with what you’re doing for them? o_O
Let’s say you decide you’re going to spend an hour making a tutorial showing people how to properly mop a floor.
How many people have to learn from you in order for your time to have been spent efficiently? o_O
Is it worth your hour if only one person becomes a better mopper? 😀
How many people make it worth it? 6? 10? 100? 1,000?
Let’s say you only have one person watching your mopping videos… How does that affect your topic selection and the time you’re willing to allocate to your video creation process?
At the end of a year, what effect have you had on the mopping community?
Do the ends justify the means?
What if you’re making music?… How many records (downloads) do you need to sell before it was monetarily worth your while to create your art?
Are you making records in order to make money?
Are you making records because you have something to say?
Why do you make music at all? Are you a musician? Do you enjoy the time you spend playing music? Do you love who you are while you’re doing it?
Why do you play video games? Do you get paid to do that? What are you getting from it?
What happens when you offer to work for people? Do they accept or reject your offer? Do they accept and then drag their feet making it happen? Do they pay you up front, or do they make myriad excuses about why they can’t afford work that they told you they need in order for their business to become more successful? Do they care about the success of their business? Do they care about you? Do they care about themselves?
There are only 24 hours in a day.
Most likely, you will spend 8 of those hours sleeping, so that leaves 16.
If you have a 9-5, you will spend 8 of those hours working, so that leaves 8.
If you don’t work from home, you’ll spend at least an hour a day commuting, leaving 7.
If you exercise to maintain your body, that leaves 6.
If you eat food, that leaves 5.
Let’s say the rest of your daily necessities take another 2 hours, leaving 3.
3 hours is 180 minutes.
Each email you read and respond to will cost you 5-15 minutes.
Interacting with people via social media could cost you another hour per day.
Now consider what you aren’t doing for yourself while you’re doing things for other people…..
If you don’t go to the gym because you spent that time answering people’s emails, you’re doing the wrong thing for your body.
If you don’t eat properly because you’re interacting with people via social media, you’re doing the wrong thing for your body.
If you don’t work because you spend too much time in the gym, you aren’t doing the right thing for your wallet.
If you don’t sleep because you’re working 16 hours a day, you’re doing the wrong thing for your body.
The question, therefore, is whether you can afford your current lifestyle in the long run.
Before you can help others, you have to help yourself first.
That isn’t always true, such as in the case of the destitute mother who makes sure her kids eat whether she gets something to eat or not.
However.. On a long enough timeline, that lifestyle isn’t sustainable.
The less you eat, the less energy you’ll have, and the less you’ll be able to efficiently interact with your children.
There’s no point in throwing people a life preserver when you’re in a boat with holes in it.
If you don’t fix the holes, EVERYBODY IS GOING TO DROWN whether you pull them into the boat or not.
This of course can lead to guilt.
“How can I eat properly when I know that other people that I could have assisted aren’t eating properly? o_O”
This brings us back to the 5 S categories.
If you’re in survival mode and you try to help someone else survive, y’all might both croak.
If you’re in stability mode and you’re financing someone else’s life, you might unknowingly and unwittingly backslide into survival mode with them.
If you’re in security mode and you’re financing someone else’s life, you might not backslide, but you’ll enjoy your life way less because the money you would have been spending on what you WANT will be spent on what someone else NEEDS, or you’ll have to increase your work hours so you can maintain your financial comfort and pay for someone else to stay alive….. Increasing your work hours decreases your leisure hours. You’re trading your personal enjoyment in for guilt relief.
Many people attempt to be Significant to others when they aren’t even Successful for themselves.
Sometimes, this is necessary, as life often pitches curveballs to you or to people you care about.
What you have to do is know the ledge.
Know how much help you can offer someone without poking holes in your own boat.
Guilt will tell you that it’s better for you to sink in your ship while attempting to save other people from drowning.
At the end of the proverbial day, **SOMEBODY** has to remain alive….
Abundance & Scarcity
Then again, maybe you don’t believe that.
Maybe you think it’s a better idea for everybody to die because of one weak link in the chain.
Maybe you think it’s better for everybody to be poor because of one weak link in the chain.
Maybe you would feel better if you were dragged into a barrel full of crabs.
Maybe your life would be easier if you weren’t the successful one and people didn’t always have their hand out for a handout.
I don’t think that’s a good idea.
I think people should achieve whatever they can to their greatest potential and then help people however they can with the time, energy, money, and other resources they’ve accumulated that won’t ruin their current standing.
What’s the value of recording a 1-hour tutorial video if you should have spent that hour at the gym maintaining your body, energy, and well-being?
What’s the value of spending an hour working for a client when you should have been assisting your daughter with her math homework?
What’s the value of attempting to get people who hate themselves to love themselves?
When you allocate time, energy, capital, and resources towards helping people that don’t matter to you, you’re stealing all those things from people who DO matter to you.
Prioritization is Paramount.
Save yourself first.
When you can assist others without deteriorating your ability to assist others is when you should assist others.
Life isn’t fair.
If you’re doing well and other people aren’t, and you feel like assisting them, help them from ABUNDANCE and not from SCARCITY.
Build yourself up to where you can afford to hand out charity.
That charity might be to you and it might be to others.
The more you do for yourself, the higher you ascend in the hierarchy of S categories.
The more you do for yourself, the more you can do for other people without backsliding.
The less you do for yourself, the tougher it is for you to help others.
Plug the holes in YOUR BOAT before handing out life preservers to people without their own boat.