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Show Me Your Calendar and Your Checkbook, and I’ll Show You What’s Really Important in Your Life

It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is John Rydell – Enjoy!

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photo credit: Panpote

My brother and I run a family of software companies, each with their own unique products. Over the past year, we’ve been lucky enough to experience a pretty big spike in growth. Suddenly, our simple time-tracking methods just weren’t enough to capture how all our resources were allocated between our different products.  After some discussion about how it might affect the culture of the company, we decided to have our team start tracking their time.

As you might expect, we learned a lot from a business perspective, and it also got me thinking about a quotation I heard about 15 years ago: “Show me your calendar and your checkbook, and I’ll show you what’s really important in your life.”  Times have changed (“show me your Outlook and Mint.com account”?), but the message is as relevant as ever. No matter what you claim to be important to you, your calendar and checkbook will tell you the truth.

2014 is upon us, and now is as good a time as any to take stock of how you’re spending your time and money.

What is most important to you?

Before you continue reading, please take a few minutes to jot down what is important in your life.

You might have a hobby that’s important, or perhaps religion. Whatever your list is, keep it handy so you can refer back to it later.

How do you actually spend your time?

Now that you have created your list, I challenge you to truly look at your calendar for the past day, week, month, and year. Where has your time actually gone?

Are you taking the time to give back to your community and your church? Do you take the time to exercise and spend time with your friends and family?

Consider the following question: “How would I spend my day if time and money didn’t matter?” That usually gives you some clues about what is most important to you.

How do you actually spend your money?

Next, let’s look at your money. Go back through your expenses for the year and be honest about where your money went. It doesn’t have to be precise, but you can quickly get a good sense about your spending.

I know it is easy to think that this exercise would be a lot simpler and more fun if you were rich. But the truth is that if you are reading this blog, it is likely that you are in the top 1% of all earners on the planet. In fact, you may even be in the top 10% of all earners in the United States. No matter what you think, you do have choices about how you spend your money.

What financial goals are important to you? You need to ensure that you have a real plan for funding all of these things in a manner that you can be proud of.

In my case, my wife and I have worked hard to get to the point where we set aside 15% for savings and 10% for charity. That isn’t easy to do and it didn’t happen overnight.  We started with smaller percentages and built up. Another thing that helps us is that we automatically put money into separate accounts for things like charity, taxes, and savings to ensure that the money is set aside.

Decide what is important to you strategically and stick with it. Don’t keep spending money on something just because it is what you’re used to doing.

So what can you do about this in 2014?

Find one area in your life where you can make a small change in your time and money. Perhaps you need to commit to spending 2 extra hours per week on your health and nutrition. Or you need to save an extra 1% of your money for retirement. Make one small change and commit to it in 2014.

2014 is around the corner. Now is the time to take a careful look at your time and money and make sure you are spending it in the right places next year. Your health, your family, your business, your charitable community, and the world will all be better if you do.

JohnJohn Rydell is a seasoned entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience starting and growing technology and telecom companies. John currently spends his time as president of Networx Online, a CRM-in-the-cloud business that provides online marketing solutions for network marketers. John is also president and co-founder of the sales automation tool PhoneBurner.com as well as the popular free online meeting provider MeetingBurner.com.

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