Trading your life for money, make every minute matter

My life in bad Bay Area traffic on the Waze appI knew that I was trading my life for money. But, after 8 solid years of commuting every day in horrific traffic to a corporate office, I made a terrible mistake.

I calculated how many hours I spent commuting in crawling stop-and-go traffic every year. Then, I added up how many hours of my life that had been for the past 8 years.

Then, I projected how much of my life would be wasted and lost to that commute if I continued doing this until “retirement.”

Have you done this? Maybe you’re one of those lucky few who don’t have a work commute. But, many of us spend/spent hours each day in a car or on a train.

It’s eye-opening.

It’s terrifying. I immediately became nauseous thinking about the precious remainder of my life being spent in a stressful commute.

Americans spend over 100 hours a year commuting

I wish.

My daily life in heavy traffic on Hwy 17

I was spending over 625 hours a year on my commute when I finally left my corporate job behind.

That’s 26 full 24 hr days/year spent on the lovely California freeways.

After 4 years of that at my last corporate job, that was 104 days of my life.

That would be 3 1/2 months of my life driving 24 hrs a day on the freeway.

Projecting forward, that would mean spending entire years of my life on a freeway.

That was the day that something inside of me snapped. I couldn’t waste the rest of my life this way. I left corporate and went independent. I just couldn’t return to that life once I did the math and knew what it meant.

Now, of course, it depends on what you’re doing. If your job is a calling and has incredible meaning, then a commute might be worth it. But, I wasn’t saving children or curing cancer. I was trying to figure out how to increase revenue for Search, getting people to click more ads, but not be too annoyed with us. Not exactly a world-changing mission.

My point with all of this is that we trade our life energy for money when we take a job. Make sure that it matters. Make it count.

And, be fully aware of the true price you are paying. For me, it wasn’t just the 10–12 hours spent every day at work. It was also the daily toll the commute was taking.

Make every minute of your life matter.