More Is Not Always Better

More Is Not Always Better

Morgan Housel’s recent article about getting to the point got me thinking.  In a way, the Blinkist app only exists because authors use far more words than necessary to make a point.

That said, I’m not convinced it’s because the author doesn’t want to condense their thoughts.  Rather, it’s more likely because people are unreasonable in believing more is better.

Buying a 200/300 page book for $10 seems like a better value than buying a 50-page book for $10 even if that 50-page book packs the same value in a more digestible format that could be read in a quarter of the time.

More is not always better.  Less can actually be more valuable because of what you gain (or don’t give up) through the process.  In the example above, you could have gained time and still received the same intellectual benefits.

In other words, you have to know what you’re giving up to know if more is actually better.

I was recently offered a job with my current company that would pay between 2x-3x more than I’m currently making.  On the surface, accepting the offer is a no-brainer, but spoiler alert, I turned it down.  Most people thought I was nuts for doing so, but hear me out.

Initially, it was an intriguing offer for more than just the pay.  The new role would be interesting and exciting.  I would be able to expand my sphere of influence and be more recognized within the company.

From a pay perspective, it sounded amazing because of what it could mean for our family.  Though we’d have to relocate, it was to a wonderful city, where we’ve lived before, so even that could be considered a plus.  It’s a little more expensive, but with limitless activities at your fingertips.

But, even after cost of living increases, I roughly calculated that at the rate we’d be able to increase our investing, we’d be financially independent in just 5-10 years depending upon where we would want to move at that point.

Pretty cool, right?  We’d be around age 40-45 and technically would have reached every goal we laid out far earlier than expected.

But as you know, we discussed it and ended up deciding against it.

Here’s why.  Plain and simple, the job would require more hours than I was willing to sacrifice away from my children.  There would be many early mornings and even more late nights.  It involved more travel too, though nothing crazy.

For me though, the freedom that I enjoy right this second with my two boys far outweighs reaching my goals earlier than expected.

Taking them to school, and being home before dinner almost every night.  Enjoying their company as often as I can and being present every minute that we’re together.  In the next couple years, I’d love to coach their sports teams.  I also enjoy our family weekends without corporate bureaucracy hanging over my head.

Through this process, I’ve thought a lot about the fact that we are limited in the amount of time that we get to spend with our children, especially in the early formative years.  And that’s primarily what drove my decision.  I saw a chart a couple years back from a site called Wait But Why:

The chart above shows the amount of time we spend in person with our parents throughout our lives.  The red represents the time spent through high school, and the black represents what’s left after high school.

It was accompanied by the following statement:

It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time.

If you live in the same town as your parents, you probably have more.  But there is no guarantee that my sons will come back to where we live once they become adults and have families of their own.

It’s an absolutely startling statistic and one has obviously stuck with me.  I’ll never be able to get this time back, so this decision was an absolute no-brainer for me, despite how surprising it was to those around me.

In an effort of full disclosure, it does help that we make enough money currently to put both of our boys through college with no debt and still be able to retire earlier than most.  Not crazy early, but early enough.  And if I’m smart with all future pay increases, I’ll be on track for even earlier.

I don’t think my decision would have changed even if the above weren’t true, but I did feel it was relevant.

It also helps that I’m one of the lucky few that actually enjoys what I do, so, the idea of being free from having to work is, of course, interesting, but not a primary goal.  Spending quality time with my wife and sons is.

At the end of the day, money is just money and what I would’ve given up in order to make more just wasn’t worth it.

Knowing what’s most important in your life is the first step to a full life, and for me, that’s spending time with my family.  I don’t recall where I got this phrase, but it seems appropriate and is one I hope you carry with you also:

When your values are clear, your decisions are easy.

I will never be willing to compromise time with my family regardless of what else might be on the other side.

Next time you’re faced with a decision where more is an option, ask yourself what you have to give up in order to get it.  Your decision may become quite clear.

Additional Reading That Might Knock Your Socks Off (It truly made me re-think my aspirational goals):

The Disease of More by Mark Manson

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