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Time + Energy + Money = Purpose

Four years ago, I had a mental struggle. That well-known cliché of “time = money” was stuck in my mind. I was struggling with it because I had gone through a 3-month transition, and I realized the cliché was incorrect. I left the U.S. to be with my family in Barbados, and I was no longer making $50,000 per year. My salary was now at zero. In October 2018, I left the U.S., my job, my friends, and the country I thought I would call home, to return to Barbados to be the world’s best uncle. That is where my planning ended. I needed to save money, cancel my H1B visa, and reconnect with my family before I missed the opportunity.


One night I started to scribble in my notebook: “time = money” … no … “time + energy = money.” That moment was where I realized money couldn’t be the solution to the equation with an equal value to time. This went on for four or five more nights. Each night, I was trying to understand why I left the U.S. and returned to Barbados. “Did I do the right thing? How do I find mental calm?” As I tried to figure out this equation, I was putting my degree in economics to good use, especially since I had mainly been working in the field of social work upon leaving university.

Finally, an epiphany appeared scribbled across the page: “time + energy + money = purpose.” It gave me such clarity. We all have a limited supply of these resources, and we have the freedom to spend and adjust them how we desire. However, we should note this isn’t a 1+2+3 = 6 equation. It is more metaphorical and shows how we adjust where we spend our resources as we move towards our purpose like I discussed in my article “Find Purpose in Your Life Using This Simple Equation.”



Time is the scariest of all resources and, the one that is the most valuable. We all want to spend our time on our passions or things that have great meaning to us, but at times we find ourselves feeling stuck. Because we are spending time on things we have to do rather than things we want to do, it is imperative to understand why we are doing what we are doing to ascertain how it moves us towards our purpose.


Simply put, this is what we do. How we invest our mental, physical, and spiritual energy is a choice we all battle with daily and are often uncertain if we are making the correct choices. Here’s the thing, none of us know what we are doing. We are trying our best every day. We may want to project confidence, but we can relax knowing we are all in the same boat. All our energy investments may not be perfect, but we can honestly evaluate and improve our actions daily.


We know money. It is the means of exchange we use to buy goods and services. From a young age, we are told that money is the aim of life and it is to be chased at all costs. Most of us begin schooling at age 5, and we are told our purpose is to get a job so we can make money. Money is a wonderful tool, but it is only a tool and a PART of the equation — not the goal.


I often refer to purpose as “following your bliss,” which is a topic I will cover in my next article. Purpose is what we want to become. After investing time, energy, and money, what do you want to be at the end of that process? Do you want to be wealthy, a great parent, a professional athlete, or live a contented life? It can be anything. Your purpose and you get to decide, but there are always trade-offs between adjusting the allotment of time, energy, and money.


Now, we can apply the concepts towards understanding how to adjust the equation towards your purpose. Firstly, remember that we are always adjusting our personal equation. It is an exercise in futility to compare our resources to others. Do the best you can with what you have wherever you are. Secondly, your purpose can change at any moment, and that is your choice! It is not a failure or something to feel guilty about. When your purpose changes, you are free to adjust your resources, as well.

To tie it all together I will give two examples.

Your purpose is to make lots of money to live a comfortable life.

As a result, your equation would be spending lots of time and energy at work, to be able to make more money to go towards your purpose of becoming wealthy.

You have a baby on the way, and your purpose is to spend lots of time with them.


As a result, you want to spend more time at home, this may lead to less money, BUT you decided that your purpose has changed from wealth to family, so it is okay to make less money. In this one, energy probably may not increase or decrease, since babies take a lot of energy as well. Your purpose here is to become a great parent. Not to say only great parents spend time at home. Remember, it is your equation and you can allocate however you want for yourself. There is no comparison, or right or wrong.

To circle back to how I started the article, I decided to spend my time and energy in Barbados, while making no money, to spend more time with my family, and become a better uncle. My purpose at that time was my wonderful family. In the years following, I have started a successful public speaking career, and have a much better personal balance between family and career!

More : Pursue your dreams with these practical steps

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Marlo Clarke

34-years old, and born in beautiful Barbados. The presenter of the TEDx talks “How was your day today?” and “What now? What Next?”

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