Assets of Life

Free will is a balancing act

For many years I’ve been using an idea of the Assets of Life to help make decisions. If I’m benefitting should others be able to as well?

I can’t tell everyone individually about the Assets of Life without going on the road as a public speaker and I’m not interested in that. Perhaps an article might be the answer? Let’s decide.

Should I write the article?

So what of my Assets could I lose if I decide to write an article?

Time The obvious and definite one. All the time I spend writing won’t be returned. But how long will it take? A day? A week? A Month?

Mental Energy Even while not writing I’m likely to be thinking about it. Would I stop enjoying the cinema because I can’t concentrate? Would I be too shattered to see friends?

Family Life Are my children at a crucial stage in their development and need all my attention? While I’m writing might they be going backwards so their time asset is lost too instead of just mine? Would I be better off waiting until they leave home?

Respect I write my article and everyone laughs at it. Can I handle the loss of respect or damage to reputation?

What assets might I gain?

Peace of Mind I’ve been thinking about this idea for ages, once it’s written I don’t ever have to consider it again.

Reputation I become “Ed Moore, author of ‘Assets of Life’”. I’m invited to functions, I give talks and speeches, people know who I am. (But do I want that loss of privacy? Might this actually be a loss?)

Experience I’ve not written many articles, certainly never a self-help guide. What’s it like? I will at least know.

The final decision in such matters is up to an individual. Do you like risk? Do you want fame? Are there other losses you might consider? You make the decision but at least this way you try and get a clear picture of what assets you’re giving up and what assets you could gain.

In my case I want the peace of mind and the experience. I don’t mind if it doesn’t make money and I don’t mind if people ignore me. I’ll write it.

Decisions such as the one above are what the Assets of Life are all about. Your life is made up of assets of a myriad of forms and how you manage them is the key to your happiness today and for the rest of your life. The assets you have, the assets you can gain or lose and the assets you need must be balanced.

So what are the Assets of Life?

When people talk about assets they’re usually talking about financial assets such as money, investments, property and pension pots but this simplistic view misses most of the assets that people have or need in life.

To manage your Assets of Life you need to understand the tangible assets you have and need but also the intangible assets that can be even more important.

What are tangible assets?

Time is the principle tangible asset you have but it’s relative and based on current circumstance:

  • How long you have to live
  • How long left of holiday
  • How long until train reaches the station
  • How long until match starts (or ends)

The next tangible asset group consists of the things I own, that I’ve bought or had given to me. They can range from a large and solid item such as a house to a tiny and transitory item such as a ripe tomato in the fridge.

Money is the last tangible asset and the one I suspect you thought I’d start with. Like time it is relative; how much money do you have? How much right now in your pocket? What could you get your hands on in a few days? What’s your earning capability over your lifetime? What currency do you need?

I left it until last because in reality it’s not very useful except for one reason, it allows you to quickly swap it for a different asset of more use, but I’ll leave that part for a moment.

What are intangible assets?

Intangible assets or perhaps ‘soft’ assets come in many varieties yet can be difficult to spot. Some of them that I use are:

Health An easy one to identify but can be hard to quantify. I have no major illnesses but my leg aches so how should my health be rated? I can run a marathon but I have a cold. My eyesight is bad but I own glasses.

Physical Ability Can I run up the stairs if I need to? Can I carry my son to bed? Can I play tennis for two hours without collapsing? What weight can I bench press? Can I carry in the log basket?

Skills Do I have a degree? Was it in a subject I still need? Did I learn sciences or arts? Do I still try and learn new skills? Do I watch natural history programs? Do I learn on the job? Do I know how the dishwasher works?

Friends Do I have close friends? Many of them? Just a best friend? Will they help me when I’m in trouble? Can I get a game of tennis this week? My wife is my best friend, is she happy?

Family Are my parents still alive and do I see them? What about siblings, children, aunts, uncles, cousins. Do we all get on? Do we enjoy family visits?

Neighbourhood How friendly are your neighbours? Does the litter get picked up? Do they wave as they go? Will they take in a parcel for you? (Would you take one in for them? You’re a neighbor too).

Looks How beautiful or handsome are you?

Happiness Am I happy? How happy? Happy in general? Just at this moment? Perhaps this should be considered the Master Asset!

Now some more exotic ones:

Respect How am I liked? Do people listen when I speak? Can I be trusted to make good decisions? Would I be recommended as someone to talk to about a particular subject?

Self respect How much do you like yourself? All the time?

Memories Do I have a lot of memories to look back on? How well can I hold on to them!

Experience Tied to skills — have I been in this situation before? Can I use it again in the future? Can I apply experience in other fields to this problem?

Goodwill Have I done favours for others in the past? Who did I help? Will they help me in the future?

Confidence Can you walk into a room of strangers and not feel embarrassed? Would you start your own company rather than keep taking a salary?

Well-being Feeling content? Quietly satisfied or tip top?

Judgement Can you make a decision and see it through?

Companionship Where is everyone?

Now you can more clearly see your assets you need to start understanding them and the real goal — to balance and maximize them.

The key to using your Assets of Life is to understand what assets you have, what you need and that you’ll probably need to swap assets to get the right balance. Getting the wrong balance can be very destructive, as can bad swaps. But get them right and things will be ok.

The first important understanding about your Assets of Life is they have a Life of their own. You need to look after them!

  • Some assets such as Time are constantly diminishing.
  • Other assets such as Experience are constantly increasing.
  • Health assets diminish slowly, but by bad luck or misfortune can have precipitous declines.
  • Physical assets increase as you grow up and go down as you age, but exercise and avoiding the burgers can slow the rate of loss.
  • Your house asset can go up in value or down if you don’t maintain it.
  • Money assets can swing like a rollercoaster from payday to payday.

Now you’re tending your assets (or at least watching what they are up to) you can start swapping them. This is unavoidable and life enhancing whether each swap be mundane or extraordinary. You’ll also find it more usual that you swap multipe assets at the same time!

The best way to understand this is to work through some examples where the Assets of Life can help you make decisions or understand what should be done (or not done).

I’m hungry

So you need some food. You’ll likely need to buy it so exchange some money for food. But you’ll also need to exchange time for money (as work). You’ll also need to use up time assets to get the food and cook it.

In exchange you’ll get a ‘full’ contentment asset (at least for a while) and a pleasure asset from the taste. But eat with a friend or family and you’ll also get companionship assets and happiness assets. Perhaps even experience assets as they share a story. Make it a really good meal and you’ll get a Memory asset too which will last much longer than the simple act of eating.

How do you balance your assets at work?

Most people need to earn money to pay to live. Generally it takes time to work at earning money so the basic swap of assets is that you give up time assets to receive money assets. But what other swaps you should make within this basic equation?

One calculation you should make is how much you can earn for every hour of time asset lost. This can be based on many things; your abilities, your drive, dedication but importantly your skills and experience. For skills read education, both full time and while at work. Should you go to university? You’ll lose three years of time assets and money assets as well for fees. Will you earn this back? Will your new skills assets allow your time assets to be swapped for more money?

Another consideration is how much you will enjoy your work. Would you swap your time assets for less pay if you also enjoy your work? Would you do a job you hate if it pays well? Would you take a less well-paid job if you got the chance to live abroad, swapping money assets for experience assets?

Lastly consider longevity. Some people study for a long time for a career that may be relatively short and not well paid. You’d have to really love this work to balance the happiness assets you receive against the assets you give up. But would you take a well-paid job with poor conditions if you knew it was only temporary? Could the extra money assets you receive and the relatively small time assets lost balance up the experience assets you suffer?

How best can you help your children?

Children start life with a maximum amount of time assets, some health assets and almost no others. As a parent it’s your job to help them balance this up.

Start by providing food, warmth and a safe environment and continue doing so for eighteen years.

But what other assets would benefit your child? There are many intangible assets that you should give and much support while a child creates their own assets. These include positive experiences, confidence, knowledge and understanding of the world. A willingness to inquire is an asset, as are physical skills. You can help promote their health assets by not smoking and feeding healthy food. Encourage reading and self discipline.

Unfortunately the list of assets you can help your child gain is endless. Just do your best.

Growing Old

Growing old is hard. Your time assets are running out. You may be losing your health assets and your physical capability assets. What assets do you need to have accumulated to make old age bearable and hopefully pleasurable?

Money assets is one option; with money help can be bought in, experiences such as cruises paid for and medical help brought in. Family is another assets that can support you. Spouses, children you may have, grandchildren even can bring happiness and practical help if you age. Lastly friendships can also bring practical help, whether for companionship or aid. The good thing about these assets is they are not exclusive; if you can have family, friends AND money then you have a really good asset mix. But what else is useful?

Old age is a time for reflection on the life you’ve had and experiences you’ve accumulated. Hopefully you’ve built up a good set of experience assets to look back on, otherwise reflecting is not going to be very rewarding.

Go to the gym or mow the lawn?

What does going to a gym cost in terms of your Assets? Lets say it costs £50 a month to be a gym member and you drive there in 15 minutes. So if you earn £10 an hour you give up 5 hours of your time asset each month to be allowed to go to the gym, plus 30 minutes of your time asset each trip to get there and back. So an hour a week in the gym will lose you 12 hours or so each month. In the meantime the lawn still needs mowing, if you pay someone to mow the lawn for you that may cost £20, which again takes 2 hours of time asset at work to pay for it.

I mow the lawn, it loses me less assets. If you still want to go to the gym think carefully about what assets you are getting for the extra assets you are losing.

When do you have enough money?

I use up my time asset working to earn money. I use the money I make to buy goods and services I need or want in my life from food, to a house to holidays and clothes. You have enough money when you break the asset chain from Time -> Money -> Goods.

Until this point is reached you always have to think; “how much of my time will I have to give up to buy this item?” When you have enough money the question isn’t necessary. Rich people still work but it’s because they want to, not because they have to.

Should I smoke?

People find smoking pleasurable, but is it that pleasurable?

Smoking takes an average of ten years off your time asset as you die early. It lowers your health asset. It lowers your physical ability asset. You have to pay for the cigarettes so you lose more time asset working to earn the money to buy them. Your clothes smell from the smoke and your looks asset is reduced by yellow teeth.

Seriously, you need to ask this?

What is courtesy?

Courtesy is usually seen as being nice to people, but it can be phrased more clearly in terms of the Assets of Life. By this definition courtesy is trying not to take assets from someone unnecessarily, even when you’re allowed to.

Think of a pedestrian crossing; I want to cross the road and I’m at the crossing but there’s a car coming. The law says she must stop so I start walking across and she does stop. By this action I’ve taken some of her time asset, I’m allowed to by law but I still would prefer not to have done so. What do I do? I look and nod a thank you as I cross. I’ve still taken her time asset but instead have given her an intangible asset of my appreciation and thanks, which can give the driver a feeling of well-being. It may not be a perfect swap but I’ve made an effort to give back an asset to her benefit, in exchange for one she had to give to me.

What is crime?

With Assets of Life crime becomes quite simple; it’s a crime when someone takes an asset they had no right to take. Robbed? They took your goods assets. Attacked? They took your health asset and time asset (for recovery), well being and confidence assets.

In exchange for taking an asset convicted criminals are made to lose assets of their own; time assets if in prison, money if a fine, reputation and likely salary prospects just by being convicted. If the aim is not to punish a person but to re-educate though the emphasis must be on providing the person with assets that will make it less likely they’ll go back to their old ways. Teach a skill they can use to earn money, counseling to provide self-esteem or life skills to make better decisions. Getting a person to stop taking assets makes society as a whole better, which is an asset for us all.

Why watch TV?

You’re giving up your precious time asset, what are you getting in return? Recharged energy assets for weary bodies and minds? (watching TV uses less energy than staring at a wall), knowledge assets by watching factual programs, friendship group assets by watching the same program for discussion later, excitement assets by watching sport? You decide.

Should you buy people presents?

Standard logic says you shouldn’t buy people assets. Studies show that people value presents at less than the cost of purchasing them, so why do we still do it? The Assets of Life give a reason why — if done properly.

The present itself has a money asset value, but other intangible assets are also given along with the present itself. The present giver has given up money to buy the item or time to make it, but they’ve also given up time and thinking assets deciding what would be a good present. What you give therefore is ‘the knowledge that I care’ which the recipient should store as an asset of well-being.

A bad gift of course can also be read as ‘I don’t care’ so no intangible asset comes along with the present. Choose well.

Why be a good neighbour?

People can and do put their own assets first but that does not mean they don’t look after their neighbours and the vulnerable in society. Helping others gives us the asset of feeling good about ourselves. Helping others makes the society around us better and happier which is also an asset for us individually. Selfishness in a person risks losing society as an asset.

As it’s hard to remember reams of information (and you shouldn’t have to give up unnecessary time and focus assets to do so!) here’s a quick summary:

  1. Your life is made up of assets
  2. Some you choose, some you cannot
  3. Assets can be tangible, most are intangible
  4. Assets can be created or given
  5. Assets can be lost, stolen or destroyed
  6. Assets can be exchanged, directly or indirectly
  7. Your actions change your assets
  8. Your assets change naturally
  9. People value assets differently
  10. Keep balancing your assets to be happy

I hope this concept helps you. There are many more examples where the idea of the Assets of Life can help you make decisions, understand why people do what they do and improve your circumstances. Everyone is different though; skills, health, family, friends, money, age and so on. You still have to make the choices.

Father, husband, work in technology, dabble in secularism.