Struggle With Valuing Non-Financial Things

How much would you pay for a memory? For those childhood days coming back in the afternoon, playing video games with friends, running around outside? For that trip to Europe that changed your life? How much would you pay to be healthy when you fall sick? What about for a piece of information that doubles your income?

These things

  • Experiences (memories)
  • Health (physical, mental)
  • Investing in yourself (education, learning)

These things don’t have a pricetag. Sure, some things like a trip can be reduced to $X – flights, hotels, food, travel, etc. But, I’m sure at the end of the day it was worth more than $X to you.

If they don’t have a pricetag that we can all agree on, how do you value them?

I’ve really been struggling with this question.

I took a week and a half long trip to the Tetons and Yellowstone summer 2021. It was incredible, I keep thinking about it. That memory is invaluable to me. I want to do something like that again at some point, but I’m struggling with actually valuing that experience related to other things in my life, mostly financially.

Maybe I haven’t had enough of these experiences, or the inverses of these things (being stuck at home, being sick, feeling stagnant) to be able to understand the value of them. Maybe I just don’t feel confident in myself enough to push for these things. Maybe I have been too focused on developing a mindset of saving and not spending money (defense) rather than how to grow money (offense).

So my question is, how do you learn to value these things? How would you objectively value these things?

Maybe we (i.e. I) need to come up with a new way to value these things. I think these all contribute significantly to you life, i.e. they are important, but we obviously can’t use the cost/money to value them.

Here’s my thought process:

If I were to come up with criteria, what are some ideas:

  • We can’t use money
    • Although it can at least be considered for the “cons” of the decision
    • Actually I don’t think it should be weighted very heavily, because valuing this as a con is literally the problem I’m trying to solve
    • That being said, I do think there’s a difference between an experience that costs $1000, versus one that costs $10,000
    • Ah, but this depends on how much money you have, so it’s more about a percentage of your savings/assets/net worth.
  • We can’t use things out of our control
  • These are fairly subjective things, we should attempt to make them objective to be easier to value/decide
  • For all of them
    • What is the downside of not doing this?
    • Will I regret not taking this opportunity?
    • Does this move me towards my long-term goals?
    • Does doing this fall in alignment with me being authentically myself?
    • Will this improve my day-to-day life?
  • Experiences
    • Will doing this put me outside my comfort zone?
  • Health
    • Will this make me feel better? Short-term? Long-term?
  • Education
    • Will learning this return me money? (allow me to make more money in the next 2-5 years?)
    • Is this something I’m genuinely curious in learning (i.e. in alignment with my authenticity)?

This is quickly becoming a very deep question… What should you choose to value in your life and how should you make decisions.

From this we can start to create things we should value in life, i.e. things to use as “north stars” for making decisions

  • Minimize regret
  • Expand your comfort zone
  • Focus on long term goals
  • Be authentic
  • Improve your day-to-day life
  • Offense is just as important as defense, maybe more important
    • Or something like (+10) + (-5) > (+2) + (-1)

I guess these are my hypotheses. It feels like we’re starting to get somewhere, but obviously now I just need to test them…

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