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The Trap Of Trading Time For Money

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Have you ever heard of the trap of trading time for money?

Trading time for money starts out innocently enough. You get paid a fair wage for a hard days work. Put in your time, do a good job, and get paid.

You might even get a raise now and then helping you feel like the system is working just fine.

trap of trading time

But when increases in wages don’t match increases in your cost of living a common tendency is to work more hours to try to make more money, just to get by. Or when you want more things another common tendency is to accumulate more debt.

Work longer, work harder… that is the path to success. It’s a pattern you’ve heard over and over but that’s the TRAP! A trap that has people burning out from over work or unhappy and disillusioned from not being able to have a life.

Unfortunately there is a finite number of hours each day so there is a ceiling to earnings in this scenario.

Maybe you look for a better paying job or go back to school in hopes of landing one after you graduate. Of course, once you take that next step you still fall into the same old trap. Only so many hours in a day so another, slightly higher ceiling of earnings.

Some people in jobs pause to reflect on this scenario and have that light bulb moment… I’ll quit my job and start a business!

Then, I’ll be able to set my wage and keep all of the money. It’ll be great. I’ll have the freedom to set my hours and make all the decisions. I’m awesome at what I do. Why not control my destiny. So, off you go into the world of business ownership.

That’s what I did years ago.

Trying to escape the trap of trading time for money?

I escaped one trap of trading time for money and landed right in another, albeit much bigger trap of trading time for money.

Yes, I now had the control and freedom to make the decisions, set the hours, and keep all the income. The problem was that I was now doing all the work in delivering my services to my clients and all the work needed to run the business. I was the marketer, sales person, bookkeeper and office administrator along with numerous other roles.

I thought I owned a business. In actuality, I now owned a job. I only got paid if I did the work. That, in and of itself, can be a full time job. Then, of course, there’s the time needed to run the business. So much for evenings and weekends.

What kind of existence is that?

I know the rationalization you might have. I had it too.

Any of these resonate?

  • I need to do things this way.
  • I’m bootstrapping the start up of my business.
  • My clients only trust me.
  • It’s just easier if I do it myself.
  • There’s no time to consider other options right now.
  • Once the business gets to a certain point, then I’ll slow down and make some changes.

Sure you will! We all say that.

“Work longer, work harder IS the trap!”

Unfortunately that day never comes. Why?

It’s because you get caught up in the day to day urgencies of working in your business, and trading time for money, and working on your business to keep things going. You’re heading in the opposite direction of the freedom and work-life balance that you seek.

That quickly becomes your unconscious work habit; your new normal. It’s just the way it is. The way it has to be. Everybody does it. But according to who? The influence of so many others can keep you in an existence you aren’t thrilled about. Unless you can see another path it becomes very easy to get and remain stuck there indefinitely.

So where exactly are you stuck, trading time for money?

Overwhelmed Plumber

I know a Plumber who followed this path in a similar manner to me. He was working for someone else, loving the work he does, but became frustrated with his income and all he felt he brought to the company. So he left to start his own business.

Great at what he does he quickly got clients who were thrilled with his work. In short order he was overbooked and working longer and longer hours. That meant the need to send invoices, do the books, continue marketing, provide quotes, arrange work, and everything else came late at night and on weekends.

Not much room for self care, for family, or to have a life. It took its toll.

He was being pressured to hire other plumbers, build a team, have an office, get multiple trucks, and stop doing all the work. Sounds like a good plan to stop trading time for money, right?

But he loves working the tools and isn’t so thrilled about growing a large business like that.

Does this story resonate in some way with you? When you come to that crossroad realization some key decisions are needed.

How To Escape The Trap Of Trading Time For Money!

The need to change

First and foremost is recognizing your unsustainable path and the need for change. Staying on an escalating path of trading time for money is not sustainable. It will eventually lead to burnout and a crash of personal health and well being.

It might also lead to problems at home from either never being there or bringing home the stress of the day; every day! That will likely lead to work performance declining, some unhappy clients, and an impact on your bottom line. Something has to change!

Stop should-ing all over yourself

You are being influenced by others. Maybe that’s family, friends, or colleagues. It could be business “gurus”, business “experts”, or other influential celebrities. Of course news, social media, and our society’s general views on grow, grow, grow or spend, spend, spend can play a huge part.

Finally, as a result of all that influence telling you how it should be, is your own inner voice validating it all and keeping you firmly on that path.

Their way may not be your way. Time to shift your mindset.

What do you really want?

Do you really love doing what you do and want to always work in your business, at least to some degree? Great. How can you shift your mindset to align with this way of working and adjust your business and your lifestyle to match it?

Do you have aspirations to grow your business into a larger organization or even and empire? Great. But it won’t happen with things as they are.

In either instance it’s time to establish your Ideal Life Compass and begin to live by it.

Play the long game

This is your life we’re talking about. When you begin with a focus on the long game you can see your path much more clearly. You can see the direction you need to head. Your tendency will be to say there just isn’t the time for such big picture reflection.

To that I say think about all the time you will waste following a path that is not aligned with you and your vision. Imagine how much harder it will be to change further down the road as you are that much more entrenched in trading time for money and continuing to work longer and longer hours.

Imagine the cost to your health and your relationship with your family by continuing to add that much stress day in day out. Especially when you burning out from over work or unhappy and disillusioned from not being able to have the life you really want.

There is another way. Your way!

So what’s your next step? Creating the change you want can be hard if you go it alone. Consider joining our One Wave Global peer mentor community. It could change your life!

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Brent Haydey is an experienced life and business coach in Edmonton, renowned for his calming, empathetic, and results-driven approach. With over 30 years of experience, he specializes in helping individuals and entrepreneurs find balance and success, blending teaching, mentoring, and coaching for impactful life changes.

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