Value Add to Your Life

Are you adding value to your life or are you just adding stuff? This is a new question for me and a way to evaluate purchases along with almost all decisions.

New Year’s is always a good time to take stock and reset your priorities. That’s exactly what I did to start this year and it was a wake up call. I had gone another year and had accumulated another batch of stuff that was just cluttering my life.

The week between Christmas and new Year’s Eve, I watched the documentary Minimalism, by Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn. It’s not a concept that I haven’t been working on, but it reinforced the urgency to take a look at what I was adding to my life. The main question I took away a from the documentary was “Am I adding value with this addition?”

While most people will take this towards a purchasing decision, I want to take it a step further. I want to be able to answer that question positively with all decisions in life.

Value Added For Your Life

Value added is not a term Josh And Ryan have coined. It’s a manufacturing term that’s been around for decades. Lean manufacturing takes a hard look at adding value. If a process does not add value, it needs to be stripped away. While you can’t take away all non value added activities, the ideal process should have no waste or non-value added activities.

Imagine if you could take this concept into your life. If you stripped away all of the non-value added events, purchases and relationships in your life.  You could completely focus on the events, purchases and relationships that matter most. The ones that add value.

This doesn’t mean you can’t watch TV or listen to music. If that makes you happy and adds value to your life, then do it. But if you think you can buy stuff or do stuff or be friends with people who don’t care about you, and that will make you happy, then you’re wrong. If something is not bringing value to your life, work hard to eliminate it.

Don’t go overboard and just start throwing stuff and relationships away. Evaluate them. Also, there are always necessary non-value added activities in all processes and in life. You’re going to have to go to some events you don’t want to attend and interact with people that don’t add value. That’s life. But when you have control over your decisions, make sure you ask “is this adding value to my life”. It’s a great litmus test for all decisions.