Thinking About Thinking

Health, Wealth and Time

Posted in Philosophy, Pop Culture by larrycheng on May 18, 2009

Just finished an interesting lunch conversation with my colleagues, one of whom is going off to business school next year and traveling the world this summer.  I was commenting how I would probably have to wait until I retire to be able to do exactly what he’s doing this summer.  At this point in the conversation, one of my partners recounted the advice she got about the triangle of health, wealth and time.  The basic claim is that if you have any two of the three, you’re in pretty good shape.  For example:

  • When you’re young, you have your health and time, but no wealth.
  • When you’re in the middle of your career, you have health and wealth, but no time.
  • When you’re older, you have wealth and time, but probably not health.

At which point we all agreed that the last one might not be so great depending on the level of health, but it’s intriguing to think about nonetheless.  Perhaps even more interesting to think about is which two of the three you’d pick if you could, and whether your priorities line up against those two.  For example, if you prioritize health and time, but spend all of your time working, not exercising, eating poorly, etc. – that may not be internally consistent.  Anyways, interesting lunch conversation…

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10 Responses

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  1. Stephen J said, on May 18, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    A mentor of mine would always tell me that if an individual was not fulfilled with 2 out of 3 points of the triangle it causes a life to be out of balance. He had the opinion that you only needed 2 to be happy. It is a model I have carried with me since and it is amazing how often it proves out to be true.

    • larrycheng said, on May 18, 2009 at 2:21 pm

      That’s an interesting twist. I don’t know, I’d have trouble being happy without my health. But, that’s just me.

  2. Stephen J said, on May 18, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    But would you sacrifice a certain amount of health for accelerated wealth and more time, assuming this can be achieved, or for a goal knowing you can always get healthy again.

  3. […] Vi­ew o­r­i­gi­nal­ po­st her­e: He­al­t­h, We­al­t­h an­d T­i­me­ « T­hi&#17… […]

  4. Pete said, on May 19, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Hi Larry, as long as you’re getting philosophical, I’ll contribute this: health, wealth, and time are all competing for second place… first place is love, in all its forms.

    Life is nothing without meaningful relationships with family, friends, and God.


    • larrycheng said, on May 19, 2009 at 4:30 pm

      Hey Pete – I agree with you. I think the framework misses some things – God, relationships, etc. Maybe it should be a pentagon.

  5. Eric said, on May 19, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Larry–This model makes a lot of sense to me. The bet for most people is that they have their health when they get older, which often doesn’t pan out. (My father lost that bet, unfortunately.) The smart hedge is to make time in the middle years (which, if used for enrichment, probably protects your health). That means putting a premium on building equity from 30 to about 45. Success there, assuming some luck with health, puts a big bright star in the middle of the triangle. . .Anyway, great post. Thanks, Eric

    • larrycheng said, on May 19, 2009 at 11:27 pm

      Thanks for the feedback Eric. I’ve been fortunate to progress in my career relatively early – and I think the best benefit has not been about building equity earlier (though that is a plus), it’s about controlling my schedule earlier in my life which is a big plus for the family.

  6. Pas B said, on November 21, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    I lost a good deal of my health when I was young, to a couple of unfortunate injuries. It’s cost me “the best years” and kept me poor. If you don’t have health, you won’t be obtaining or keeping the other two.

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