To Pay Or Not To Pay (The Story Behind It All: Part 3)

This is part 3 in a series. "The Story Behind It All" introduces the stories leading up to the creation of the new BeingBreath offering, which will be shared in just under 2 weeks from now. I'm taking you along the process and introducing some new contemplations along the way! 

To read more about this series and Part 1, CLICK HERE. To read Part 2, CLICK HERE.

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Part 3: To Pay Or Not To Pay

There are many ways to learn.

There are the unplanned ways: Touch a hot stove and learn that it burns. Put your foot in your mouth and learn how embarrassment feels.

And then there are those that we seek out.

Here are three different (true) scenarios:

(my "been-there, done-that" examples)

I. I scrolled through the offer. I was mildly interested - it had those buzzwords that captured my attention: "mindfulness", "build your business", "practical advice". And then, in bold text, FREE.

Free? Heck yeah I'm in. 'Click'. 'Purchase'. 'Save File As....'

And into the digital abyss it went.

II. Then there was THAT class. That power of breath class. That one that sounded immensely valuable, right up my alley. The one that made every cell in my body jump up and down. The one that cost more than I'd ever dreamed of spending on a 6-week course. It kept me up at night. Eventually, I clicked 'purchase'. (Cue immediate excitement and regret.)

For the next 6-weeks, there were times when I didn't feel like listening in at 8:00 at night. There were other things I had to get done...or sometimes, I just wanted to crawl into bed. But all it took was remembering how much I'd paid for the privilege of listening in that night to get me to class on time. (I never regretted it.)

III. "Music: Creativity To My Ears". Sounds delightful, no? It was taught online by a professor at Stanford and included interviews with artists I'd admired. And, like the first course, it was FREE. I figured, "why not"...and signed up.

The first week's assignment drew me in. It gave me a reason to creatively play. (It was an ASSIGNMENT. I had to!)

Within 7 days, I went from auditing the class to signing up for full certification, and committing nearly 4 hours a week (on a free class that I took on a whim) to learning and completing the assignments. I still feel it was one of the most valuable and productive online courses I've ever taken.

We all feel a longing to know something, to understand something. How and why we go about doing so (beyond the basic Google search) makes a big difference in the results of those efforts.

Often, we are asked for an exchange of energy - for a monetary contribution for the knowledge given. And the question arises: I long to know this, but what is it worth?

Do I pay or do I not pay?

In fact, that question can be taken even beyond what we want to learn. It can be asked of anything we yearn for - a couch, a car, a candy bar...

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There are two questions that are important to examine beyond the "pay or not" conundrum. Those are:

What is my investment?


What is my return?

(Don't worry. This won't turn into some academic economics discussion. I'd be more lost than you.)

Your INVESTMENT is what you put into it to get it, and it isn't just monetary. It is time, energy, and even mental space. 

Your RETURN is what you get for investing that energy (money, time, etc).

So your investment for the couch might be $500 and a few hours of strenuous labor getting it into your house. Your return is a soft place to crash on when you are done, years of a comfortable place for you and guests to rest, a cushions that safely store your loose change and cracker crumbs.

Your investment for a course might be $200, a weekly commitment of 2 teaching hours, and practice time outside of that. Your return might be insights into your business or health, and practical changes that you make in your life that bring you closer to how you want to feel and be in the world. (Or it might be far less than that.)

So how does the investment relate to the return? (That is, how does what we put into something relate to what we get out of it?)

What I've learned is that the most powerful returns come from situations where the investment is closer to, if not in, your discomfort zone.

If investment is on a scale from sitting on your couch eating bonbons to running a marathon (assuming you are NOT a runner), then the most powerful returns have to involve you at least getting out and walking a mile.

Remember, investment doesn't have to be just financial. I've spent WEEKS visiting donation stores, antique stores, and even the give-and-take at the recycling center to find just the right piece at the right price. I might get an amazing price, but the time investment (and admittedly, hours spent dreaming of it) was quite high. 

I've also spent just a few dollars on online classes that have asked me to examine fears I've held since childhood. I invested a lot of emotional energy, and walked away with a huge return of flowing creativity and vitality.

I've also learned that the most powerful returns are those that are most closely aligned with your deepest values.

Say you believe in a healthy local economy and are concerned about environmental destruction. You could purchase an apple for $1 at your local chain grocery store and an apple for $1 at your farmer's market from the person who grows them a few towns over. You invested the same. But because the apple from the farmer's market supports your local economy and didn't take several trucks to get it to you, IF you actually pay attention, you will FEEL better about eating it. The return on investment will be greater.

The same goes with a class or learning experience. Someone taking a business class because they were required to by their company will get a much different return than a person taking that same class because they are wanting to learn how to develop a business around their life-long passion. Both invested the same, but the passionate entrepreneur gains a higher return because the information resonates with his deepest drives and values.

Think back to those first three examples I gave.

In the first, the investment was quite low. (It was equivalent to me sitting on the couch and eating those delicious bonbons.) No monetary investment, just click and save. I was interested in the topic, but not enough to move me to find the file after I'd downloaded it. I had no motivation to complete it, which meant I promptly forgot about it. The return? Nada.

In the second example, the investment was quite high. (Equivalent to me running 3 miles.) Very high monetary investment, and a time commitment not only in the class lectures, but in the practices for the class. Because of this, I gave more attention to the class (in practical terms and in mental awareness). The return was high because it aligned very closely with my deep values of integrating breath awareness into daily life. 

In the third example, the initial investment was low. (Equivalent to getting up off of the couch to go refill the bonbon tray.) But after it began, I found the return to be immensely high because of how closely it aligned with my deeper values (actually awakening some values I'd forgotten about). Interestingly, my investment increased because of the perceived value of return....which made the actual return even higher.

In relation to my upcoming offering, I invite you to just spend a few moments contemplating your deepest values surrounding your daily life. (Perhaps even write down your thoughts.)

What is truly important to you?

How do you want your life to FEEL?

What do you want to feel like when you wake in the morning, and when you snuggle into bed at night? 

When you have an answer, ask the questions again. Write your new answers. Then ask the questions again. (This helps get beyond those conditioned first responses.) This process will not only help you to decide on my offer, but also to help you make decisions in other investments.

Do you pay or not? 

What is your actual investment? Is it "eh" or "WHOA!"? Bonbons or marathon?

What is your perceived return? How does that return (what you are getting out of it) match with your deeper values? 

I invite you into contemplation of how and where you are spending your time, money, and mental energy (i.e. where your thoughts go during the day).

May you find harmony in it all.

The Story So Far

Part 1: Going Groundless was a reminder that one small step in the vastness of our uncertainties can make all the difference.

Part 2: Integration was a invitation to integrate learning with the mundane, daily-doings of your life.

Part 4 of The Story Behind It All will be shared on Monday, June 9, 2014.

A gentle reminder: If you are feeling moved by these stories, I encourage you to sign up for the BeingBreath newsletter. That way, you don't have to think about stopping back at the blog - these inspiring stories will appear right in your inbox!  Sign up by CLICKING HERE.