More Than Money:
Redefining Your Worth

April 2015

What is net worth?

Most people are familiar with the term "net worth", but what does it actually mean? Isn't it mostly used to describe millionaires and other people of similar status? On the contrary, net worth is simply a term that refers to the total worth of someone's assets minus their liabilities. Assets include cash, investments, and other things with financial value that you own while liabilities refer to your debts1.

Redefining worth

However, what actually makes a person worthy? Surely there's more to someone than his or her financial stability and career accomplishments. In today's society, it's incredibly easy to forget that there is more to life than spending hours in the office. Instead of focusing solely on our professional endeavors, we should stop and think about our "self-worth".


What is "self worth"?

In the field of psychology, the term "self worth" or "self esteem" is used to describe a person's overall sense of wellbeing or personal value2. Essentially, it is how a person sees themselves and their contributions to the world around them. Unfortunately, factors that contribute to building a person"s "self worth" are frequently neglected in exchange for building "net worth". We often sacrifice our pursuit of happiness during our pursuit of accumulating wealth, even though research has shown that workaholism contributed to greater family conflict and a reduction in life enjoyment3. Just making money isn't enough - we have to take care of ourselves along with the people around us.


How can I improve my self worth without sacrificing my net worth?

Striking a balance between our work and personal lives is a struggle everyone knows all too well. How do you go to the gym when you get home at 9pm every night? How can you spend adequate time with your family if you have to work every weekend? Work-life balance is incredibly difficult, but fortunately, taking a few simple steps to integrate work with what makes you happy can go a long way.

Step 1:
Pay off your debt

Financially, this is self-explanatory. Always pay your debts/bills on time to avoid fees that may be associated with late payment. In your own life, take stock of all the things you "owe" the people you care about. Did you take your friend out for that birthday dinner? What about that time you told your parents you would help them with their grocery shopping? Paying off your personal debts and fulfilling your promises don't only result in satisfaction - they also improve your relationships with your loved ones. When you reduce interpersonal conflict, your performance at work improves as well3.

Step 2:
Invest in causes you care about

An easy way to be on top of your interests is to invest in organizations or causes that you feel strongly about4. For example, if your interest lies in conserving the environment, you may consider seeking career opportunities or just helping out when you can in a company that plants and harvests lumber trees in a sustainable way. On the other hand, if your dreams lie in becoming the next culinary phenomenon, you want to consider setting up a small cafe or working in one. No dream is too small or too silly. Putting your money into causes that are important to you not only ensures that you work harder for them to succeed; they also give you fulfillment on a personal level.

The journey to balance

Building your net worth and self worth aren't things that happen instantly. It may take months or even years of effort to get where you want to be. Working towards balance (pun intended) is a continuous journey, and sometimes it might seem easier to revert to your previously unbalanced lifestyle. It is important to strive constantly while remaining optimistic, as net worth on its own is incomplete without its counterpart.

1., "6 Tips For Increasing Your Net Worth", March 14, 2013.
2., "What is self-esteem?", undated.
3. The Psychologist-Manager Journal, "The Impact of Workaholism on Work-Family Conflict, Job Satisfaction, and Perception of Leisure Activities", 2008.
4., "What is socially responsible investing?", undated.