Money has become an indispensable part of our lives. We measure success in terms of money, we compare projects and opportunities based on their ROI (return on investment) and most of our decisions are made from an economic point of view. But is money the ultimate measuring system?

Of course not. You have to know where money fails as a means of measuring, and keep those areas of failure in mind when making decisions, comparing opportunities and evaluating degrees of success.

Money is irrelevant when considering important aspects of our lives which aren’t measured by quantity, but rather by quality. To name a few:

Health – Our bodies are complex systems. We can measure our blood pressure or the calories we consume, but those are only small fractions of the overall picture we call “health” or “wellness.”

People are aware that money cannot buy health, so their spending on health is often emotion-driven. The pharmaceutical industry is the second richest in the world, surpassed only by the banking industry. Charitable donations are largely based on emotion, rather than on rational strategies for long-term prosperity.

Happiness – Everyone has heard the old saying, “Money cannot buy you happiness.” There are recent scientific researches that claim it actually can, but only for a very short time. For example, if you bought a very expensive car, that could make you feel happy – but only for a week, maybe as much as a month. Then the happy feelings would go away, and you would start thinking of your car as just an object, something you have always had.

Risks – Scientists (and businesses) have made enormous efforts to measure risk in a quantitative way. However, many risks (most of them qualitative) remain hidden and unseen.

Knowledge – You could talk about the great number of books you have read, but that would not tell others anything about what you’ve understood (correctly) from those books. And ask yourself this: Are the world’s smartest people also the richest?

Creativity – Can you measure or rank creativity?

Experience –   As you invest more and more time doing something, in most cases you improve, doing it better and faster (up to a certain point). Your experience in dealing with a particular kind of problem may help you overcome similar problems.

Here are a couple of things we typically measure in terms of quantities; I think you’ll agree that in both cases, though, quality is more important than quantity.

Time – We are all limited in time. (In space, too, physicists like Thomas might say.) Most of us work roughly the same number of hours in a day or week or year – so why the hell are there such enormous differences in our paychecks?

Networking – We can count the number of friends and connections we have, but in the end, it’s the quality of our relationships that counts.

Conclusion: Your unmeasurable assets are as important as your material, measurable ones (perhaps far more important).  Do not let a lack of instant gratification stop you from investing time, money and effort in them.

Some questions for you:

  • What is your definition of non-material wealth?
  • What would a top-quality life experience look like?

Can you think of other unmeasurable assets?