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What makes a deposit?
Over several posts I've shared how I've found it helpful to organize my time and effort through the lens of my desired identities. These include being a plant-predominant eater and a consistent runner to name a couple.
I then extended the analogy of a bank account to each of these identities to form what I call "life accounts", and shared how making "deposits" of time and effort results in compound interest in the areas of my life that I care most about. But what is a deposit and how is it different from other types of effort? Here’s where I’ve landed:
A deposit is any activity that, in isolation, proves you’re making progress toward your desired identity.
In contrast to deposits, we have the idea of earning, which I think of as any activity that supports making deposits, but on its own doesn’t actually increase the balance of your life accounts.
Let’s illustrate both with my Plant-Predominant Person account. The only activity that qualifies as a deposit in this account is eating plant-based meals. All other activities like researching recipes, shopping for ingredients, and even cooking meals all amount to earning.
Those earning activities result in filling my fridge with foods that make eating plant-based meals (deposits) easier, but if I don’t actually eat the food I prepared and instead eat Chick-fil-A every night, then I’m not getting any closer to being a plant-based person. It’s like working all week long and forgetting to collect a paycheck.
In the case of my Consistent Runner account, running is the only activity that qualifies as a deposit. The time and effort spent researching and updating running plans, stretching, and washing clothes all amounts to earning.
If I spend all my time on earning but don’t make deposits in the form of runs, I won’t actually make progress toward becoming a consistent runner. At best I’ll simply be a student of running.
This isn’t to say that earning isn’t important. Spending time on efforts that facilitate deposits is hugely valuable. This is effectively the crux of prioritizing effort by leverage. It’s a heck of a lot easier to eat plant-based meals when you have a fridge full of food ready to heat up. It’s much easier to set out on a run when you already know where you’re going and have your gear ready to go.
Getting clear on what my deposits are has helped me better plan my time while also helping me prioritize my earning activities. As an added bonus, ending the day by reflecting on the deposits I made has been a shot in the arm for keeping up momentum, and has left me feeling good about where I'm headed when my head hits the pillow.