Maybe you’ve done a time study at work. Or you’ve said to yourself, “I’m only going to work on the yard for an hour, then take the kids to the beach.” Or you set a goal to work out a few times a week. Consciously or unconsciously, we often are evaluating the return on investment (ROI) for our time.

The happiest and most fulfilled people do this on purpose, regularly. They look at three major domains to decide if they are getting what they want out of life: career, relationships, and personal development.

Evaluating Your Career

Five years ago I left my job at a community college. I loved the job and my boss was amazing. So why did I leave? My counseling practice was growing and so was my consulting and podcast. I knew that the opportunity in my business was too great to let it pass by. The ROI for building a business that matched my values was the better gamble than continuing to work for someone else.

Throughout my career, I’ve done this in little ways and big. For example, this is my last Record-Eagle column. Not because I don’t like it, but because my life is headed in a new direction after selling my practice.

How are you looking at the ROI in what you do in your career?

Put the ‘Relate’ Back in Relationships

Some people like to be the sounding board for their friends. They’re the informal therapist in the relationship. Other people set boundaries around friendships. A while back, I had a friend that was going through a divorce and he was blaming everything on his soon-to-be ex-wife. Nothing was his fault and he had no part in the relationship. I realized that I spent as much time de-briefing with my wife after the conversations as I did in them. It was a very one-sided relationship.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be compassionate, loving, and supportive of a friend. But real friendships balance out over time. The same is true with our partners. It’s rarely equal, but we should be able to say, “I’m better because of this relationship.”

How are you setting boundaries and making strong relationships?

Everyone Else Comes First

Are you a person who always puts others first? In some ways this can be a great trait. Or it can come from devaluing yourself and thinking that others have more worth. Fulfillment comes when we can build into ourselves and then have so much happiness that others get the extra.

Speaking as a parent of little ones, this is incredibly hard. But when we identify a few core needs that are “non-negotiables,” this gets easier. It could be working out, meditation, or time away that allows you to work on yourself. For me it has been a guided retreat and pushing myself to work out a little bit more.

What are you doing to work on yourself?

It’s easy to just keep doing what you’re doing, but that doesn’t allow you to ask, “Where do I want to go?” I want to encourage you to step back and look at the ROI in your career decisions, relationships, and personal development.

Joe Sanok is a business consultant and podcaster. Follow his work at www.PracticeofthePractice.com where he writes and speaks about building a business that matters for your life and the world.