I am currently sitting on a 16hr flight back into the US going from Johannesburg to Atlanta (and this was only about half of our total travel time when accounting for layovers and the other flights we have to take). This was a business trip, but we were able to use some time to explore the coast of South Africa. The country, the people, and food were all amazing. I got to experience the culture of South Africa as well as the hospitality. We also witnessed the poverty and the struggling that many of its citizens experience as part of their daily lives. I want to share more about this trip in the near future because there were so many experiences that were crammed into our relatively short stay.
On the trip down, I got the opportunity to meet an amazing individual who for the purpose of this post we will call Emily.
Emily, had just recently decided to quit her job and volunteer in a village in South Africa for 90 days and help the children… I had a million questions:
- “Why 90 days?”
- “What made you quit your job”
- “What are your plans next”
She was probably one of the best examples I have personally witnessed of someone taking control of their life and time.
Emily had a successful career in graphic design and advertising. She worked with world famous athletes in many different fields including tennis, golf, and several more. She is also an athlete herself and competed for one of her country’s national sports teams (I don’t want to get too specific and reveal her identity). In between graphic design contracts, she travels the world on adventures including backpacking through Australia, traveling throughout Asia and many other places. I learned all of this in just the short flight from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth.
As it turns out, she had recently decided it was time to do more with life and decided to volunteer for the next 90 days. She might have even considered doing it longer, but that was the limit of what she could do without a Visa. Afterwards, she is trying to pick up some more graphic design gigs in Australia now that they are opening their borders again.
The thing that has stuck with me the most about our discussion, was that she has had many amazing opportunities but did not get hung up on the past. She looks to what opportunities she can find in the future. While she isn’t necessarily in pursuit of FIRE, she embraces every bit of the Freedom aspect that we are trying to achieve in Financial Independence.
Note: I tried to talk her into starting a YouTube channel to document her journey and share with us how she is living her journey. Hopefully we will see something in the future.
Reflection on Time
During this trip, I spent some time reflecting on what has happened over the last couple of months and really the last couple of years. I also listened to Toto’s “Africa” a few too many times but I digress…
One thing that has really stuck in the back of my mind is how our perception of time changes throughout our lives. Sayings like:
- Time flies as you age
- Enjoy your kids when they are young because before you know it, they will be grown up
Why does it seem that the older we get, the faster time goes by? Also, why does it seem like some weeks/months/years go by faster than others?
To me, understanding this is important because “time” is our most valuable non-renewable asset. I touched on the subject in a couple of posts with regards to valuing time over money and understanding the cost of selling time for education. What is driving the way we experience time in our everyday life? Why does it seem that the older we get, the faster time goes by?
Relative Time Velocity
Let’s make up a phrase called “Relative Time Velocity”.
I know right, that is the result of drinking bourbon at 40,000 ft with 5 hrs of flight still to go (I am going to be pretty upset if find out that someone already coined that phrase when I land and have internet again…).
But seriously, Relative Time Velocity – the rate at which time is realized by an individual.
Before we go on, I need to tie everything together a little better: I just spent some time in South Africa. It feels like I was there at least twice as long as I actually was and I think it has a lot to do with the effects of how new experiences implant in our memory. My new friend Emily, is constantly pushing herself into new experiences and I believe that is also improving her relative time velocity as she lives her life to the fullest.
So why do we seem to experience time differently as we age?
- Is it because when you are young, the time frame you have to reference is shorter so any given period of time is a greater percentage of your available memory? Ex: One year to a 10 yr old kid is 10% of their life whereas one year to a 100 yr old is only 1% of their life.
- Is it because when you age and have settled into a routine. You coast through life in the monotony of the same thing every day. Time therefore “flies” because it is all a blur of the same thing. For a young kid, everything is new and experiences are vivid because they are experiencing things for the first time.
Theory in Time Velocity:
My personal observations are more along the lines of the second bullet point: New experiences create a more vibrant memories than drifting through the same daily routine day in and day out.
If you are living your version of an average week in a standard routine, nothing new is happening, just the daily grind. You have the same morning/lunch routine and the same dinner ritual. Maybe you change it up and go to one of the same restaurants that you normally frequent. You wake up and do it again…. No REAL change, just the same routine with minor twists. Perhaps this is where the year goes. If you are not creating new vivid memories, it’s a blur.
Perhaps the older we get, the better we are at refining our routines to the point that drift is almost inevitable. We need to break the routine. Habits are hard to break, they require intentionality and energy. Without intentionality, it becomes constant state of drift.
So how do you get in the routine of breaking routines, while keeping your good habits in place so that you keep your goals on track?
Breaking the Routine
In reflection, I think daily routines are important so I personally struggle with this question.
I stated in my new years resolution post for 2021 that I wanted to do one new thing per month to make that month memorable. I can honestly say that I have not lived up to that rule. There have been months looking back that are a blur but there are also months where it seemed like we were doing something new every weekend.
Part of the routine needs to be finding ways to break the routine which also helps eliminate drift and allow more time to live. This is what I believe is key to making the perception of time last longer. It is also the way you look back on life with no regrets.
One YouTube channel my wife and I have gotten into is Kara and Nate . They travel vlog on their adventures around the world. One thing I heard Nate say in a video was that he made his decisions based on what he would remember the most in 10 years. Pretty cool concept. What if we consciously made more decisions this way?
Yes, routine is a good thing to an extent and they help us to achieve many things in life but adding a new experience mindset to the routine might just be the key to helping extending your perception of time.