I have been stumbling through this post for a few months now. I have been slowly adding to it trying to get my thoughts into words… I am sitting here as we approach a new year and it feels especially real because this topic is one of the things that I am personally trying to work through. We need to understand that money is nothing and time is everything.
How do we change our mindset to value time more?
Let’s do a quick exercise:
Take a brief meditation minute. No distractions, just a quiet place where you can be with your thoughts. Ok ready? What is important to you in life?
- Spending time with your family and friends…
- Experiences and traveling the world…
- Changing the world to be a better place…
Think hard about this…. What brings you great joy…. What are the things you know you want to do before you leave this world…. Give yourself at least 60 seconds uninterrupted…
Ok so what did your come up with?
Ideally you said “exactly what I am doing with my life right now”. In that case, congratulations! You should share the process that got you to that point in the comments below so that we can all learn from you.
For the rest of us…
We understand what we think is important to us, but in truth, our ideals aren’t matching reality. There is a saying that goes:
“Don’t tell me where your priorities are… Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are” – James W. Frick
I like to think of it more in the terms of:
“Don’t tell me where your priorities are… Show me where you spend your TIME and I’ll tell you what they are “
Vicki Robins book, Your Money or Your Life, equates money to Life energy. This is because if you are working for money, then you are quite literally trading your time for money.
What are Our Priorities?
There are many things that we think are important to us, but the reality is that we spend only a fraction of our time on them. We spend so much of our life going through the steps that we are told we need to do in order to have a “great” future:
- We go to school as children to get the education
- So that that we can go to college or extended learning
- So that we can specialize our education and skills
- So that we can get a “good job”
- So that we can put in the hours and make the money
- So that we can “afford” everything we deserve in life
- Which often means spending to the point that you cannot keep up
- Which causes us to put in more hours to pay the bills or go into debt
- Which drives us to spend more money to feel better about our life
- Which causes us to work more hours and go into deeper debt
- Until we drift through life wasting our best years…
This is the never-ending cycle that many people in America are blindly looping back through every day. We spend the majority of our time chasing money and careers in order to stay afloat with bloated lifestyles… All of this despite understanding that what is really important to us is Family…Friends…Adventure………………………. those things generally only get attention during the magical couple of weeks of vacation that our jobs allow us to take.
If someone did a study of your time and how it was allocated, would it align with what you say is important, or would they come to the conclusion that the most important thing to you is…. your Job… buying fancy toys and junk…. Spending time with people that you don’t really like … putting off all of your true desires to a later date…
Haha what a freaking downer of a blog post.
So Now What?
The point is to not to paint life in such a hopeless light. The point is to understand what your time trajectory is and where you want it to be. Small changes now can make mountains of difference in the future. The key is to recognize, and course correct early.
Once you make the connection that time is truly your most precious resource, then how do you know if you are using it correctly? Perhaps you could learn from people that are close to the end of their journey. Those that no longer care what other people think can give honest advice. I have read through multiple surveys on life regret and they generally get the same results:
- I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
- I wish I had the courage to express my feelings
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
- I wish that I had let myself be happier
Are you on trajectory to have these same regrets???
Your life is not a tool to help you make money, money is a tool to help you live your life. Don’t waste your life chasing a career you don’t really want or throwing your hard-earned money on junk. Use your career and money to support the life you want. If you reflect on your current situation and realize you are wasting too much of your time to support a bloated lifestyle.
It is time to pivot.
Dave Ramsey routinely says you can do three things with Money: Spend, Save & Give
I would argue that there are really only three things you can do with your time:
Your Time=(Want to Do)+(Have to Do)+(Drift)
Want to Do: These are all of the things that you identified in your meditation at the beginning. They bring joy/happiness/meaning to your life. Items that you want to look back on during your golden years and say I have no regrets because I did_____. The things that your family and friend will remember you for.
Have to Do: Aspects that enable you to maintain your life necessities. Your job, Life requirements, Sleep, etc. You may love your job, and that’s great, but do you love it more than your list of “Want to’s”? If so, you are a very lucky person.
You could also throw in other items like fitness, home repairs, yardwork etc into this list. These are things you may, or may not, enjoy but either way they will require some amount of your time (either by you doing them or paying someone else to do them).
Drift: Items that happen to you by lack of attention, laziness, and lack of effort. Bing watching Netflix, mindlessly swiping though social media, time wasters that add no value to your life or sense of personal worth. They could also include bad habits that you cannot seem to break.
Understanding that time is your most precious resource you must strive to:
Drift, at a fundamental level, is letting life happen to you instead of you happening to life. Realizing that time is finite is a critical first step because then you can see the cost of allowing it to waste away. This does not mean you can never have a lazy morning or watch a movie. It means you are making a conscious decision on what you spend your time on.
Optimize what you “Have to do”
Are you working extra hours that you do not have to? Are you spending 120% of your paycheck every month with only a pile of junk and restaurant receipts to show for it (forcing you to work more to pay for it)? Do your job, do it well, or even better, do it the best…and get out. Do not get sucked into the long hours of working for the sake of working. Stop wasting your time.
What about other Have to’s? I have found that if you can couple a few things together so that you can multi-task, it can be unbelievably productive and rewarding:
- Outdoor walk listening to podcasts – Gets me outside, exercise, and personal growth
- Hiking with the kids – Gets me outside, exercise, and family time
Maximize what you “Want to do”
Set goals – specific time-based goals, and stick to them. As you eliminate drift and optimize your “have to’s”, you are going to have time on your hands. Make a plan. What are the top things that you want to accomplish? Setup small steps that lead you in that direction. James Clear wrote an awesome book called Atomic Habits. I recommend picking it up or getting the audio book (this is a good one to listen to while doing a hike 😉). Create small habits that build upon themselves and push you toward your goals:
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.” – Atomic Habits by James Clear
This blog is easy to write and hard to follow. I know, I am working on it myself. I used to struggle with drift but we have cut Netflix and other time wasters out (I also deleted my personal social media accounts over 6 years ago). I have replaced that time with reading/podcasts/audio books etc which were a great habits to have going into 2020.….. BUT the “have to’s” have personally been a struggle. I definitely fall into the “have to” loop of working around the clock. Even as I write this, I have 2 tasks that I know I need to do for work and it is 5:30 AM on a Saturday morning…
I got a stark reminder from a co-worker yesterday. I made the comment “I cannot wait for this year to be over” quickly followed by him saying “why would you wish your life away like that?”…
He was 100% fucking right. Why would I ever wish precious time away????
We are, where we are, right now and we cannot change what got us here but we can change how we carry it forward.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb
We need to start choosing our future and we need to choose it now!
- Ask yourself why am I not maximizing my “want to’s”?
- How can I optimize my “have to’s”?
- What drift do I have in my life, and how can I get rid of it now?!
I invite you to join me in a 30 day challenge and come back in the beginning of 2021 to report on progress
- Pick one of the three area’s above you want to improve first
- How are you going to do that?
- What are the first steps you are going to do to get started?
- When are you going to check yourself to make sure you are on track?
Here is mine:
I am going to focus on reducing hours spent at work shifting my schedule to an hour earlier than normal and leaving on time (8hrs). By coming in early, I am going to spend the first 15 minutes identifying critical tasks that need to be accomplished so that I have a clear path for the day. I will use the extra time after work, to spend with the family.
I will report back on progress in a few weeks to let you know if it worked.
One other powerful article. If you have never read this check it out too:
Until Next time, Continue to Choose Beta