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  • Heather Davis

Valuing, Capturing & Investing Time Empowers & Feeds Well-Being

The trouble is, you think you have time.” – Buddha

Time plays an essential role in life. So much of what we do is measured by it.

It’s how we organize and structure our days, with calendars and schedules, and how we mark milestones like birthdays and anniversaries. Our seconds and hours, our months and decades – all catalogue the uninterrupted, progression of life’s events.

Most valuable of resources

On average, each of us get about 28,215 days on earth. And no more.

That’s if we’re lucky. Many of us won’t get near that many.

Our time is limited, and life is short.

Even shorter now: that average lifespan is now a year-and-a-half less than just a couple of years ago due to the impact of COVID. That’s a loss of about 550 days.

Not a one of us knows how much time we have left. That’s what makes life precious, and time, the most valuable of resources.

Discipline is your relationship with the time that you have left.” - Barbara McNally

Time may be money, but once it’s gone, it’s gone

The value of money has long been used as a way to value time.

As limited resources, both can be spent, invested, or squandered.

Our consumer culture feeds the myth that the more material things one has, the happier one is. In focusing on the almighty dollar and all that it affords us, we can give short shrift to an even scarcer resource: our time.

The general idea is that we give up one for the other. But time, unlike money is strictly limited.

Once gone, you can never buy it back, earn it back, win it back, steal it back. No matter what you do or who you are or what you have, time can never come again.

Valuing time, money & happiness

Research by Harvard Business School professor Ashley Whillans, et al. (2015) found that overall well-being in life is significantly impacted by how we regard our time, and how we use it.

Their study showed a strong connection between people that tended to value time over money, and greater levels of happiness. This was true regardless of income level, marital status, or level of materialism or affluence.

Underlying this link is how valuing time over money impacts time-use: both in what we choose to spend time doing, as well as how we maximize and capture the time we have.

It is not enough to be busy … The question is: what are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau

Valuing time drives life choices, happiness

Valuing time is more than a motivational screensaver or bumper sticker.

Instead, it’s active. It’s behavioral.

Lee-Yoon and Whillans (2018) found that those people who prioritized time over money reported greater well-being and happiness. This was in part due to their increased likelihood of using time in ways that made them happy.

Researchers found the connection between valuing time over money and time use behaviors big and small. The key seemed the pursuit of ‘intrinsically motivated’ interests, disconnected from external catalysts or rewards.

Whillans, et al. (2019) tracked 1,000 university graduates and compared those that valued time over money and vice versa, for a year post-graduation.

The researchers found that a year after this big transition, the graduates who valued time over money tended to select more intrinsically fulfilling pursuits, and were happier a year on.

Ultimately, how we value our time is how we value ourselves. This can mean knowing who we are enough to pursue a life that is our own or not wasting time on people undeserving.

Valuing time over money has also shown to extend to daily behavior and consumer choices.

Buying time

The quality of life is a culmination of the quality of many moments in time. While you can never buy time back, money can be used as a tool to expand the quality of the time we have.

This can mean exotic vacations but it also can mean paying for closer parking, opting for direct flights that get you in earlier, or eating the cost rather than spending your time to return small problem orders.

Though it makes for a way-less-exciting social media post, your time: more hours for you on this day – becomes just as important as the new toy or designer whatever we can spend our money on.

Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time’ is to say ‘I don’t want to.’” – Lao Tzu

Aligning time spent & goals, purpose

Many of us have goals and dreams.

Whatever they are, we’d better get on it. The clock is ticking. We’re either taking advantage of these days or we’re not.

Rule #1: don’t complain you don’t have the time.

We all have the same number of hours in a day: you, me, Yonce’.

We all make time for what we consider important. Every little thing we spend time doing adds up to our life. The question is whether it matches what we had planned.

The difference is in how we either maximize those hours, or watch them float away. I can’t speak to Mrs. Carter’s time management skills but I do know she’s not sitting around waiting for something to happen.