“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing.” Seneca On the Shortness of Life – 49 AD
I often look around and wonder if we are living our lives as if our days will never run out, but our time is the only thing that really ever runs out. I am not suggesting that we don’t do anything with our time, but questioning if we are using our time wisely? Nothing we can do can give us back our time once it’s gone, and no amount of money, knowledge or magic will ever change that. So when you think about this, you have to wonder why, we as a population waste so much of our time on pointless, self-indulging activities that add little to no value to our lives when the most valuable thing we actually have, the one thing that really matters, is our time here. Is this how we want to be remembered “Here lies Susan, who looked at more memes than anyone in her peer group, RIP Susan 1943-2016”
You often hear “time is money” and if time is money, then money is time. So what of the old millionaire on his death-bed wishing for one more year, how can his money give him time now?
Ever since time was introduced as a method to measure work in industry during the 18th Century it has been understood in a direct relationship with money. What is somewhat surprisingly and contradictory however is that the more one gets paid for his/her time the less free time they are likely to have. There are a few reasons for this such as the higher pay comes with added responsibility and demand for your time but another less discussed reason is that the more valuable your work time becomes, the more costly your free time becomes, and as a result people want to maximise their profits and think this will increase their enjoyments in life, so they will work more and spend more thinking that this is the path to happiness and success (kind of syncs up with the consumerist world don’t you think?).
Suppose that tomorrow you are offered a 10% pay rise and two options were put forward for you to choose from:
A: Take 10% extra salary (10% more cash in hand)
B: Work 10% less hours per week (0% extra cash in hand as current)
So, what do you think you would do? This option is very rarely on the table, and even if it was do you think you would select the time reduction or take the extra money and buy more pointless things with it?
Another consideration and also playing around the same lines is promotions in a job. Take a promotion and have a 10% salary increase, but will this promotion come with additional costs, more hours worked, more sleepless nights, more stressful days? Yes, it may be a great move career wise, but is it a great move for you? For your time on this earth? It is always worth considering more than money when making a choice that will impact your life, don’t forget about your well being and your time.
This may be where our time poverty issues are coming from in our educated workforce of today. We have money (or at least we GET money) but we trade so much of our diminishing time for it. We sell our time to people and companies for a salary or an hourly wage, but what we are really doing is putting price or value on our time. Now, that is understandable, we all need money to live and enjoy our time in this world. But look around today, so many people of us make more than sufficient money but we put it to use foolishly and the result is lost time now and lost time in the future. We are stressing about time and wasting time and our energy thinking about how little time we have, we run around all day constantly fighting a battle against a mechanical device that will keep on ticking long our time has ran out.
It may seem like being busy is a thing of status, that being busy means you are important, because all the most important people are busy, right? TO be busy permanently, to the point where other areas of your life are being effected for the worse is tragic and none of us shout strive for this.
We trade our money for benefits which don’t improve our lives on this world in the long-term. A new fancy car? Imagine if the price of the car was advertised in hours of your life? The new fancy car for JUST 800 hours of your high quality and productive time!
And now we have this fancy car we need to sell MORE of our time to make up for the cost and running of it. So we sell more and more and more, that is until we get to the stage where we need some time back, we are all out! Then what do we do? Well, why not buy someone else’s time? So we hire someone in to iron our clothes, look after our home, pets, kids, and gardens. We are now employing someone. So let us look at the picture now. We have sold so much of our time, that we need someone else’s time to claw some back. We are effectively reducing the return on the extra hours we sold, because they require us to buy more back time from others.
Our time is the greatest thing we have, so why do we waste it so carelessly? Working for a wage all our best years, spending the little free time you have left looking at nonsense on the internet, drip feeding our brain with just enough stimulus that we don’t become bored. Utilising our time during the week so demandingly and multitasking so precariously that our minds simply say, “please, no more” when you finally do get some free time. You can find yourself vegetating on the couch watching some nonsense on the TV or drinking a few too many drinks simply because you have burnt your brain out with the demands of the ever complex working week, the ever increasing complexities of global companies and the demands that an always-on communication culture places on us to the point that we are capable of little more.
So, why do we do this and how come so many of us end up in this scenario so commonly? Because of the vastness and immeasurability of our time. We do it because it seems so vast, so unlimited! It is and always will be immeasurable. Although, we know we will not live forever but we live as though we will. We think that all our dreams and wishes will somehow come through, though we don’t do anything about them today to make this so. It is because we feel so time rich now that we have no problem dishing our time out generously, and believe that one day we will have all the time we need, but what are you doing today to ensure that? (besides reading this at least)
So realise this, If you earn money by trading your time, anytime you spend money, you are really spending your time! Money can be traded and earned at will, but your time here ultimately is always decreasing.
Imagine for a minute the “Time is Money” expression and how we spend time and spend money. We live as if time will never run out, but we understand that money will run out (hence, we always work for more) but shouldn’t we live in the other way? Knowing that our time will run out, and that money ultimately will never run out. I am not suggesting that we just spend all our money and live without any thought of tomorrows bills. But have an appreciation of how we spend our time, if we need to keep on selling more and more of it and keep on buying more and more rubbish we don’t need.
“So it is inevitable that life will be not just very short but very miserable for those who acquire by great toil what they must keep by greater toil.” Seneca On the Shortness of Life – 49 AD ”
If we all appreciated these facts more, and started acting upon them in our lives we would start to live happier more experience rich lives, we would start to devalue the material items we once longed for and live in the here and now with a thought and excitement for tomorrow.