How much is one hour of your time worth to you? Even if you haven’t explicitly answered this question, your behavior every day implies some conversion rate between time and money. And for most people, that conversion rate drastically overvalues money and undervalues time.
The old adage “time is money” is wrong. Time and money are very different. Time is irreplaceable. Money can be accumulated into massive piles and spent whenever you choose, but your stockpile of time is being depleted at a rate of one day per day. You can always make more money, but you can never get back time. And it’s easy to trade time for money but very hard to do the reverse. So we should have a bias toward favoring time over money.
But the bias almost always goes the other way. We are wired to believe that amassing material possessions is the surest route to happiness, so we spend our time making money. We have a tendency to overfocus on quantifiables like paychecks and expenses, and underfocus on non-quantifiables like friendships and family. We guard against the loss of money, but not against the loss of time, as if the inevitability of time passing makes it worth less rather than more. We say time is precious but we don’t treat it that way.
Your earning power will keep rising over time, and as you become more wealthy, each additional dollar will have less impact on your happiness. But you will have less and less time left. This means you should be aiming even further in the direction of valuing time over money.
So starting today, treat your time as more precious and your money as less precious. Redefine affluence to be based on time, not money. You deserve to have high self-esteem, and this should apply not just to your overall life but also to the minutes and hours that comprise it.
Make others respect your time, and have little tolerance for those who keep you waiting.
Be very careful about selling your time for money in a job you don’t enjoy and aren’t learning from. If you’re working at a job you wouldn’t do if you weren’t being paid to do it, you are selling a part of yourself. Is your price high enough?
Buy other people’s time with your money, by delegating activities that you don’t enjoy or that don’t help you develop skills you want.
Decouple your earning power from your time and look for ways to create value for the world that don’t require continual inputs of time on your part. Trade time for money only to have enough to live comfortably, to live longer, or to donate to worthwhile causes. Before a large purchase, convert its cost into the time it took you to earn the money to make sure the price isn’t too steep.
If you’re currently living paycheck to paycheck, this message might not yet resonate with you. You might spend most of your waking hours working at a job you dislike just to get by, and think this is the way it has to be. It doesn’t. In the coming months I’ll be publishing additional articles here to show how to escape the paycheck treadmill.
If you follow this guide, choose to make money a priority, and are willing to work at it, you will have more money than you could ever need.