Have you ever felt that the universe was trying to tell you something? For some reason, over the last few weeks I have felt that there was a lesson that I am meant to learn around the preciousness of time.
Maybe it’s a google algorithm, but lately I seem to be coming across some incredible pieces of content around the concept that time is something we trade.
We are so socially conditioned to focus on how much money something will cost or earn us, that we often forget that there is a much more precious measure of value – our time.
And we have a lot less than we think.
Let’s assume you start working at age 20. If you live to 70, that means you have 438 000 hours to trade. That seems like quite a lot.
Hold on… you can reduce that number to 292000, as you spend about a third of your time sleeping.
Now, if you work a 65-hour week (including getting to and from work and grafting a bit at night and over the weekend) until age 65 doing a job you don’t like and spend another 20 hours on admin and chores, you can take another 200 000 hours off that total. That leaves you with roughly 90 000 hours to do all the things you enjoy.
That’s not a lot of hours – especially when you consider that a third of those are between the ages of 65 and 70, not exactly the prime years of your life.
So, what can we do about it?
1. Before you buy something, think about what the cost in hours is to you?
Societal pressure and constant exposure to marketing makes us believe we need more than we really do. Bigger house, nicer clothes, fancier holidays, better TV, shinier car. Why not, it’s only money, right?
When we think about buying these things, our first concern is how much money they will cost us.
What we don’t think about is how many extra hours with our loved ones, or doing the things we truly enjoy, will we need to forgo in order to purchase these status symbols.
For example, on average, we give over almost an entire working day a week just to afford the means to go to work – that’s 20% of our working lives. For those who absolutely have to have the latest model SUV, that figure could be even higher.
Before you buy these items, ask yourself if it’s really worth all the lost hours that you will never get back.
2. Work your passion
When we do a job that we are not passionate about, what we are actually doing is putting a value on the time that could otherwise be spent doing the things we really want to.
While you may think right now that R100, or even R1000 an hour is worth selling your precious time for, consider rather what you would be willing to pay at the end of your life to buy back those hours.
When you think about it like that, it starts to tilt the odds significantly in favour of choosing a career you are passionate about, rather than one that pays a little more dough but steals your time in the process.
3. Be completely present in those precious few hours you have
When we consider how few hours we really have on this earth to do the things we enjoy, it becomes clear how important it is to treasure each and every one.
Next time you have the opportunity to watch a sunset, play with your child or share a meal with your partner – put away your phone, switch off the tv and forget about work – try to focus on being completely present in the moment – because the clock is ticking and midnight will arrive sooner than you think.