What is the true value of your time? How can you measure progress in your life? It might be how much time you have, and it could be how well you use your time. It might be how much you earn for an hour of work.
As humans, especially humans focused on performance, its understandable to want to measure or quantify your time.
If you don’t earn money today, you have the opportunity to earn it tomorrow. Your retirement fund may go up and down as the stock market fluctuates. You might earn less now than you will in your highest earning years, but the chance to earn more later is (in theory), always there. Money can be made and lost. Resources fluctuate.
But time is truly scarce. Time only moves in one direction. The line on the graph only moves to the right when time is our X-axis.
Each day is a single opportunity – you can either use it, or it is gone forever. Every minute you use is burned – and all people share time equally. Time is a perishable inventory.
Take seats on an airplane flight, for example. The airline only has so long to fill those seats; once the plane takes off, those empty seats are gone forever, potential revenue never to be realized. The consumer who books a hotel room pays for a window of time; once the time is past, it can never be sold again. Imagine if all of the food on a grocery store’s shelves expired at midnight each night, or all the clothes in the retailer disappeared.
Essentially, each day is a unique, single use commodity.
With this in mind, how do you view each of your days on this earth?
For some people, day-to-day life is a drudgery of back and forth. Slog to work. Slog back. Watch the clock for the end of the day. Moments slip by waiting for some future place where all is well, and you finally have everything you need.
When you consider time as a one-way line, a perishable resource, living your life this way seems preposterous. Reckless, even.
Obviously none of us can master every moment of each day. But if we choose to forego the desires, motivations and drivers that fuel you today, you outright miss potential. Period. If I try my absolute hardest today, but you do nothing, and we both live for the exact same amount of time, I will always maintain the advantage of that single day (assuming all other variables are equal).
Everyone needs to rest though. We need downtime. Weekends, holidays.
Try to ask yourself: is there something better I could be doing with my time? What is the highest and best use of this day for me?
Let’s say you can earn $100/hr equivalent through your business. But you need to complete some other household task, one that you don’t get any personal value from doing, like replacing a toilet. Or changing the tires on your vehicle.
If you truly gain energy from completing the task, and see it as a valuable use of your time, do it! If changing your tires and getting your hands greasy fulfills a need in you, go ahead.
But if your work will be a more fulfilling use of your time (and profitability can be a measure of fulfillment, at times), focus on your work. You’re good at it for a reason. Let the person who’s best with toilets & tires focus on those.
Most importantly, however, never ignore the opportunity to share your time with those you love most.
Ultimately, value is always in the eye of the beholder. Does the price paid justify what you get? No one should spend their weekends working. You shouldn’t be on your cellphone or computer on Christmas Eve. But do not, ever, squander your time. Never pay the price of your time, when the value simply isn’t there. Why?
Because your time is truly the most scarce and valuable resource in your life; and it is yours alone to spend.