Do You Value Your Time?
There are an incredible number of quotes about time - just search “time quotes’ in google and you’ll see what I mean. But there are less quotes about the VALUE of time. And unless you subscribe to the quantum theory of time or metaphysics, you likely feel you have far too little of it. I think my very favorite quote about time is from Albert Einstein:
“Time is relative; its only worth depends upon what we do as it is passing.”
We’ve talked recently about productivity, organization, how you can be more effective with your time, calendar management, and even about self-worth and valuing your talents. But this is not what I am alluding to. I want to talk about the value you place on your time. We have no problem placing value on things, from homes to cars, even to education. We even place a value on our work through our salaries. How do you qualify an hour of your non-work time? Should you? If we listen to Einstein, our time is only worth as much as how we choose to spend it. It is about our experience. Yes, we have to take care of our responsibilities in order to support our experience, but can’t the responsibilities be valued as well? We can see those things in a grateful way, because they are allowing us to bring worth to our time.
What keeps coming up in my mind is the propensity for us to say yes, constantly. Why do we do this? What are we trying to keep up with? If we are spending our valuable time on something that we don’t actually want to do, we are wasting that time. You get invited somewhere you don’t want to go; do you make an excuse up, because it sounds better than “I don’t want to?” I do. And I need to stop. Can we please normalize this? I just don’t want to. Enough. That’s it. Let’s shift our perspective to assigning a dollar value to our hour when it is spent doing something we want to do, let’s say $50 (which is being quite conservative on my scale). And then if we are doing something we don’t want to do for that hour, we have to relinquish that money, or essentially, throw it out. Would you toss a $50 bill in the trash? Probably not. Now, I don’t like assigning monetary value to things that make me happy. The reality is that a lot of things cost money, and that’s just the truth of it. We need money. But, this isn’t about money. It is about time. And time is a precious commodity. Saying no doesn’t mean you are less, or that you are inconsiderate. It means that you are giving yourself your time. It’s YOURS! Keep it, unapologetically.
Not to be a total cliche, but if you were to leave this earth tomorrow, would you fee like you have spent your time to the very best of your ability? Will you look back and say, "gosh, I'm so glad I binge-watched that Netflix show!" Probably not, but at the time it was self-soothing and felt good. I think we lose sight of the big picture because we get distracted with all the small stuff, and the small stuff can be stressful so we look for ways to distract ourselves. The small stuff is important for keeping the bus moving, but when we get bogged down with the details, we tend to lose valuable time.
I am not the most organized person when it comes to my schedule. I have a lot of distractions that veer me off my intended path. I am in the midst of a lot of life changes - a teenager going off to college, another teenager dealing with normal high school drama, a husband with a new job, a dog that is getting old enough where I have to watch her behaviors for changes, on top of all of the external world drama. There are bills to pay, chores to do, paperwork to complete…on top of an emotionally demanding job. And what I see in my life is that a lot of it is not about me. Well, maybe it’s adjacent to me…but it really isn’t about my own internal stuff. My wants, my desires, my dreams.
It could be something that’s just inherent with being a mother? Or maybe I don’t spend enough of my time thinking about me. What I want. What I want to be spending my time doing. I am not just talking about my “free time” but about ALL of my time. Because if you only value your free time, what is the point of how you’re spending your other time? There is no point, because you aren’t valuing it. It’s essentially worthless in the long run.
I’m not saying that you need to stop turning the cogs of the wheel of life. But maybe it is time to consider that your time is worth more than you are giving it credit for. Are you spending your time doing something that is giving you some sense of purpose? Can you be proud of how you spent your time at the end of the day? We don’t all have to be world-changing individuals…that’s not the point. You are the point. Your happiness, your fulfillment, your peace. My problem is that the small things take over, and I don’t revisit my wishes & dreams…until two years later when I wonder why I still haven’t gotten certified for meditation facilitation or realize that I still haven’t taken my dream trip to Machu Picchu.
So what’s the fix? When’s the last time you checked in with yourself? Have your dreams and goals changed? Maybe try a journal, a vision board, something to keep you in focus. Stretch goals are perfect for staying on course. You shoot for the stars, and even though they are probably out of reach, the clouds are a wonderfully nice and soft place to land. We can’t stop the little stuff - it will be there, always. If we stop devaluing our time, we can free up space to achieve those goals and dreams. We only have so many years on this planet, and none of us really knows what comes next. If we aren’t doing what we really want with our minutes, hours, days, years…what are we doing it for?