Time or Money – what do you value the most? When it comes to the trade-off between time and money we make choices all the time.
Paying for a take-out meal instead of spending time cooking one. Flying to a destination instead of taking the train or a boat. Paying for a dry cleaning and ironing service as opposed to doing the laundry ourselves. It could be stated that this is what the economy is all about, spending your money to outsource tasks so you have more time to spend as you wish.
When it comes to career most people will use salary as the benchmark for success. Not as much consideration is given to time-based factors such as the commitment required to be successful in the role, the commute, or if the company culture is one that values quantity of hours spent working, as opposed to the quality of time spent working. But this outlook is changing as people broaden their definition of success. Check out my post How do you define success.
Fuelled by a request for a more equitable work-life blend, more people are giving conscious thought to how they would like to spend their time.
When I work with a personal coaching client who is seeking to make changes in their career, the initial focus is on how they would like to invest their time and energy. Financial remuneration is just one of the returns on the investment of their time and energy.
If you are seeking fulfilment, not just a sense of achievement, you want value satisfaction and deeper meaning to also be an element of your return on your self-investment. There is no point in having an equitable work-life balance if the quality of both aspects is poor. You may find this post on work-life balance useful.
We know some people where their relationship with time and money is skewed. There are the financially wealthy who are rich when it comes to money, but very time poor, with the knock-on effect of having insufficient time to invest in their relationships.
Of course, to be able to contemplate choosing time ahead of money means you are not on the lower rungs of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. On these rungs, the focus is on earning money to cover the essentials of life and to create what you deem to be an acceptable standard of living.
As the saying goes ‘there are no pockets in a shroud,’ we cannot take our money with us. In the final analysis, time is what truly matters. Ask a dying person what they would like to have had more of and it is probably not an extra possession, but just a little longer with loved ones or the time to try something they had put off.
Money is a means to an end. The end is to enhance the quality of our time. The stuff we buy and the services we avail to improve the quality of our lives. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to have money to have a quality life.
Many of life’s simple pleasures are free. All that is required to savour them is awareness, gratitude and yes, the time. Even when the focus is on money to help pay the bills and cover the basics, the ultimate goal is to improve the quality of your life, how you are spending your time.
If you are busy and have the means to sustain the quality of life you seek, then it makes sense to lean into valuing your time ahead of money. When you have all the ‘stuff’ you need, the most valuable gifts are the ones relating to experiences rather than material goods.
We’ve heard the phrase ‘time is money.’ This is true when you charge by the hour, but time is not just money, it is a far more precious resource.
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