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Don’t Waste Your Most Important Asset

I often wonder what my most valuable asset is.

Is it money? Probably not. In my mind, money is largely infinite (you can always make more) provided you work hard enough and have a creative mind.

It certainly isn’t material items. Although I’m finding things constantly creeping into my life, I recently went on a purge of sorts and feel awesome.

One could make a case for relationships as those require effort to nurture and grow. A great relationship also energizes both parties and can greatly increase one’s quality of life.

However, in my mind, our most valuable asset is time.

  • There’s a limited amount.
  • You can’t stop it.
  • There’s no option for redoes.

I also feel like it indicates a lot about a person. I’ve written about this before, but essentially, since time is so valuable, where you spend it and what you spend it on should matter.

Your Relationship With Time

Awhile back, I wrote about reverse-engineering happiness, essentially envisioning the happiest you could possibly be and then formulating your life to fit those idealized scenarios rather than trying to conjure up happiness without first defining it. In my experience, this largely helps to figure out where to best spend your time. Picture yourself doing what you love to do on a daily basis. Envision it down to the hour.

  • When do you wake up?
  • Where do you go?
  • What do you do?
  • How long and where do you work?

All of these questions need to be answered in an honest way. Only then can you set the destination to work towards. Before that point, you might as well be shooting darts at the dartboard while blindfolded. It’s nearly impossible to hit something you can’t see.

Here comes the roadblock.

Even after defining all of those areas of your day and accurately partitioning your time according to how you really and truly want to spend it, it’s going to be hard to implement. There’s a certain feeling about being busy. Regardless of what you’re doing, busting your ass from dawn till dusk makes you feel more productive, regardless of what you’re actually getting done.

When Tim Ferriss originally published his book on The 4-Hour Work Week, it changed the typical notion of how many people view work. Instead of viewing it as a way to spend your day, Tim pictured work largely as an outlet to freedom. By successfully setting up your career, work could be a catalyst to your free time rather than an impediment. Again, that sounds great in theory. But, how many individuals do you think read that book and actually implemented a single word? Probably not many. The idea of living your dream schedule (waking up when you want, working when you want) sounds great, but can be hard to implement because it largely pushes against the status quo. As Ben Franklin put it, leisure time and laziness are often confused:

A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things. There will be sleeping enough in the grave. – Benjamin Franklin

Time spent working is pictured as the norm, and free time spent enjoying yourself is the luxury to be enjoyed occasionally. People feel obligated to work.

The Required Change of Mindset

Perhaps the worst distinction one could make is that time not spent working is time wasted. To quote Henry Ford:

“Every man needs more than one day a week for rest and recreation….The Ford Company always has sought to promote [an] ideal home life for its employees. We believe that in order to live properly every man should have more time to spend with his family.”

“It is high time to rid ourselves of the notion that leisure for workmen is either ‘lost time’ or a class privilege.”

That “notion” as Ford calls it has slowly crept back into our minds.

We view time off as wasted time that could otherwise be used to create/build/make/earn something (typically money). As Ford put it, that notion is absolute nonsense. In truth, your time is yours to spend how you wish.

So, it’s time for a change of mindset. Stop viewing time as a means to accomplish work and start viewing it as a finite resource meant to help you enjoy everything that life has to offer.

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