Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Time is the Ultimate Currency

I used to teach Economics in high school. One of the central ideas I wanted the kids to get is that you control your own lot in life. We started down this path with the idea of resources and trade offs. When you have a job, you trade the resource of your time for the resource of their money. You then take the money and trade it for various other things--goods, services, etc. If your job pays $9/hour and you think you are worth $12/hour, you should quit and find someone that agrees with your assessment of your value. They didn't always like this because it puts the responsibility for their pay back on them. That means it is much harder to complain about your job!

Today I was thinking about stuff while driving and something occurred to me that I never said to those high school seniors (mostly). If time is ultimately your currency, then everyone starts out equally as wealthy. We all have 24 hours to spend each day. What separates us and makes some more monetarily wealthy than others is how we spend our resource of time. Do we spend it learning and studying and honing our skills? Do we spend it thinking of and perfecting ways to get more out of each hour, i.e. process improvement, ways to be more efficient? Do we spend it complaining about how bad things are? Do we spend our time working for someone else and not giving ourselves enough credit? Do we spend our time worrying about how we are spending our time? Do we spend it partying and not really working toward anything?

Time is, by far, the most valuable and finite resource we have. You can never, ever recover it and the effects of how we spend it pretty much last the rest of our lives--good and bad. Next time the jealousy bug creeps in and you wonder how that guy or gal got so much more wealth or success than you, evaluate how he or she spends their time and how you spend your time. Perhaps the trade off they chose to make in order to get to that point is not one you are willing to make. Perhaps they had a flash of brilliance that changed their lives. Who knows. My point is this, before you get jealous or resentful, think about what YOU could accomplish with better trades for your time.

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