Glasgow, Scotland, UK • February 2015 • Length of Read: 3 Minutes
“My favourite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” – Steve Jobs
It’s a phrase that’s been bandied about by the white collar masses for decades; a quick and easy way to define the supposed opportunity cost that if we don’t use our time to earn money, we are in effect losing money. But in creating this algorithm, the “Time = Money” outlook suggests that capital wealth is the end game, and that those who have accumulated the largest bank accounts and selections of desirable possessions are the victors of this rat race we call life. In our ever increasing capitalist society this may indeed be the case for some, but there are also many of us who live by a different agenda, one in which time would be seen as the most valuable resource we have at our disposal. A resource that is completely priceless.
Money can be accumulated and saved with interest growth; it can be blown frivolously and re-earned; it can even be re-printed through quantative easing if large institutions happen to mess-up. Time on the other hand cannot be compounded, and if you waste it there is no overseeing government capable of winding back the clock; no 88mph DeLorean; no Bernard’s Watch; and no Donnie Darko daydreams. If you become broke then life doesn't cease, but once your time is up then it is game over. In the transgressional words of Fight Club’s Narrator: “This is your life and it’s ending one moment at a time.”
Why then is it that so many people who have been the unfortunate recipients of a doctors' "you have X number of months to live" speech are suddenly able to do such amazing things with their precious final moments? That they then decide it might be a good idea to create a Bucket List of goals and ambitions or to mend broken bonds with relatives and old friends. It's almost like receiving a blunt termination date is the wake-up-call one needs to start truly living; to maximize happiness rather than financial wealth. Echoing Benjamin Franklin: "Most people die at 25... they just aren't buried until they're 75. Lost time is never found again."
Now in fairness, yes, if I do decide to undertake some form of altruistic charity work then I am obviously forgoing time in which I could be adding to my hourly salary, but what 'Time = Money' neglects to consider is that this act of selflessness is probably more rewarding to an individual than that the financial forfeit. In fact, in their 2013 academic paper ‘Time, Money and Morality’, Gino and Mogilner conclude from their research that that money is a corrupt resource and that time can actually “salvage individuals’ ethicality”. Shifting from a financial-centric world-view to one in which time is the major influencer of all decisions will therefore not only make you a happier person, but also someone who is more congruently grounded in their beliefs. Emotions such as humour and love may carry no price-tag, but they are infinitely more valuable than any paper trail.
So, how are you going to spend your most scarce and influential resource? How are you going to spend your life?