Does this ever happen to you?
You’re watching a movie, or reading a book, or listening to a song or podcast, when suddenly a line just leaps out of the TV or book or headphones and into your brain. It lodges there, lights up like a sparkler, and you feel like it’s a message just for you. It’s like a key has unlocked something inside of you.
Those moments are rare for me. But when they happen, they are magic.
My Latest Fireworks Experience
“Stop spending your time and start investing it.”
Whoa. The mental fireworks just happened again as I typed that.
This idea is so profound. Take a minute to let it sink in.
Time and Money
We toss around the phrase “spend your time” without even thinking about it: “I spent my free time watching TV,” we say. We ask others, “How did you spend your time off?”
And we do spend our time, in the same way we spend our money: mostly on things we don’t need, that don’t improve our lives or the lives of those around us, and that don’t move us any closer to our dreams and goals. Half the time they don’t even make us happy.
But have we ever considered there might be an alternative?
Let’s stick with the money analogy. We can’t save our time — that’s a fruitless pursuit. We can’t really lend it either. We can donate some of it to a good cause, but not all of it.
Investing — there’s the magic word. Put your time toward something that you hope will provide returns down the road. What you do now can pay off in the future, if you choose carefully.
So what does this mean?
Should we always be pushing ourselves to do more? Should we constantly be learning new things, educating ourselves, acquiring skills? Should we make sure that not one single penny’s worth of time gets wasted?
My short answer is no. I don’t think constant activity is the right approach. That’s a fast track to burnout and a surefire way to miss out on your life. But I do think we should deliberately choose how best to use our time. For instance:
- You might invest your time in a new skill by learning about or practicing it instead of watching a TV show. If you are watching TV, make sure you consciously decided to do so.
- You might invest your time in your business or job by brainstorming new projects to try instead of surfing Facebook. Or if you’re on Facebook, be there on purpose.
- You might invest your time in your health by waking up half an hour early to go for a run instead of staying up late playing video games.
- You might invest your time in your family by eating dinner together instead of each grabbing food on the run.
- You might invest your time in yourself by taking a few minutes out of each busy day to simply enjoy the world around you.
Just like investing money, wherever you invest your time is where you’ll see payoffs down the line: proficiency or mastery of a new skill, a healthier body, stronger family ties, greater awareness. The list is endless. It’s up do you to decide where and how to best invest your time, because whether we like it our not, our time on this planet, in this life, is limited.
Stop coasting. Stop drifting. Stop spending with abandon, without awareness, without direction.
Time is arguably our most precious resource. The key is not to spend it. Instead, invest your time in something you care about. It’s the best way to make the most of this gift you have.
What’s Your Take?
Where would you like to be investing your time? Where do you already invest it?