How much is your time worth?
I know some people who would say that all of their time should be judged by the wage that they get paid on the job. Suppose you’re paid $20 an hour, then you should think of your time spent eating meals as if you’re NOT getting paid $20 an hour to do that. If someone asks you for help, you should be thinking about whether it’s worth $20 an hour of your time to give them some assistance.
I don’t buy it. This train of thought leads you to conclude:
- Spending a third of your life sleeping is the most wasteful thing you could possibly do.
- The purpose of any relationship is to bring YOU money (try that one on your spouse!)
- The measure of happiness is to amass the greatest amount of money.
I’m not against money, mind you – it’s the necessary way that people cooperate together in our society. Without it, everyone would be raising their own food on the family farm and bartering services. It wasn’t an easy existence.
Think about other scenarios too. Let’s say you’re out of work, earning nothing. Does that mean your time is worthless? That there’s no way to decide how to invest your time until somebody decides to give you a paycheck?
Or let’s say that your pay doubles from $20 an hour to $40 an hour. Does this mean that you somehow need to be twice as worried about “wasting” your discretionary time? I thought that getting more income was supposed to give you GREATER freedom in your life!
Let’s think about how the success of companies is measured. We attempt to lump everything into The Bottom Line – how much profit is generated. Stock futures are tied to what people expect corporate profits to be in the future, so people start to think that it’s the sole purpose of a company.
There’s wonderful experimentation now with the “dual bottom line” or even “triple bottom line”, where other goals (such as responsibility to employees and society) are combined with financial success. Wall Street has difficulty with the concept, because it can’t be boiled down to a single number. But it’s a good sign that people are recognizing that some things can’t be measured by money.
In your personal life, you have the freedom to pursue several goals. I’d remind you that money isn’t the objective, it’s the tool that helps you to make progress. And certainly not the only tool, perhaps not even the most important. Others are your time, your energy, your skills and talents, friends, family, and supporters.
Most of the things you couldn’t buy with money even if you wanted to.
by Carl Dierschow