To Spend, or Not to Spend?

If money was the first thing that came to mind as you read this title, then you won’t be surprised as the topic explores the areas of spending, saving and investing. Yet this article is not really about money at all…

Spending is an activity that some of us love, and some of us dislike – yet we do it in some form or another every single day, whether we are conscious of it or not. It is usually associated with the notions of consuming, disposing of and exhausting (the object or resource) – and there is often a sense of trade – ‘this’ for ‘that’, to meet an immediate need or want. So, if we are not talking about money – then what other resource do we spend daily?

How do you spend your time?

Having an awareness of where and how you spend your time can be more revealing than you may initially think. What proportion of your regular 24 hour day is consumed by sleeping, eating, email, working, travelling, chores etc? How do these proportions vary for the days of your weekend?

Saving is often something we wish we did more of, yet here is the sticking point – time flows continuously and there is no bank account that we can save it in each day… or is there? We can arguably ‘save’ time by doing things more effectively and being more efficient; but you can’t necessarily say “I’m not going to spend this two hours today, I want to add it to my available hours tomorrow”. Many a lament has been made with the wish to turn back time.

In what ways do you currently save time?

On the rare occasions when we do manage to save some time through efficiency or luck, it quickly seems to get siphoned away by other things on our To-Do lists, or even just ‘disappears into thin air’! It would be easy to assume that spending time is somehow the ‘wrong’ thing to do; yet this assumption could lead straight to a trap – spending time worrying about how or how to avoid spending our time. Some amount of spending our time each day may be unavoidable, the difference is the conscious choice; so let’s change the question:

How could you enjoy or respect your choice of what you spend time on today?

Investing can be simply another way of spending resources, however the generally accepted meaning of this term is to commit a resource in order to gain a return (where there is the potential for profitable returns, financial or otherwise). Is a job is spending or investing time? Even in an ambitious career path whilst you can work harder, win promotions and pay-rises, and build a team of people around you – the job value or return is still directly proportional to the time you put into it. With the exception of limited sick leave and holiday pay, if you don’t work in your job swapping hours for income, then you don’t get paid. You may have built up a wealth of experience and skill-base, yet those things will only primarily enable you to get another job.

How much of your time do you currently invest?

If we consider the example of investing money, how likely would you be to invest 10% of your income in something without adequate information and understanding of the benefit (profit or return) you would receive? What if you were considering investing 25% of your income? Or 50%? The idea of committing almost any sum of money without exploring the benefits (and risks) is not something many of us would even entertain; yet we do it every day with our time.

10% of your daily time is 2 hours and 24 minutes! Unlike money – which can be replaced – once time is gone, there is no getting it back. How does that shift how you think about your day?

To really shine a spotlight on this… would you agree that with every second of every day each of us is moving closer to the moment where our time here has run out? Regardless of age, beliefs or circumstances – there comes a point when our ‘time is up’. This does not necessarily imply that our time is scarce. Whilst immortality may (physically) elude us, we have a fundamental choice over how we spend or invest our time each and every day. So whilst we may not have forever, we certainly have this second, this minute, this hour and this day; and our decisions made for previous spending habits do not need to constrain our decisions right now. All change starts from a place of awareness.

When did you last invest in yourself?

How would your life be different if you made one choice to invest an hour of your day instead of spending it? That is less than 5% of your time today. The exciting part starts with deciding how to invest it in the best way for you!

(© Seraphima Coaching 2007-2008, www.seraphima.com, L3 Messages Extract: August’07)