Time Rich is the New Rich
When you hear the word rich, what pops into your mind?
Private cars, beach houses, yachts, and rounds of golf?
Here’s the thing though...
It’s reasonable to assume that you have all of these things — at least, you have access to them.
Sharing economy platforms give us access to resources once exclusively the domain of the wealthy.
Not only that, but despite inflation effectively devaluing a currency over time, one dollar today buys us exponentially more than it ever before across myriad areas.
That supercomputer you carry in your pocket would have cost tens of millions of dollars if it existed in the 1960s.
The same can be said of critical healthcare and education, which over the course of the past Century has become exponentially better, and exponentially more affordable.
When’s the last time you heard of anybody dying from the plague in your ’hood?
You are the 1%
If you earn US$32,400, congratulations — you are the global 1%.
You are no doubt much better off than Kings and Queens of Europe were just several centuries ago. Running water, electricity, healthcare, education, food, shelter, social benefits, transport, almond lattes, avocado smash brunches, European holidays, and a reasonably good chance of living to 75.
Not too shabby.
You might be familiar with Angus Deaton and Daniel Kahneman’s Nobel-prize winning study on the link between money and happiness. They found that, after US$75,000, more money doesn’t make us measurably happier.
So, in short — we are all richer than ever.
But we are poorer than ever too.
Poorer than ever… when it comes to our time.
The average person:
- works 40–44 hours a week
- spends 5 hours commuting per week
- spends 10–15 hours running errands per week
That’s about 60 hours a week.
Factor in 8 hours of sleep a night and you’re left with about 50 hours a week to yourself.
This is to say nothing of people who routinely work 60 to 80 hours per week.
And how do we choose to spend that time?
Staring at screens.
The average person spends 11 hours a day staring at screens, translating to two thirds of their waking hours.
What use is being rich if you spend 70% of your time staring at screens, and the rest running errands and sitting in mind-numbing meetings where nothing gets achieved?
That doesn’t sound like a rich life, no matter how many zeros you have in your bank account.
What use is having a boat in a marina, if you never have the time to take it out for a spin?
What use is all of that money, if you never have the time to enjoy what it can buy you?
We think nothing of giving people our time — something we will never get back once used — saying “yes” to all sorts of nonsensical requests on our time, but when it comes to our money, we will skimp wherever we can, and walk an extra 5 minutes to save on ATM transaction fees — even though we can always earn money back.
In a world of resource abundance, but time scarcity, what it means to be rich is shifting.
Time Rich is the New Rich
As Warren Buffet put it, the rich invest in time, the poor invest in money.
Investing in time gives us deeper personal relationships, more time in nature, well-adjusted physical and emotional health, it empowers us to contribute to our communities, to travel (not just for business), and to take up new hobbies.
Time is what gives us a rich life, not just our salaries.
Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives, captured her findings in a book called the Five Regrets of the Dying.
1 — I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2 — I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
3 — I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4 — I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5 — I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Join the New Rich
There’s countless books on becoming rich, but how do we get more time?
- First, identify what you truly value, and what ‘enough’ means to you
- Determine what you need to do to sustain ‘enough’
- Prioritize, automate and outsource like a boss
- Enjoy the time you have saved and invest it wisely
To learn more about joining the new rich, check out my post on how to be twice as productive in half the time here. Also see: my HBR post on the topic.
And here’s the thing. You don’t need to choose.
You can earn money, and have your freedom as well.
Technology empowers us to do just that.
In today’s world, time rich is the new rich.
As for me, I’m going surfing… 🏄