There’s a huge difference between spending time and investing it. The word “spending” means that you’re using something up or exhausting it. When you spend time, you’re not really looking to get anything back. When you invest in something you expend resources, but you do so with an expectation of getting a good return on your investment (ROI). Investing your time means that you engage in activities which are calculated to bring you meaningful rewards.
“Investing” and “ROI” are terms which, up until now, you’ve probably heard only when it comes to money. However, you should start thinking of these terms when it comes to your time, as well.
So, how can you start making better time investments? The first step is to set goals. Until you know what you want and what is most important to you, you won’t be able to decide what the best investment of your time is.
The second step is to make a conscious decision on how you’re going to use your time. Suppose that you were given $24,000 to invest. What would you do? Would you open the newspaper and randomly pick seven or eight stocks to invest in? Of course you wouldn’t. You would think carefully about which stocks could potentially bring you the biggest ROI. However, when it comes to your time you usually spend it without giving much thought to what return—if any—you’re going to get back from your expenditure.
Think of the following:
- Are you spending your time in a relationship you’re unhappy with because you’re afraid to leave, or are you investing your time on creating a stronger bond with someone you cherish?
- Are you spending your time working at a job that pays the bills, or are you investing your time in a vocation that will allow you to create a legacy?
- Are you spending your time gossiping around the water cooler with co-workers who would gladly stab you in the back, or are you investing your time in networking with people who have values that are similar to your own and whom you know you can count on?
- Are you spending your time watching TV re-runs, or are you investing your time in leisure activities which truly bring you joy and which allow you to achieve the state of flow?
- Are you spending your time sleeping more hours than your body really needs, or are you investing your time in your health by going out for a jog?
- Are you spending your time aimlessly surfing the internet, or are you investing your time creating a passive source of income or building a business?
- Are you spending your time furthering someone else’s agenda, or are you investing your time in working toward the achievement of your goals?
- Are you spending your time playing computer games, or are you investing your time on learning the skills and getting the education that you need in order to increase your earning potential and get to where you want to be in life?
- Are you spending your time complaining about your problems, or are you investing your time in finding a solution?
- Are you spending your time giving in to negative emotions—such as anger, worry, and fear—or are you investing your time in your personal growth?
- Are you spending your time searching for lost items because your house and office are a mess, or are you investing your time on decluttering and organizing your home and work space?
- Are you spending your time responding to whatever or whoever makes some demand of you, or are you investing your time in planning your day so that you stay in control of how you use your time?
And here are some more questions you should ask yourself:
- When it comes to the people that you spend time with, ask yourself: “Is this a relationship I should be investing my time in?”
- Are there people I care about who are not getting a big enough investment of my time?
- Is this activity a good investment of my time? Does it further one of my life goals?
- Am I investing time in my health?
- Am I investing time in creating a better financial future for myself?
- Is this the best investment of my time at the moment?
- How can I begin to invest my time more wisely?
The results of spending your time, instead of investing it, are likely to be the following:
- Broken relationships with life partners.
- A strained relationship with your children.
- A lack of a social network.
- Lots of regrets.
- Health problems.
- Debt and a bleak financial future.
- The feeling that you aren’t doing anything meaningful with your life.
The result of investing your time wisely is the very real potential of receiving the following returns:
- A strong, happy marriage (or intimate relationship).
- Well-adjusted kids whom you have a good relationship with.
- A circle of close friends whom you enjoy socializing with.
- Happy memories.
- Achievements that you’re proud of.
- Good health and a longer lifespan.
- Money in the bank and financial security.
- A legacy that you’re proud of.
When you spend your time, it’s gone. But when you invest your time you get a positive return.
Time is your most valuable resource. Start thinking of the way in which you use your time as an investment. Then, get to work on making wise investments.
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