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You’ve Been Lied To: Time Isn’t Money. You Can’t Buy Time.

There’s a longstanding myth that time is money, and if you aren’t being productive, working your ass off, then you’re missing out on the chance to fill your bank account with cold, hard cash money. Break your back to earn your way.

Don’t get me wrong, we all need money to pay for food, homes, education, and all the other necessities of life, but are we spending our time worrying about filling our bank accounts and padding our IRAs and investment portfolios while forgetting to live our lives? Are we investing our time in the same manner we invest our money? The average annual US stock market return is 8%. Are you investing your time with the same return goals in mind?

And you are young and life is long And there is time to kill today And then one day you find Ten years have got behind you No one told you when to run You missed the starting gun - ‘Time’ by Pink Floyd

Think about it this way: there are 1440 minutes in a day and 524,160 minutes in a year. The average lifespan in the United States is seventy-six years, which is 39,789,760 minutes. If each one of these minutes were worth one dollar, that would equal almost 40 million dollars in the average lifetime. That’s a lot of money.

Now, let’s say that you received $1440 daily to spend on experiences in your life, and at the end of every day, any unspent money would disappear — basically wasted cash — sending your daily balance back to zero to reset tomorrow. How would you spend your daily allowance of $1440?

Let’s run some numbers. For example, watching a rerun of your favorite Office episode would cost you $22, attending a yoga class costs you $60, twelve minutes of scrolling through Bumble deducts $12, while your 2-hour work commute dings you for $120. You haven’t really done much yet. You haven’t worked a minute or slept, but you’ve already doled out $214.

If you’re lucky enough to get the doctor's recommendation of eight hours of sleep and work the US average of 7.75 hours a day (most Americans work way more than this), you are blowing through your daily stipend of $1440. After all this, you have just $281 left, a bit more than four and a half hours. You didn’t make yourself dinner, eat, drop the kids off at soccer practice, or walk the dog. You haven’t even taken a shower today, and you probably smell rank!

There is no judgment here about how you use your time. If scrolling TikTok makes you happy, then scroll away. Or if working 12-hour days gets your motor running, then work thy ass off. The only caveat is that you can’t use the excuse that “I don’t have time” to ______ (fill in the blank).

The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves. — Alan Watts

According to, the top three regrets at the end of life are:

“I wish I lived for myself more.”

“I wish I didn’t work so hard.”

“I wish I didn’t hold back my feelings.”

Wow, those are some Atlas-weight of the world carrying regrets, and research shows that 3 out of 4 people feel this way at the end of their lives!

It’s time (no pun intended) to embrace that we will not live forever so that we can bring the important things in our lives into greater focus. Once you recognize that time is the most precious of all our commodities, then there will no longer be a disconnect between the choices you want to make and the ones you actually made.

There’s no need to wait, only to look back and wish you had done things differently. You can start today by asking yourself what you regret at this exact moment. If you regret opting for safety and familiarity with a current situation instead of reaching for the stars, you will likely feel the same in a few years. The difference between now and then is that you can do something about it today.

Dr. Michael Gervais, the Finding Mastery podcast host, has this great recommendation. “When you say goodbye to someone, say it as if you might not ever see them again. Say goodbye in a way that you demonstrate the gratitude you have for the time you have spent together. Start with one person today. Tomorrow, two. Work your way until it becomes part of your everyday routine.”

You can’t buy time. Take an inventory of your life to see how you are spending your daily allowance of time. Shed the things, people, and activities that no longer fulfill you and add the things that do. When you are in the ground, no one (including you) will remember how much money you had in the bank when you died or how hard you worked.

Money can buy you a lot of things, but it can’t wipe away your regrets or buy you time.

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