Time should be so precious it is considered
the most valuable thing in the world.
Time should be so precious it is considered the most valuable thing in the world. Sometimes it takes tragic events that smack you in the face to wake you up to this fact.
In finance we are taught the time value of money. What we are not taught is the time value of time. No, that is not a typo. Time is money they said in the business classes. In the real world, time is time.
I read two recent blog posts that inspired me to finish a post of my own. I had drafted a brief version and set it aside due to other priorities. I had lost sight of priorities and that led me to devaluing my time.
The first post I read was by Jim over at Route to Retire – The Hardest Part of the Path to FIRE.
He starts off the blog with the fact that the path to FIRE is long and arduous. He adds that each of us will encounter our own obstacles and stumbling blocks along the way.
Down near the conclusion of Jim’s post he has a big title – “Enjoying the Present.” I remember reading it and just letting it sink in. He mentions that his focus on FIRE had taken away from his goal of spending more time with family.
Jim ends his post with this, “You’ve done everything right, now just enjoy your life along the way. Believe it or not, your day of FIRE will be here before you know it and the hard work will have paid off.”
Wow. Let that sink in. You have the future planned out and you have determined you have reached FI or FIRE (or whatever variation thereof). But – don’t forget to live your life in the present because you never know what the future holds.
The second post I read was by Fritz over at The Retirement Manifesto – What I learned from a 7,000 mile train journey. I am reading along and thinking that it will be a post about his day to day travel escapades. I was pleasantly surprised that it was about his lessons learned along that journey (guess I should have read the post title better).
The lessons that meant the most to me were 2. People Make Life More Interesting, 3. Everyone is on a Journey and 5. Live in the Present.
Two key sentences actually got me into some deep thinking:
“So much of our lives are tied up worrying about the future. Worrying about the past. Worrying about what might happen. Worrying about what won’t. Time to savor The Present.”
“Time, Not Money, is the true measure of prosperity, Spend your time wisely. You’ll never get it back.”
Over the last ten or so years we I had been very focused on financial planning. We work with an Advisor (see post) and meet frequently. Life has treated us well and we knew we were in a great position and achieving our financial goals. Then LIFE got in the way.
We have been through life altering events in our life over the last four years. We are not claiming to be unique in the challenges in obstacles we have faced. We are sure there are many others out there that have or are going through worse situations.
Let me fill you in on what has impacted our lives over the last four years:
My dad passed away unexpectedly. I got a new boss (at my old workplace). Mrs. r2e was rushed into emergency surgery and then diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. Mrs. r2e goes through 6 months of chemotherapy. Mrs. r2e diagnosed with metastatic cancer (it spread) and has major surgery and hospitalization. Mrs. r2e starts another 6 months of chemotherapy. Hurricane Harvey hits Southeast Texas Coast and we evacuate (while we lost two cars, we did not lose our house or our lives). I was reorganized out of work. Mrs. r2e receives diagnosis of “NED” (No evidence of disease) and enters the every three month roller coaster of check ups and tests to monitor. Mrs. r2e changes Oncologists due to retirement of her old one (new oncologist is even better than the first thank goodness). We got our youngest off to college and are now intermittent ‘empty nesters.’
These events of the most recent past have really made me wake up to the fact that it is not all about money. The more important thing in life is life itself and that we need to be living in the present.
Since this is a topic that I struggle with personally, I did some old fashioned innerweb searches. One article on the subject of living in the moment really made an impact on me. The Art of Now: Six Steps to Living in the Moment by Jay Dixit. While it was originally written in 2008, it was reviewed again in 2016.
I will summarize the Six Steps from the article and provide my interpretation.
1: To improve your performance, stop thinking about it (unselfconsciousness).
In other words, don’t psych yourself out.
In the current day and age to many people are quick to take to social media to be critical of others – and yes, I admit that I am guilty of this.
Your job is to not worry about being on the receiving end of other people’s opinions/views. Who cares what the people at the wedding reception thought of your Chicken Dance or Electric Slide moves? Did you have fun doing it? Hell yeah you did!
I am my own worst critic and I know I overthink things all the time. After a big business presentation (and sometimes during) I have a tendency to focus on silly little issues that might have been perceived negatively by the audience. Due to this, I lose focus and start stumbling or asking people to repeat questions since I was not focused on the moment. I just need to complete the presentation and not worry about it so much.
2: To avoid worrying about the future, focus on the present (savoring).
In other words, slow down and smell the roses.
Too often I am guilty of treating things like a task list to accomplish. It got so bad that one year my family rose up and rebelled against me and my traditional vacation itinerary. I was so focused on doing too much in too short of time that I lost sight of being on vacation and enjoying it.
I have slowly weaned myself off this challenge. On more recent vacations it has been about being there and taking the moments in while not rushing around to accomplish the next checklist item. Though I do admit that at a recent Disney World vacation I was a bit itinerary focused due to the venue and most things to do are tied to a schedule.
I do admit that I still use checklists – though I try to limit that to grocery store shopping trips.
3: If you want a future with your significant other, inhabit the present (breathe).
In other words, learn from that Lamaze class – take a deep breath in and slowly let it out.
This may be my Achilles Heel in life. I tend to be impulsive and judgmental in certain situations. When I am under stress it is especially bad.
I have learned and used techniques to politely excuse myself if I start going down this path. This may work in some situations but not all situations. While you can tell your co-worker you need a moment, it may not be the same with your spouse/significant other.
4: To make the most of time, lose track of it (flow).
In other words, set a goal to accomplish something and get so involved in it that your focus distracts you from time.
Mrs. r2e was diagnosed with cancer right before she was supposed to go on a school trip with our youngest son. The trip was to New York City.
During Mrs. r2e’s first round of chemotherapy we set a goal to get up to New York City once she got clearance from her oncologist. It was a short trip but we got lost in a time warp where we focused on just being together. She wanted to see the Broadway show Wicked, so we did. She wanted to tour Ellis Island where many of her ancestors arrived at, so we did. We wanted to see the 9/11 Memorial, so we did. (Side note – the 9/11 Memorial in NYC is unlike any I have visited before. It was the most powerful and humbling experience I have ever had).
Before we knew it, the four day trip was over. But that was what was great about it. We were so absorbed with being in the moment, time flew past without us even noticing.
5: If something is bothering you, move toward it rather than away from it (acceptance).
In other words, run towards the fire. Figuratively of course, unless you fight fires for a living!
There is a well-known business person where we live. He has a saying I have heard many times. “If it is to be, It is up to me.” I am not sure if he coined the phrase or has adopted it. Either way it is a great phrase.
When Mrs. r2e was diagnosed with cancer and underwent emergency surgery I distinctly remember our conversation in the emergency department. In that moment we told each other we would not focus on the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s, we would focus on the present.
This has helped us greatly through her multiple healthcare issues. We have accepted it for what it is and have moved forward. We cannot change it. We can refuse to take it lying down though and fight it with all our strength.
We have our own phrase – “One day at a time. If today is better than the prior day, we are going in the right direction.” And the word better is loosely defined – even the simplest of improvements count!
6: Know that you don’t know (engagement).
In other words, turn off the auto-pilot and look around.
I follow the same route on my commute to work pretty much every day (see Life is Like My Commute to Work).
That same route is the way I get to my mother’s and brother’s homes. Funny thing though, when Mrs. r2e drives and I am the passenger my ‘blinders’ are removed and I see things I have not seen before. And this is on the same exact route I take Monday to Friday.
Here is something fun to do. The next time you are with a friend you have known for years, ask them to tell you something about themselves that they have never told you before.
I looked up the phrase time value of money. Investopedia says “The time value of money (TVM) is the concept that money available at the present time is worth more than the identical sum in the future due to its potential earning capacity.”
The formula is: FV = PV x [ 1 + (i / n) ] (n x t), where:
FV = Future value of money
PV = Present value of money
i = interest rate
n = number of compounding periods per year
t = number of years
I was going to try to be witty and come up with some formula to calculate the time value of time. Being witty is not something I do well. Then again, as I thought about it, there is no formula.
It’s just as simple as being in the present to get more out of the future.
How do you push aside the worry to be in the present?