You’re familiar with the benefits of money, I presume? In modern societies, money means freedom. Having it = food, a place to live, and mobility. Having a little extra means expressing ourselves with clothes, decorating our apartments, and showing our friends we care about them via brunch, happy hour, presents...You get it. Money makes the world go round. But we never seem to have enough.
Flush With Cash, but Still Broke.
As the first generation raised by the Internet, we’re also used to money meaning instant gratification. We’re still being shamed for this by older generations (‘you kids today!? Impatient, ungrateful, get off your phones…’), and we’re trying to navigate if we’re proud of our Instant Upbringing, or if we should follow the advice of The Old - slow and steady wins the race, save all your money, or something like that. We’re also not stupid, and genuinely annoyed by being CONSTANTLY referred to as ‘Millennials’ and ‘Gen Z’ and further categorization. We’re not duped by money. We know we need it, but we also know our parents had it, saved it, and still seem pretty f***ing dissatisfied.
So we open 401K accounts, pay too much for rent, and wait in line for the new Yeezys. We’re living our lives, looking for what’s missing. We also have a sneaking suspicion that there’s another currency our parents never told us about.
That currency is Time.
Money is renewable. Time is not. We’ve been broke and flush with cash countless times in our lives already. We run out of money after paying rent, we work a few weeks, we have money again. It’s not steady, but it comes back if we work, stop spending, and eat cheap.
But time...is non-renewable. Ever noticed we use the phrase to “spend time” in the English language? There’s a subconscious understanding we pay for things with our time, but we don’t really talk about it. You know that flicker of shame you feel after a ten hour Netflix marathon? You loved it, but you spent your entire day watching TV. You know you can’t have that time back.
Time = Value sits somewhere deep in us, at the cellular level. If we analyze its history, money started as a physical symbol of how much Time we had paid for something - how many hours of labor we gave to someone. In modern life, we only think about this during disgruntled moments at work, or when realizing how many vacation days we’ve earned.
‘How is it that I’ve only earned 80 hours of free time for every 2,000 hours I work!?’
Taking more than 30 seconds to think about this is enough to make us jumpy and entertain quitting our jobs. Even if we did - it wouldn’t solve the dissatisfaction we feel around how we spend our Time.
Because when we acknowledge we’re in control of how we spend our precious Time, we get overwhelmed. It’s easier to live believing that some things in life are inevitable, and out of our control. Like, for example, working 60+ hours a week, being too tired to spend non-work hours anywhere other than our couches.
The answers we crave won’t be found in eliminating all structure with our Time, but in becoming mindful of our Time. By treating it like a currency.
The ‘mindfulness’ movement in recent years is a Trend with a capital “T”, much like kale, juicing, and spin clubs - but it’s also worth taking seriously. There are endless definitions for mindfulness, but for our purposes, let’s call it intentional awareness. The realization that Time is as equally a valuable resource as Money is powerful.
Suddenly, you have double the resources to live your life.
Press pause on thinking about how many hours you spend working or studying. Instead, think about how many of your hours are unaccounted for - free time to do as you please, no paychecks involved. How do you want to “spend” that Time?
Local (Tourist)s are hungry to discover the world, to explore, to observe, and celebrate beauty while traveling. What sets us apart from other travelers is that we approach being home with the same curiosity and wonder. Our happiness doesn’t increase with miles between ourselves and our home cities - every minute can be a minute of Time we reclaim. “Work is when you confront the problems you might otherwise be tempted to run away from,” writes Vagabonding author Rolf Potts, “Work is how you settle your financial and emotional debts - so that your travels are not an escape from your real life but a discovery of your real life.”
It’s not that we need to quit our jobs - we need to quit blaming our jobs.
You have more than money to live with - you have time to spend. A shift in your perspective could mean the difference between waking up with purpose and living like a zombie.
Reclaim your choices. Buy the Yeezys. Or Don’t. Open a 401 K account, or don’t.
It’s not as important as waking up.