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Time vs. Money

Everyday tradeoffs...

Do you live fast, or do you live slow?

I like to think that I live slow...but as I bundled packages off to the post office this morning, there were children carolling in the railway tunnel--I tossed a coin into their bucket, blew kisses to the familiar faces amongst the crowd and kept walking. What was I thinking?! Surely, I should've slowed down to soak up a bit more of their holiday cheer and return their smiles for more than a minute in passing. Why was I in such a hurry?

Some people wear 'busyness' as a badge of honour. I try not to get caught up in that because the busier life becomes, the more frazzled my mind becomes. I can never quite soak up all the loveliness of the moment I'm in if I'm thinking about being someplace else. But, clearly, this morning I failed. In hindsight, I should've paused for a few minutes to soak up all those lovely songs and smiling faces as I made fast with packages for loved ones in tow.

This leads me to recall a Wellness seminar I attended as LSE last week. A visiting professor from Harvard Business School delivered the talk to mostly fellow academics, but I was privileged to be amongst the crowd. Having spent months and years researching themes related to negotiating the tradeoffs between time and money, the speaker shared that 43% of people (middle and upper class westerners) value money over time--that leaves 57% of us who value time over money. How does this manifest? Well...did you change jobs and take a slight pay cut so that you could be nearer to home and make it back in time for bedtime stories? Or, perhaps you began working freelance so that you'd be able to do the school run...or hired a cleaner so that you could reclaim your Saturday mornings?

Or, from the other angle...did you take the promotion with longer hours or the job with a longer commute so that you could boost your earnings and pay the school fees? Or, did you go for the exciting international role and find that your sleep patterns never recovered? Maybe you opted to head to the shops for the groceries rather than having them delivered? Or, did you hire the au pair rather than the nanny?

None of these choices are 'wrong'. We all make tradeoffs and at the root, our choices are based on our values--most often the values instilled in us as children. So, what do you value? Most often, it's when we act in a way that's counter to our values that our subconscious perks up and makes us feel, if you're struggling to name your values--start with what you feel guilty about today. 

Me...well, let's just say that next time, I'll slow down for merry carollers.

As you might have guessed, the research says that as people age, they become more likely to value time over money. Surprisingly, there's no notable correlation between peoples actual earnings and their likelihood to prioritise time over money or vice versa.

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