What’s This Gonna Cost Me? Placing Value on Your Time

Time passes, as it always seems to do. With its passage, we gain wisdom, we gain knowledge and we gain some additional pains that really weren’t there yesterday when we woke up. Often, along our Earthly  journey, we find ourselves faced with difficult choices. We’re at an intersection on the road of life and must decide which road we choose to take. And whether that choice is to veer from the well-worn path that is our day-to-day life, or to do nothing and simply stay the current course, the decision is ultimately ours to make.

home inspector working, sitting on a clock painting

In order to make the best choice from our available options, we should try to gather as much information as possible about the different paths. Each choice should be examined and weighed against the others, in order to determine the best possible outcome.

In making choices in our lives, we need to assess different things depending on the decision that we are facing. Each situation will be unique in some way, with its own variables and circumstances to be considered. Thankfully, all the different questions in these unique situations can be boiled down to one all-encompassing, big-picture question:

What’s this gonna cost me?

Everything that we do has a built-in cost, and a significant portion of this cost cannot be measured in dollars and cents. Often, this cost has more to do with the effect our decision will have on the things we value in our lives.

We are all unique beings, each of us different in our own way. Just as we are all individuals, we all have different things that we consider to be valuable in our lives. For some people, it’s simply money above all other things. For some it’s family. For some, fame and fortune. And for others, it’s simply piece of mind, knowing that they did things the right way. There are as many different “things” considered to be valuable as there are different people.

Unfortunately, we often overlook the most valuable thing in our lives. The one commodity that cannot be replaced, no matter how much money, fame and fortune we amass: time. Our time, which seemed so endless when starting our life and so fleeting as we near its finale, is limited. We are all given a certain measure of time, no matter how much begging, pleading and praying we do to try and get more. So often we fail to value the limited amount of time that we do have, not realizing its importance until it’s too late.

“Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.” – Haruki Murakami

As humans, it seems that most of us are programmed to be optimistic when it comes to our time on Earth, always believing that we’ll have more of it. We tend to put off difficult decisions, reasoning that we’ll have more time (and inclination) to tackle a problem sometime in the future. We believe that tomorrow will always come; that we’ll never run out of time. But the hard truth is that we will.

Eventually, we will all run out of time.

Now, most people don’t like to think about their life ending. We tend to ignore the fact that our time on Earth is finite, always making plans to do things some other time. As a result, we tend to place too little value on our time. We believe that since we can always do it tomorrow, there’s no reason to make that hard choice today. It’s simply not the right time, we say.

“The right time is any time that one is still so lucky as to have.” – Henry James

Now, I know you’re currently facing a difficult life decision right now (and probably more than one.) We all are. Every one of us. Even though we’re all different, and value some different things in our lives, we all must face difficult decisions on a regular basis. That much, we all have in common. And most of us share another common trait: a propensity for procrastination. We are programmed to make the easy choice, staying the current course and not moving against the grain. It’s just easier that way.

However, if you aspire to something more, if you want to make a change, if you can see the goal, but never seem to get any closer to it, then it’s time to stop taking the easy way. It’s time to make a decision. Whether that decision is to raise the prices that you charge to your clients, to learn a new skill or a different language, to go back to school or maybe even to move on from a situation that’s become too untenable (or maybe one that’s just become too easy), the decision is right there in front of you, just waiting for you to make it.

Yes, I know it’s hard to make that decision; it’s difficult to swim against the stream. If it was easy, you would’ve already done it. I would have already done it. But it’s not easy; it’s hard to make those decisions. It’s difficult to make that move, leaving the relative comfort of the status quo for the unknown experiences that lie down the new road.

pic of a crossroads

But that’s just it, isn’t it? The unknown. You don’t know what’s down that road. It could be great, it could be bad, or it could just be more of the same. But you don’t know. (I guess that’s why they call it the unknown.) But what’s the one thing that you know for sure? You know that if you keep doing what you’re already doing, the results are going to be more of the same. That’s for certain.

So, if more of the same is the better choice, then, by all means, keep it going. But if you’re curious about the other path, wondering what lies down that road, then take the chance. Yes, it may turn out to be a bad decision; nothing in life is guaranteed (except the fact that you will eventually run out of time.) But, when you finally do run out of time, wouldn’t you rather look back and say “at least I tried” instead of “ I wonder what would’ve happened?”

“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” – Jordan Belfort

I welcome all feedback (positive and negative) about my take on this subject.  Please leave your comments below.  Thank you!

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Thanks, Joe

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