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Guard the Time, Forget the Money

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

This tweet came up on my timeline recently.

I am so inspired by this tweet, regardless of what the original context was. I think we can apply it to our career and life.

People need and want money, that’s true and tested. But I guess it’s not the only nor the prime factor when you choose a job or career.

I see two ways I can apply this on my personal and professional life.

When I decide on a job, like any other candidate, I would negotiate for more money tailoring it to the company and the type of responsibility I have. Yet, on the other hand, I try to see—or if I can negotiate—what it means for how I would consume my 24/7 with. Do I get to spend more time in the job and less time on my personal life? Is it worth it, even if the pay is 3x as much?

It might not be immediately seen or felt, but as I go along doing that gig, I begin to see how it all adds up.

Let’s talk about tangible and non-tangible “time”: the time you actually spend on the job, and the time you spend thinking about it outside the working hours. I worked in a bank but it ate up a lot of my time. I worked in a posh prestigious company but while it promoted “work-life balance” (no matter how you believe in it or not), I ended up worrying so much on my free time because of the pressure it brings. So I guess, even though you have definite time to work the job, do you spend the rest of your time worrying about whether you performed well, or whether the business will go down, or other things that will keep you at night.

On the flip side—the personal side—I started a relatively successful travel blog back in 2009, which I kind of unfortunately sunset in the past five years because of lack of passion and travel. During it’s heyday, it racked up 150K+ Twitter followers, and won several awards in Indonesia.

Yet, I didn’t really earn any money from it, because I didn’t want to. Some people asked me, “why don’t you try to make money from it?” Yet, I simply don’t want to. It’s just a manifestation of what I love doing—travel and writing—and sharing it with the world. I love the notion that I can use my “free” time to write (or do) stuff that I like. It gives me another pleasure and reward: the network and recognition that people bring.

I would probably have been happy if it made money, but would it mean that I would have the freedom that I had before it did? The tendency to follow what audience wants, or what your sponsor needs. The pressure to publish stuff in a strict cadence.

Of course, there’s some exception to this. For example, maybe you really want travel blogging to be your main money-making career. In this case, it is fine to chase for the money. What I am saying is that, do what you like and love first, and if it does make money for you, good. If it makes time for you, even better.

I think that in both professional and personal lives, time is the best currency. I would prioritize having a bit of freedom on how to spend my time before anything else. You can have a lot of money but no time. You can have no money but have more time. Or you can have a lot of money but more time. In these three cases, one thing is certain — time is of an essence. Any wealth you create, any career you chase, any money you make, should ultimately make you more time.

Now, you might think this could be related to investing and running your own business. I get it. Hold your horses, though, as I circle back to my words: do whatever you want, but if it ends up not earning you more time, forget about it!

Also on Substack

This article is also posted on Substack.

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