Investing in Time
Entering the third holiday season as a family of four, I can’t help but notice how the festivities arrive faster each year. The holidays always feel like a landmark on the calendar because there is so much excitement: family gatherings, school productions, holiday parties, etc. It feels as though, somehow, everything speeds up, and life goes quickly at a time when we’re encouraged to slow down.
Advisors are no strangers to dealing with difficult emotions when it comes to contemplating time. We talk about it repeatedly with our clients: establishing timelines for retirement or accomplishing other goals. Sometimes, it’s a matter of discussing some of the more pensive, personal questions about time: “How can time be going this fast?” Or, “Will I be able to accomplish everything I want?” Over the past few years these questions have led me to do some soul searching as well. There are never simple answers to these questions, and often the unanswered questions stick with us forever. Yet, throughout the years, three categories have emerged as to how I would like to spend my time. If I am able to commit to practicing each of them, then I think I will have used my time wisely.
Time is our most valuable asset. Knowing this, I commit to giving some of it away. By giving my time away, I can be present and open to form stronger connections with friends, loved ones and my community. When I return to work or home from volunteering, I am more available to others and more engaged. Being conscious about giving time away forces me to be in the moment. When I am fully able to immerse myself in the moment, I feel as though time slows down a little bit.
By giving time on a smaller scale, you can also get yourself in the moment instantly. One of the benefits of this strategy is that you can do it right away. If you see someone in need, you can lend a helping hand immediately. It’s as simple as washing their dish, picking up some trash in your neighborhood or helping a stranger with something. Giving your time, even in small increments, reduces the demand on their time. In effect, it’s like giving someone’s time back to them.
Another “time” theme I am working on is taking time, for myself. There are so many demands on my time which means finding uninterrupted time can be challenging. When was the last time you took a moment to be by yourself and do something you wanted to do just for you? Is there something you could do to be the best version of yourself? It’s important to prioritize this, because you will feel empowered when you take care of yourself. When I take time for myself, I find that I am more attentive to those around me.
Lately, I have spent more time mountain biking, and I can’t tell you how invigorated I feel afterward. The time I spend biking throughout southern Arizona provides me with a brief window to get away from it all and be present. The same can be said for your favorite pastime, as well: pickleball, needlepoint, watercolors or whatever interests you. I encourage you to focus on what you are doing because distractions take away from your time.
I urge you to seek out these moments for yourself, because they are so valuable for you and those around you. If you need help deciding how to take time for yourself, why not ask your advisor? We know you well, are objective and have ideas of what you might like based on your life goals.
It’s easy to appreciate the “Hallmark moments” like when my daughters bake with my mom or when a client formally selects a retirement date. These moments are so powerful that they almost make time stand still. Yes, appreciate these moments, but let’s also focus on the harder moments to appreciate.
What happens when your flight is delayed three times and then canceled? What happens if you’re ready to tackle the day and discover a flat tire? These are opportunities that we need to appreciate, too. Without these situations we couldn’t savor the sweet moments as much. When these circumstances happen, and we know they will, I challenge you to be present and embrace the annoyance.
It takes a lot of work for this to become natural, but there’s no time like the present to start developing new habits. When you notice that you’re starting to get agitated, do something to take yourself out of the moment. This is often referred to as a grounding exercise. I find myself saying, “Ride the wave.” The irritant is inconsequential. What matters is whether you ride the wave successfully, which means that you are present with patience, understanding and grace. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do it perfectly. All you need to do is focus on riding the wave and doing it with intention. Frankly, embracing the challenge and accepting it is part of the journey.
It bears repeating that time is our most valuable asset. No matter what your stage of life, having a healthy relationship with time can have a positive impact on your life. As a client of TCI, our primary objective for you is overseeing your portfolio, but equally important is empowering purpose-filled lives. If you need someone with whom to talk about time, we are here for that as much as we are here to talk about your portfolio. Whether you want to talk about time at our next meeting or sooner, that’s up to you, but don’t let it go too long, because, as Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”