Time Is A Finite Resource – Live A Purposeful Life
“Just a minute”.
The classic three words we’ve used our whole lives. Whether it was when our parents were calling us inside for dinner as kids or when you’re letting your significant other know you’ll be upstairs to help shortly.
Just a minute. 1/60th of an hour. 60 seconds. 60,000 milliseconds.
That’s one minute you’ll never get back.
Time is a finite resource, you’ll never get any of it back.
What is the definition of a finite resource? A resource that does not renew itself at a sufficient rate for sustainable economic extraction in meaningful human time-frames.
If you live to be 90 years old, you’ll have approximately 2.838 billion seconds of time available to leverage in your lifetime. I used about 15 seconds of my own 2.838 billion to do that calculation.
Knowing that time is a finite resource is a freeing mindset for me personally. It allows me to put value on every second of my time. Sure I still waste a lot of that finite resource with things like lounging around watching sports or spats with loved ones and so on. But the ability to understand you’ll never get that time back creates a great framework to make decisions on in all aspects of life.
The impact of time being limited is a beneficial mindset to have when evaluating our personal purpose in life. Understanding your purpose will aid you in the decisions you make and how you allocate your time with your money, relationships, and essentially every aspect of life.
Purpose and the finite resource of time go hand-in-hand.
Purpose And Time
Purpose is defined as the reason for which something exists and an intended or desired result.
- Psychology Today has an article on finding your purpose and steps to help you identify that within yourself
- Forbes also shared an article with ways to discover your life purpose
- The University Of Minnesota has a great series of articles on Life Purpose
If you were to star in a biopic movie, what is the impact and story you’d want left behind? Imagine you had an empty novel to fill with the narrative of your journey, what would that theme and central mission be?
Some other thoughts that might help identify a purpose:
- What brings you the most satisfaction?
- Where do you find the biggest rewards financially and emotionally?
- When you daydream of your ideal life, what does that look like?
- What energizes you?
Whether you have a deep-rooted holistic understanding of it or a rough sense, that mission and purpose should dictate your decisions with your time.
From your career ambitions to the lifestyle you want to live with your family life, your purpose should serve as the rudder to steer the finite time you have. If you want to retire early, then your decisions with time need to dictate that. Maybe you want to live a perfectly balanced work and family life, then your choices on how to spend your time need to set that structure up.
Figure out what you want to do in life and structure the time you have to maximize that purpose.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs.
Find your own purpose and direction then build a decision making road map around that with your time. Dedicate your finite amount of time to fulfilling the purpose you’ve set out for yourself.
Money, Purpose & Time
This Inc article, Science Says Finding Your Purpose Could Be The Key To Financial Success, shared some interesting insights on purpose and money. The article highlighted a 2016 study by the Journal of Research in Personality, which found people who felt a sense of purpose accumulated more wealth than those lacking meaning.
That makes sense to me.
If you have a set path in life, you’re naturally going to dedicate your time and energy towards that purpose. If you’ve established a purpose, you’re also likely a focused and mindful person actively reviewing your life and goals.
Which in turn would seemingly lead to wealth and success.
Whether that’s through climbing the corporate ladder or side hustling your way to early retirement, that focused purpose will determine where you’ll spend your finite time. If you’re hellbent on retiring early, that will serve as the guiding compass for your money and time decisions.
If your purpose is to have the greatest experiences possible and enjoy the wild roller coaster ride that is life to the fullest, the way you spend your time should align with that. Earning more money or being mindful of your other spending habits will allow you to unlock the money necessary to fulfill this purpose if desired.
Having a central purpose in life helps guide the way you spend (or save) your money. The biggest focus should be ensuring that you’re allocating your time to make this a reality.
Money, time and purpose are an interconnected web.
Relationships, Purpose & Time
A 75-year long study by Harvard, the Grant and Glueck Study, tracked the physical and emotional well-being of two groups from 1939 to 2014. What was the single biggest takeaway according to the Harvard Study Director of Adult Development?
“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
A scene from a movie that is etched in my memory that aligns with the above statement is from the 2007 film Into The Wild.
The lead character, Christopher McCandless (based on a real person and true events), is an isolated individual with a negative depiction of modern society and is soul set on reaching Alaska for a true adventure. Fast-forward to the point where this individual is now very sick and struggling, he etches onto the page of a book:
“Happiness Is Only Real When Shared”.
If you’ve watched the movie, you’d understand the importance of that revelation based on this individual’s view of people and the world.
Personally, I have lived alone since the age of 19. I moved away from my family, friends and hometown to three different cities around the country to pursue my desired education and career path. Similar to Mr. McCandless of Into The Wild, I too have looked for isolation and individual adventures in the past.
However, based on my own life lessons I can wholeheartedly agree with the statement of “happiness is only real when shared”. From something as small as watching a big sports event or as grandiose as finding a soulmate to experience the wonders of the world together. Those moments are so much more special when that shared connection is there.
A passionate, purposeful life should include the company of those you love, appreciate and give and get value from. Surround yourself with people who support your purpose and allow you to best enjoy and maximize the finite amount of time you have.
Life is too short and time is too limited to have to waste meaningful moments dealing with toxic, negative or derailing people.
Priorities, Purpose & Time
Prioritization is linked back to that purpose and mission. We should all be filtering the importance of tasks and then ranking them through the lens of where to dictate your time in order to best fulfill your goals and purpose.
I am guilty of not doing this in both my personal and professional life. I can water-bug around from project to project or from email to social media even when I know what I should be focusing on. I should be concentrating my efforts on the tasks that best support my purpose. Whether that’s my holistic life purpose or the micro-purpose for that day.
The hands on the clock aren’t going to slow down for me so it should be paramount my focus remains locked on those items that drive the most value.
80/20 – Applying The Pareto Principle To Your Time
The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that roughly 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes. Or in everyday terms and a more relatable way of explaining the principle, 20% of your activities will drive 80% of your results.
Therefore, 80% of your happiness is generated by 20% of the tasks in your life. 80% of your success professionally is caused by 20% of the specific tasks you’re doing. And so forth.
There are obvious limitations to the principle and it can’t just be blanketed across every aspect of your life. You can’t ignore areas of your work or personal life that don’t ladder into that 20%. It’s meant to serve as a framework of analysis for your time and in turn, your purpose.
How can we translate this principle and apply it to making the most of the finite time we have? Looking internally and objectively can support identifying that 20%.
When are you the most productive with your work? Allocate the most important projects or items to that time period and efficiently tackle them when you’re at your most effective.
The Balance wrote an article, Understanding Pareto’s Principle, that helps breakdown the 80-20 rule and showcase best practices and advice on integrating this into your time management.
One example is scrutinizing your to do list to ensure you’re putting the most focus on those big results drivers. The joy of “scratching off” 8 small things from your to do list isn’t a true net benefit if the 2 items you haven’t completed are the most important to your purpose or the biggest revenue and happiness drivers.
The American Academy of Family Physicians shared an article on The 80/20 Rule of Time Management that further explains how you can identify those important 20% tasks in your life.
A similar article published by Entrepreneur applies the 80/20 through the lens of small business owners and solopreneurs.
The relationship between your time and prioritization can be better managed if you have your purpose solidified. Once again it serves as the guiding strategy that you can use to make decisions on.
Prioritizing the most important tasks will help ensure you’re being as efficient as possible with your finite resource of time.
I’ve become increasingly focused on better aligning my time and effort to ladder up to my purpose. Whether that’s my life purpose, career purpose, money purpose, relationship purpose and so forth.
Every fact of your life is dependent on the limited time you have and what you can do within that.
The output and energy I do commit needs to be managed more efficiently. Time is a finite resource and it’s flying past me…it’s kind of scary. But it’s also kind of exciting as knowing your purpose and understanding how to best spend your time gives you the power to take control.
You can take control of where you spend that time, who you spend that time with and what you spend that time doing.
Here are some other Making Momentum posts that might help shed light on purpose, goal setting, development and taking control.
- Waking Up At 5AM Changed My Life – Win The Morning, Win The Day
- Top 75 Podcasts To Help Improve Your Life, Finances, Business Health & More
- 25 Books On Personal And Professional Development
- 30 Small Wins Challenge – Make Momentum With Your Money And Life
- Achieve Your Financial Goals – Finding The “How” For Your Money
What’s your main purpose and mission in life and how do you focus your time towards that? Let me know in the comments below.
Are there specific time management skills or resources that have helped you? I would love to hear what’s working for you.