If you’ve ever talked about work or sacrifice with your parents or grandparents, you’ve probably heard the phrase “time is money.”
With how society functions, it’s believable: every hour on the hour, people are paid for their labour. Every minute they’re not working, they’re usually not making a cent (unless they’ve invested money or have another passive income stream working for them).
Although you could say “time is money” is true in some capacity, we get into trouble when we take it literally, and we’ve seen how this mindset has produced unfortunate results—namely burnout.
The “time is money” mindset has been entrenched in our psyche by previous generations and the pace of the capitalistic world we live in, making it hard to escape our obligatory feelings about work, work, work. (Sorry, I’m trying to keep this as light as possible.)
When we’re unable to freely enjoy leisure or rest because our time is monetized, the “time is money” mindset takes a toll on our mental, physical, and emotional health. (Ahem, burnout!)
In addition, when there’s always a price on our time, we may feel obligated to cut corners, produce work of lesser quality, or not be as invested in things we love to pack more into our schedule (a.k.a get more sh*t done).
I alluded to it earlier, but if you’re wondering how we got suckered into this way of thinking and how we can snap out of it, read on for the answers.
How’d We Take On The “Time Is Money” Mindset?
One thing I’ve learned from a few of my beloved podcast guests is that although we must be conscious of how we’re spending our time, we must acknowledge who or what we’re allowing to occupy it and how we’re reciprocated.
I also learned that using the “time is money” mindset as motivation to work (or guilt ourselves into even more work) results from having a lack-based mindset. A few obvious signs you’re operating with a lack-based mindset include the following:
- You always think you “need” something, whether material or not.
- “I want” slips off your tongue all the time.
- You’re fearful that there’s not enough to go around money-wise or career-wise, so you’re afraid to share details about how you got a job or who you’ve connected with.
You’re not alone if you’re confused about why you’ve exhibited these thoughts and behaviours. Yes, simply existing in a materialistic, social-media-driven world influences your thoughts, feelings, and actions. The downloading of this information probably happened subconsciously.
For example, if you’ve ever visited your favourite Instagram account and thought, “Ugh, she’s so lucky. I’d love to travel to Italy too, but I could never afford it…” there’s an indication of a lack-based mindset, right there.
Why couldn’t you afford to travel to Italy? On the one hand, you may be experiencing financial trouble, but what if you could change your money habits and improve your situation so that you could go and do whatever your heart desires?
Now that’s an example of operating on an abundance mindset.
Using Abundance Theory To Escape The “Time Is Money” Mindset
In an early podcast episode with my friend and graphic designer Anita, she described the scarcity mindset so clearly:
“Scarcity is this creation of our mindset that there isn’t enough time, there isn’t enough money to be made, there isn’t enough work to be had, and that we must fight and compete with each other, and I don’t think that’s true.”
That said, your first step to challenging and hopefully overtaking your lack-based mindset is to adopt an abundant one. You may have heard this referred to as abundance theory, and here are five ways you can begin to overcome scarcity:
- When you wish for someone or something other than what you have, remember to reflect on what’s already abundant in your life and think of ways you may be grateful for that abundance. Take, for example, good friendships, a decent salary, or a job that’s a stepping stone to your dream career.
- Talk about the things you desire as if you’re on the brink of achieving them. Today, “future self” journaling and visualization practices are pretty popular, during which you think about your fantasy life as if you’re already living it—it’s yours. Research has shown that shaping your future self requires “deliberate practice,” or the ability to develop yourself towards a specific goal. And if you’re having trouble manifesting what that may be, check out this article.
- Create situations where no one loses. I learned about this concept in an article by Caroline Castrillon, an author and career and life coach. Circling back to the belief that there’s not enough to go around, Castrillon says that if you come up with reasons why you should feel accomplished whether you win or “lose,” you’ll be able to see the good in every situation. In other words, you’ll never be without.
- Picture all the things you’d miss or lose out on if you didn’t give them all your effort or attention. Take, for example, those final moments with a sick family member, a simple dog walk with your pup, or a conversation with someone who’s just as passionate as you are about your industry. When you’re fully present, you can catch things or take advantage of opportunities that would’ve passed you by quicker than the wind.
- Always remember that health is money in your pocket. When you don’t take undivided time for yourself (time that you could’ve technically spent working), you subject yourself to more scarcity. Of course, a little bit of elbow grease may be necessary to get yourself where you want to go in life, but no amount of complete and utter burnout is worth your happiness and well-being. And if you’re always “too busy” working, you end up blinding yourself to the most accurate and earliest signs of exhaustion from your mind, heart, body, and soul.
So, what’s it going to be? Scarcity or abundance? If you choose the latter, I promise you’ll have no trouble escaping the “time is money” mindset. —Anastasia Barbuzzi
Anastasia Barbuzzi is a freelance journalist as well as the host and founder of $HMONEY: a judgement-free zone for millennial women to learn about personal finance and dismantle the money taboo. Her podcast, $HMONEY Radio, is available wherever you listen to your favourite shows.