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How to Gain More Time Like Making Money

How to Gain More Time Like Making Money

Time is finite. Each of us on this planet are here only temporarily. It’s important to use time wisely, yet it is easy to get caught up spending your time doing things that don’t really matter.  Most people act in ways that are only sustainable if we had an infinite amount of time.  But we don’t.

Imagine you were able to save $10 per day, and let it build. After a year you will have accumulated $3,650. Equally, if you were able to save 10 minutes of a day to be reused later, by the end of the year, you would have saved 60 hours.

What would you choose?

Most would go with the money. It’s understandable. Humans like tangible rewards.

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However, money by its nature is salvageable. If you lose money, you may have the opportunity to make it back again. But time is different. Once an hour passes, you lose that hour forever. What many people often forget is that those accumulated 60 hours can become something far more valuable than $3,650.  To truly value our time, we must convert it into something tangible in our minds.

Money Is Tangible but Time Is Not?

Our lives are a series of experiences.  Everything we pursue is, at the end of the day, aimed at creating positive meaning out of these experiences.  Everyone wants to have more enjoyable experiences than unenjoyable ones, and want the same for those they care about.

But what is the currency that you must trade to have these experiences?

That currency is time.  Everything is just a means to this end.  Without time to spend, everything else is meaningless. You can be a billionaire, but if you had only 1 hour to experience its value, those billions are suddenly not worth so much.

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We are generally much more conscious of how we gain and lose money.  For example, if you dropped $100 on the floor, I’m pretty sure you would immediately turn around and pick it up.  On the other hand, if you wasted 100 minutes doing nothing, it might barely register.

Although we know that time is limited, we often think and act as if it is not. It’s obvious that treating your finances in this way, like having a $100 budget but spending as if it was $10,000, would soon get you bankrupt.  Treating time like this is far more damaging.

“Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”

– John Lennon

The reason that money seems so tangible is because dollar figures are attached to everything around us.  It helps us to assign relative value between things.  But it can be the same for time.

The Only Way to Measure the Value of Time

A day will always be 24 hours. There will always be 60 minutes in an hour, and there will always be 60 seconds to a minute. Some lives are longer, some are shorter, but let’s assume you’re lucky and get around 70-80 years.   How many of these years are the prime of your youth, or in good health?  How many of these years are just short windows in time that you have with your loved ones?  Instead of just considering time as a quantity spent in minutes or hours, how we spend it is more important.  Your quality of life is basically defined by the quality of your time.  And you should also look at it from more than one dimension. For example, ask yourself these questions.

  • How many hours in a day do you spend being angry, anxious, dissatisfied, or unhappy?
  • How much time do you spend actually connecting with a loved one as opposed to just being in the same room as them?
  • How much time do you plan for improving yourself each day, or each week?
  • How many hours of your life do you spend doing things you don’t enjoy for reasons that you don’t really understand?
  • We sleep on average 6-8 hours a night, but how many hours are quality rest?  How many, then.. are just wasted lying in bed?

If these are typical questions that you regularly take actions to address, then you’re well on your way to being in charge of the quality of your life.  If you don’t, then it’s a great time to get started.

I’m not suggesting to quit your job, and spend everyday however you like. That is unreasonable and unrealistic. However, there are countless choices that you make everyday about how you think about things and what you decide to focus on.  You’re constantly making these choices whether you’re aware of them or not.  If you take charge by being consciously aware of these choices, you can gain countless  hours, days, and even years of meaningful time spent.  Everyone has the same 24 hours a day, but you can take control over more of this time than you think.

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The first step is to make quality time a true value in your life, and not just a cliche.

Your quality of life is basically defined by the quality of your time.

What if you could take small actions during the day that vastly improved the quality of your sleep?  Or boost your productivity and energy through the day by investing in a 20 minute nap.  How about spending time connecting more deeply with friends and loved ones in the short time you have with them?  These are only the tip of the iceberg in an encyclopaedia of ways to increase the quality of your time, which is one of our core values at Lifehack.  You can find out more about how to make the most of your time here: Time Merchant.

Some of the greatest regrets we have in life are those valuable moments lost because of how we chose to spend our time.  Imagine the millions we would pay to be able to go back in time to respend those moments, or to make different choices. So make the choice to truly value your time.  While you’re still alive and breathing, it’s never too late!

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Featured photo credit: Picjumbo via picjumbo.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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