Tag Archives: relationships

2013: The Value of Time

I could write for days about 2013. In fact I intend to at some point write a book of my adventures…and this blog covers those in detail pretty well. I’m writing the reverse of a new year resolution (depending how you look at it), I’m writing a ‘resolved last year’. I am testing the theory that celebrating what I achieved/how I grew is more motivating than only saying what I have to change to be successful or happy.

I will always see my travels as an invaluable experience…not because I saw the Taj Mahal and Victoria Falls (though they were wicked awesome)…but because of what I couldn’t have learned as clearly anywhere else, at least not in such a short period of time. If I ‘took away’ three things from this year they would be: the value of time, the fortune of good health, and choosing to see the beauty in everything. This is the first of three posts deconstructing my experience and theories about those three ‘learnings’ or ‘take aways’ if you will.

The Value of Time
Time is money. We’ve all heard it, and most likely said it. The expression typically implies that we mustn’t waste our time at work because the more we waste the less cash we make. Have we ever actually thought of it like that in terms of the value of time instead of the value of money? Perhaps we should think of it in terms of our donations to our community or our overall wealth. I would even argue that many of us are more afraid of not having enough money over not having enough time (in days, not in a day).

With volunteer management being part of my role and having upwards of 1000 recorded volunteer hours under my belt, you could say I think volunteers are an integral part of society. My approach to my job is that volunteers are donors and should be treated as such. If Jane gets paid $25/hour at her day job and volunteers with us 3 hours each week we could argue that she makes an annual contribution of nearly $4000 to our foundation. As a young person I have taken this approach to volunteering: I don’t have the money, but I do have the time [to donate]. Without the volunteers to canvas a charity doesn’t reach the people with the money to donate…both play equal parts in the growth and sustainability of the not-for-profit sector.

Second, in regards to wealth…would you rather be the richest person in the world with a week to live or earn an average income and have 50 years…even 20…even 1? Maybe the answer to that is less obvious to some than it is to me, but I see just as much value in the time I have as my bank account. No, I won’t say time is more important, because I do think that you need to earn a living to support a healthy lifestyle…but (especially as a 20-something) I think our concept of wealth is extremely distorted. First, we don’t actually ever know how much we have left. Have you ever stopped and thought of how amazing it is that you are as old as you are…thought of all the things that could have gone wrong, things you’ve overcome, or people you know that haven’t been as fortunate? Do it.

We tend to panic about investing money to RRSP’s and buying houses completely forgetting how much time we have that we won’t get back. (Note: I am investing in that stuff too…but the key is balance) I have seven years before I hit ‘thirty’…in quotes because society has turned it in to a successful life checklist instead of an age. That seems like a terrifyingly close time to be married with kids with a white-picket fenced home in suburbia (not that those are my specific goals)…but then I remember that 7 years ago I hadn’t even applied for university, I was working at Starbucks part time, and wanted to be the next Mia Hamm. In that seven years I have visited over 20 countries, completed my degree, had three other jobs, met 3 times the people I knew then and moved out (among other things). Had I chosen to just work to make money scrapping travel and my 4-year degree my bank account would probably (definitely) be quite a bit prettier, but I would never doubt how much wealthier I am today because I invested my time.

Third and last: relationships. Intimate or friendships, I am standing up for myself and my time. For some reason it is really easy for me to identify one sided relationships my friends are having with their significant others while I am the same person in some of my personal friendships without even realizing it. Many of our friendships will last longer than most of the relationships in our lives so all the more reason to demand respect and chose individuals that will support your success as you do theirs.

Yoga teacher training helped me in removing myself and my bias from situations. That act alone has helped me see how ridiculous some of my friendships were and the toxic effect they had on my life. The good news (which is better than this Debbie downer mumbling) is that it has also helped me see the people in my life that are great. The people that have seen me at my worst…which has been pretty questionable at times… and still balls to the wall support me in anything I do. The cliché ‘people I can count on’…but most of all, the people that make me better (and that I think I’m making better in a non-manipulative way).

How do you make people better? How can you tell if people are making you better? I am convinced (for now) that I have deduced this to 3 points. (I like lists…and odd numbers).
1) Challenging each other. Not to a pokemon duel or a kegstand contest… but do you ask the hard questions? Maybe you answer them. Having the trust to be honest without repercussion. Maybe it’s a little bit of healthy keeping up with the Jones’ to keep you on the bandwagon in the latest diet fad. May I add the disclaimer that good intention is the magic ingredient…competition or comparison are different ball games.
2) Who you are for each other. Not buying flannel and skinny jeans because somebody is totally into hipsters… but does being ‘there’ for this person mean more to you than staying in your comfort zone? By ‘there’, maybe you have to be a better listener, have more compassion, meet new people…not changing who you are fundamentally but strengthening friend/life-skills to be ‘there’.
3) Believing in each other. Both ways. Do you respect that person enough to be their voice of ambition and confidence when they feel like there is no winning? And is that person there to tell you who they know you can be when your head is stuck in a fog? Once again I stress: BOTH WAYS.

I have cut out SO many people from my life. If you are still not convinced on my time vs. money comparison let me put this into more quantifiable terms than ‘being there’. What my life had become after university and working in a youth dominated retail environment was a portfolio with 100 unpredictable stocks. I had to try to tend to all of them because I didn’t know which ones would become valuable or stay in my portfolio, and many of them fooled me because I couldn’t do my research. Now I have 10 well-researched, reliable stocks that I will continue to invest in because I know I will get a good return. Shit does happen, but ultimately I know I can count on them in the long run. And because I feel secure and stable, I have time to do, learn, and live much more.

In one easy summary: My time is valuable and limited, I will not waste it to please others, I will invest it to making myself and those who invest in me better.

The Wedding Theory

As I tie up loose ends before I leave to travel indefinitely I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll likely come back to a fraction of the ‘friends’ I feel I currently have.  Considering I left to 3 hours away from home for 4 years of university and talk to a total of 4 people from high school in my hometown the odds aren’t great for a high attendance at my welcome home bash. And the first time I went back to Edmonton I texted/facebooked everyone with bells and whistles about my visiting town.  Visiting two weeks later I told less than 10 people.

That in mind I started thinking…what if the “quit my job, buy a ticket, get a tan, fall in love, never return” plan actually succeeds.  What if I find my ‘soulmate’ (for lack of less nauseating vocabulary) while on my travels? …who would I invite to my wedding?  That question alone has been quite therapeutic in my personal relationships.

The theory is a little something like this.  If I got engaged to a foreign man, one with no biased relationships with any of my existing friends, the people I would invite to my wedding are the only people I should actually be concerned about.  Now that sounds brash, so let’s elaborate…

I’m not saying I wont associate with others or that friends should compete for a seat, and I’m certainly not actually intending on getting married tomorrow.   But what I realized was even if I married a prince and had the funds for a 500 person wedding I’d still only invite less than 50 friends…not the 940 some odd links I have on facebook or the 100 on linkedin.

Quite frankly I’m an extrovert; I inherently enjoy being around people and maintaining relationships.   But what friends, if sick, would I come home for?  What friend would I shave my head with if they got cancer? What friend would I fly across the continent to visit?  More simply and superficially put, what friend would I pay 100+ dollars for (and for their plus one) to celebrate my wedding with?  Those are the relationships I’m investing in.  Those are the relationships I bother mending when things get rough.  Those are the friendships that don’t require constant communication all day every day to feel  real.  Those are the friendships I’ll maintain while I’m literally around the globe.

So I’ve been living by the wedding theory.  Looking at my small group of friends (1/20 of my facebook  ’friends’) that I would want at my wedding, for whatever qualifying reasons, I’ve started valuing them more.  As much as my old job drove me crazy at the end it did have a good concept, the 80-20.  The best results are investing 80% of your time in 20% of the people.  If I continued investing 10% in 90% of people like I am, that wedding list would be a quarter the size by the time I actually get married (let’s be real, probably 10 years away).  I’m not saying I’m deleting everyone not on the list, or that the list is final…but it’s a great starting point.

In addition to this, the Wedding Theory also carries to relationships.  22 may not be old…but it’s not that young either.  As friends an I chat about relationships, we’ve come to the (perhaps terrifying) conclusion that whoever we’re in a relationship with now or whoever our next one is with might just be ‘the one’…and if it’s not, then do we want to waste time in these relationships and end up single in our late 20s trying to meet, ‘court’, get engaged to, and marry somebody?  Typically the answer is no.  I’m not saying I want to be married any time soon, but I am saying that with the exception of flings along the travel paths, I’m not really at a point in life where I want to date somebody just to be in a relationship.  Plus I just quite enjoy being single as it allows me to be much more selfish in my life decisions.

With the morbid thought of me maybe not making it back (tsunamis happen), or somebody I love not being here when I get back, it makes me feel better that I’ve prioritized my relationships now so I can go knowing those who matter know they matter.