Time Millionaires

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17th Nov, 2021

I recently read this wonderful article in the ‘Guardian’ and it struck a chord. Reproducing some bits from it.

First named by the writer Nilanjana Roy in a 2016 column in the Financial Times, ‘Time millionaires’ measure their worth not in terms of financial capital, but according to the seconds, minutes and hours they claw back from employment for leisure and recreation.

(Angie Garner has also written a book titled ‘Time Millionaire’, where she takes you on a personal journey of who you need to become to successfully implement this business vehicle so you can make money while you sleep, do more stuff you’re passionate about, and live a life of impact.)

The question ‘Time Millionaires’ ask is, “if you had enough money, would you pursue more of it – or should time now be our greatest aspiration?”

Wealth can bring comfort and security in its wake,” says Roy. “But I wish we were taught to place as high a value on our time as we do on our bank accounts – because how you spend your hours and your days is how you spend your life.”

But decoupling our self-worth from the credits flowing into our bank accounts and the titles on our business cards is not always easy. Many people’s self-esteem is bound up in their work.

It was not always this way. In pre-industrial Britain, the wealthy elite were defined by their ability to not work, but live off land rents and capital investments. With the advent of industrialisation, and the emergence of an upwardly mobile middle class, industry replaced leisure as a marker of respectability.

The contemporary iteration of this values system emanates from Silicon Valley. Elon Musk is known to work 120-hour weeks, scheduled into five-minute meetings. In her autobiography Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg writes about answering emails from her hospital room, the day after giving birth.

The fact that we carry our offices around in our pockets has made being always ‘on’ a moral imperative.

As a result, leisure has become a dirty word. Any time we scrounge away from work is to be filled with efficient blasts of high-intensity exercise, or other improving activities, such as meditation or prepping nutritionally balanced meals. Our hobbies are monetised side hustles; our homes informal hotels; our cars are repurposed for ride-sharing apps. We holiday with the solemn purpose of returning recharged, ready for ever-more punishing overwork. Doing nothing – simply savouring the miracle of our existence in this world – is a luxury afforded only to the respectably retired, or children.

Let’s change all that, let’s aim to be Time Millionaires & stay blessed forever.