So far I’ve talked a lot about money, but actually of the two things in the title of this post it’s time that’s more important. Money flows in and out, but time goes in one direction only, and there’s nothing you can do to change that (unless you’re going to get into some very weird areas of physics).
Just under a year ago I stopped working full-time. The reason was that I was going to start studying, but all of a sudden it got much easier to fit everything in: exercise, eating properly, keeping in touch with people, getting enough sleep. This despite the fact that I’d been self-employed and working from home for years, so I already had much more freedom than your average office worker.
That got me thinking about other things I wanted to find the time for. For example, although I’d spent six years living in Spain until 2011 I’d never quite got round to looking into Spanish cinema. I’d also been meaning to learn some fancier cooking for ages, plus I had books I’d bought a year or more before that were still sitting on shelves unread.
That was in February. Since then I’ve started touch-typing, improved my posture, started tango lessons, joined a gym, passed some Dutch exams, moved house and been to France, England and Japan. Oh, and watched Los girasoles ciegos. In the last nine months I’ve got round to things I’d been putting off for years, and every weekday morning I have what to me is a wonderful luxury: a slow start. That’s quite apart from studying for a degree, the reason I stopped working full-time in the first place! I hope I can keep things going this way as my life changes over the next few years.
The trouble is, of course, that any change for the better becomes the new norm pretty quickly: if you’re not careful, something that seems wonderful when you first get it – a fancy new phone, a pay rise, a less stressful schedule – seems completely ordinary once the novelty wears off. I recently found out this is called hedonic adaptation, but whatever you call it it’s what tends to happen naturally. So if you want to enjoy good things that happen, and keep getting the most out of them, you have to make a point of continuing to appreciate them. That’s just as important as having good things happen in the first place, but it’s something you have to learn to do, and then do deliberately.
Is there anything you’ve been putting off for ages? Do find it impossible to make time for things? Is there anything that would make every day feel a little luxurious to you, the way my slow mornings do for me?