Time: The Only Unrecoverable Resource
We all have been or still are or know someone else who is the type of person who will burn up days, weeks, months, years, decades, a whole life on a decision in order to find the best deal or best price or best value. Ultra-effective people don’t do this. People who’ve grown businesses from essentially nothing don’t do this. People who build incredible wealth don’t do this. Because time is more valuable than anything. Once spent, it’s gone forever.
I know people who will lose 50 hours of their personal time in order to save a few bucks. They clearly never studied business or econ. Depending on what your time is worth, that 50 hours could represent a 500-50,000 dollar loss. You “saved” 30 dollars. Lol. Good for you. You lost thousands. AND, no matter how much money you spend, as long as you’re alive or have investments setup for next-of-kin after your death, you can make it back. Time spent is never recovered. A day passes. That day is GONE. Forever. You NEVER get that day back.
Some people figure this out and pay for time savings, expertise, etc. Why do you think companies hire employees? The founders and higher-ups in many cases are plenty capable to do any of those jobs; but they are trying to scale their impact without losing any more time. Paying someone 40k, 80k, 200k per year is worthwhile, if it saves them more time. Remember this when you negotiate salary or variable/bonus.
This becomes painfully clear in the business-owner sphere. If ten hours of effort can yield two grand, all chore-level work is literally a massive loss if you don’t pay someone else to do it. You think you’re saving 20 bucks by not paying someone to mow your lawn; but you’re actually losing hundreds of dollars. Plus, that time is GONE.
Likewise with schooling, any subject can be learned with self-study. All universities have test-out procedures for a fraction of the price of a full course. But you pay for expertise (the instructor and the structure of the lessons) in order to save time. I tested out of year one collegiate Greek, year one and two collegiate Latin, and intro German. I was a good enough self-study to save money and time doing this. Usually, the opposite is true and you could burn up invaluable time trying to figure things out on your own.
I had this realization with my kids several years ago. Many decisions I made as a consequence were massive money losses. But, the money spent or lost enabled me to be with my family more. I had this clarity: I will never get this moment with my 2 year old again. I will never get age 3 again. I will never get the opportunity to play with my 4 year old again. Poof. Time vanished. Spent. It’s over. I was able to be there with them. I can still make the money which could’ve been made in those time periods, because I’m still alive and kicking. If I’d thrown the days away trying to build an empire, those ages would be gone with the clear memory of me as an absentee father. No amount of money could buy back that loss.
That’s what I see in fitness. For the most part, you don’t get another body. You don’t get another set of organs. You definitely don’t get another life timeline. A minute spent is GONE! It’s over. You can never ever get it back. Dollars come and go. But the time to invest in your health, once spent, is completely unrecoverable.
People lose this focus. I lose this focus. It’s human. I hear people futilely emphasize the price of things, not realizing the “lower cost” option is the most expensive one. You saved five bucks only to lose an entire day. You really lost infinity dollars on your sweet deal.
In business and microeconomics, the term is opportunity cost. But it’s so much bigger than that. Because different choices, different use of that time, changes everything, not just a few things. Health and fitness, therefore, create the single nuance to this time matrix problem.
A client of mine and I were discussing this with regard to fasting. There is one perspective which might see that you are sacrificing eating enjoyment by fasting for three days. But another perspective is that it may be the first time in 30 years you allowed your intestinal tract and microvilli to repair themselves. If that results in a modicum of regeneration, you might have a 10% improvement in absorption of nutrients and synthesis of serotonin. One person looks at it like the loss of three days. But in actuality it may mean achieving a whole new lease on life, physically, emotionally, and so forth. Perhaps for every day you fast you gain two more days of life for each individual. We don’t know exactly. But it wouldn’t be surprising if it worked this way precisely. What I find is that I save the time, money, and energy on food while fasting. To me, it’s an obvious net profit.
I like entertaining ideas about time as an illusion or as a physical property which came into existence with the creation of our universe. And contemplating time in a different manner may help us solve intractable scientific problems, like why there are stars which are older than the universe:
But insomuch as we can know for now, and pertaining to our lives, time is very real and very fleeting. Every moment passes, never to return.
Listen. I get it. I don’t want to spend money on costly fitness equipment or access either. But the fact is that we all spend piles of money on totally useless things which don’t benefit us in any real way. Look up statistics on vices. It’s jarring. And we throw away time, this most valuable resource and asset, like it’s worthless. Years go by, and people opt to be same or worse. What are we doing?
My good buddies and I have been having this broad conversation about regrets and opportunities. We settled on an evaluation, which was essentially that the past is unrecoverable and therefore to be appreciated, seldom regretted. Going forward, however, I would advise any reader to acutely recognize the sacredness and sanctity of time. You won’t ever get it back. If you must spend a fortune to save a minute, do it. When you can lose a dollar to gain a day, do it. Do it, when you can lose money to aggregate an improved future. You can regain almost any resource, any dollar. But you cannot and will not get a spent second back.
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