Time Value… Oh and Sorry I’m Late

Average Time Utilization Pie Chart

I turned 33 this past 7/11.  I usually try to not do much for my birthday but since that date I have been extremely busy.  Or at least it feels like it, and it feels like I have been busy doing nothing.  With my birthday recently passing, it has lead me asking myself what have I done with my time on earth?  What have I accomplished?  I’m married, no kids, I have recently changed jobs, own 2 properties and 2 time shares. Is this what I have lived for?  Is this how I have spent my time?  How have I used this life I was provided to leave a positive impact on this earth?  Have I touched the world, done meaningful work? How have I spent my 33 years on earth?  I have worked.  I have spent the majority of my life trying to just survive the proverbial “rat race”.

Why?  I’m not sure.  I would say for stuff, but I have too much stuff, and not enough time to enjoy it all.  I have spent years in environments where I was not appreciated or valued, doing a job that I was not passionate about, that stressed me out, purchasing materials that I never take the time to enjoy.  I have been miserable most of my life chasing happiness.  I have wasted time.

I do not feel like I am alone in this plight.  We give our time away chasing the dollar, money, wealth and prosperity.  While we use these terms as synonyms they are not.  One can be rich in love, rich in joy, rich in experiences and broke in pocket.  And richness isn’t wealth.  Wealth is a sustained abundance of value.  And value is subjective.

The cliché “show me what you do, and I’ll show you what you value” explains what value really is.  Value is where you spend your time.  The question is what do you value, and does it align with what you think you value?  To answer this we must look at where we spend most of our time.

So what is time?  We generally understand time to be a measure in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future.  But the truth behind time is not that direct. Huw Price, a Cambridge professor states that “time is just part of a four-dimensional space-time … and space-time itself is not fundamental but emerges out of some deeper structure.”

Time is the illusion created by our movement through a constant structure of space-time.  One can think of space-time like a large building with infinite rooms.  Time is the experience of us moving from one room to the other, it is a measure of change, the relative difference from one room and the next.  So to discover what we value we have to discover where we are going.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics state that in America we spend over 60% of our time simply surviving.  Looking at the chart below, we spend at least 68% of our time working and taking care of our basic needs.

Average Hrs Worked Weekdays Average Hrs Weekends and holidays Average % of Worked Weekdays Average % of Weekends and holidays
Personal care activities 9.34 10.16 39% 42%
Working and work-related activities 8.61 5.82 36% 24%
Watching television 3.3 4.06 14% 17%
Household activities 2.2 2.78 9% 12%
Total 23.45 22.82 98% 95%
Remainder 0.55 1.18 2% 5%

America ascribes to value  individuality.  Over 2/3 of Americans  are motivated primarily by self-interest.  This motivation sits on the back of an Americans core values of independence and freedom.  Millennials have an evolved these values.  While still valuing individuality and freedom these value have become more socially conscious.  Rather than doing all one can for ones individual self, gen-Y has chosen to value the individuality of others.  Millennials focus on going past self-interest, workers’ rights, environmental protection, tolerance and diversity. 

However there is a divide between these expressed values and the values played out in the professional workplace.  The work world must evaluate if are we adjusting to the new values.  Does corporate America support the values of the individual people living in the world?  And why or why not?

Looking at the data provided, work life balance is not a value of the green mean money churning machine.  79% of Americans believe that the generals of this army do not share the values of the rest of America.  With work hours increasing, wages stagnating and purchasing power degrading along with the quality of life and the nations overall productivity; as a collective, we must ask, to what destination are we being led and why?  And are we moving as individuals, or in mass?

“Show me where you spend your time, and Ill show you what you value.”  It would seem that we are going 6 ft under, to the basement or the cellar.  Like tools or old auto parts; Christmas lights and out dated toys.  We are going to a place of bulk resources storage.  Where we are queued for consumed or forgotten.  America values the objectification of the individual.  And the individual values being objectified.

Studies and surveys showing that we as individual human resources are unhappy with this arrangement.  Corporate values do not align with the values that America believes it has.  There is not freedom, we are mandated to spend at least 8 hrs a day at the service of others to survive.  We don’t even have adequate sick and vacation days.  Our individual ideas and opinions can be data mined from Facebook, Twitter and other social media, and held against us, barring us from employment.  Functionally decimating the idea of free speech.  We even sacrifice our individual goals for the goals and the vision of the enterprise.  This is being a good “team player”.

Ask yourself the following questions:
Am I truly happy? Cliché as this is, this is a real question.  Are you happy and fulfilled with every aspect of your life… if not, then there is an opportunity for improvement that you should capitalize on.

Is how I spend my time its own reward? The path you take through this building of the universe is yours to chart. It’s YOUR adventure and should be YOUR reward.

What do I value? List the top 5 things you value in life

How do you spend your time in a given day? List how you spend your time in order of hrs spent in a day.  If the top 5 things do not align to your top 5 values, then adjust accordingly.

I have worked for large corporate enterprises for over 10 years.  It is was what I thought I needed to do.  I discovered that I hated it.  Not working for a large enterprise in of its self, but learning what these organizations stand for, how they work, and what they do.  I further was disenfranchised with how they operate.  It caused me to think critically about the processes and cultures of these organizations I worked for.  Who got promoted and why?  What is really meant by “Human Resources”?  I often struggled with the misalignment not just with the external brand identity of corporations and actual operations, but also with the internally communicated value systems verse actual practice.  I became cynical and disgusted with corporate propaganda and false promises.  The unabashed and unapologetic inequity.  While I didn’t start this way, this feeling grew in me over time.  I spent 3 years observing and learning the system, 3 years trying to fit into the system, and over 3 years opposed to the system entirely.  But I always gave my 40+ hrs.  I never took vacation, I even worked once with pneumonia.  I spent my time, most of my time, all 33 of my years traversing rooms I hated.  I must have valued this.  I must have valued the misery, pain, stress, and inequity.  I valued not being valued.  I valued abuse and lies.  I valued it because it because that is where I spent my time.

I was have recently however been reminded that these were never my core values and that at some point in time I had lost my way.  I never wanted to work for someone else.  I never wanted to be in the system.  I wanted to change the system.  I wanted to make the world a better place.  And while I thought that my experience in the system is what I needed, and maybe it was.  After a number of years I don’t.   I didn’t see how developing custom batch data load programs for a large aeronautical engineering company served the world at large, or supported my desired ideals and values.  I want to create real value for real people.  I want to help those in need.  I want to show the world a better way to live, and maybe provide more than one.

So I left and am now making my life fit my individual priorities and values.  This does not mean that there wont be temporary sacrifices.  But working through something is different than working in something.  If I cannot align my actions to my values, then I do not need to be doing them.  If I cant wake up, pray, eat healthy, laugh and help people, then its not for me.  If I do not see how what I am doing is not moving towards positive world impact, then I need not be doing it.  There are always many doors in each room of our personal journey, and we must choose those that take us where we want to go.  We must align our time to our own values, as time is valuable.  A phrase that is used to exemplify one of the key ideals and values of American society is “time is money”.   This is actually not true.  Time is much more valuable, because you can never get it back.  Money on the other hand…. Well that’s for a different post.

References and more interesting reading:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time
http://www.space.com/29859-the-illusion-of-time.html
http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.htm
http://www.bls.gov/tus/charts/chart1.pdf
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/06/21-charts-that-explain-american-values-today/258990/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2015/02/25/the-6-values-held-by-millennial-customers-how-well-does-your-company-stack-up/
http://business.time.com/2013/08/19/americas-productivity-problem/

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