Now's The Time

One of the first things I learned as a freelancer was how to value my time. Initially, in the financial sense. Then, as something I could invest in who and what mattered most to me. Here are a few thoughts on putting that idea to work in the new year.

Now's The Time

Painting by  Rogue Citizen  at  Modist Brewing  in Minneapolis, MN

Painting by Rogue Citizen at Modist Brewing in Minneapolis, MN

My first of many stints of self-employment started unexpectedly and unceremoniously about six months after I graduated from college, when the company I’d been working for ceased to exist more or less overnight. And the first thing I learned while reckoning with my immediate future as a job-free citizen of The Land of Opportunity was the truth of the ancient bromide, “time is money.”

Initially, this was a strictly economic proposition: How much should I charge for an hour of time spent in the service of assembling wayward ideas and words into marketable commodities? And more importantly, whom could I persuade to pay me that sum? But as I settled into a practice of pitching myself to a series of mostly tolerant and understanding strangers and earning something that resembled a living, I learned to regard my time not just as something I could be paid for, but something that had value in and of itself. Something that I could invest.

The tricky thing about time is that we always think we’ll have more of it, or at least enough of it. And like all commodities that we perceive as essentially infinite, we don’t tend to value it highly enough until it runs out. And — spoiler alert — it always runs out.

So as the last hours of this year give way to the first moments of a new one, I want to encourage you to place the highest possible value on your time, and to invest it with purpose. In the people who make your life more enjoyable and more interesting. In work that consistently rewards and challenges you. In ideas and causes that make your town, your country, and this terrestrial ball we all share a little better. In experiences that transform you, give you new perspective, and leave you with great stories to tell for years to come. And most of all, in doing more of whatever makes you happy. Because life’s too damn short for anything less.