Is your time just money – or is it something more? For those of us pursuing purposeful lives, we know making a certain amount of money doesn’t necessarily add up to happiness. When we talk about true wealth, time isn’t the only variable in our pursuit of abundance either. Doing what you love and letting the money follow is a nice idea too, but it’s not the only way to inner peace.

What then is missing here?

Discovering the “why” behind your daily activities can bring about clarity and true satisfaction. When you know why you’re spending the time to do something (a.k.a. it’s my passion, it’s my hobby, it’s my calling), it inevitably aligns with your overall goals.

Tick Tock…Think About Your Time

In 2011, researchers from Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania published a report in the Journal of Consumer Psychology titled, “If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy, Consider Time.”

In it, they talk about how happiness is a result of the choices we make. For people to increase satisfaction, and live more abundantly, they should spend their time wisely. When you don’t, you wind up sitting in bed at night regretting all the things you didn’t do with your day.

Of course, we’d all love not to have to work, as it’s often touted as getting in the way of spending time with others, such as our loved ones. But that’s not true for some people. When you find your personal “sweet spot,” working is how you want to spend your time.

“We know that people with meaningful social connections are happier than those without them,” one of the researchers said. “The more time that individuals spend with their partners, best friends, and close friends, the happier they are. When they spend time with people who they dislike, or when they spend time alone, their happiness levels drop. Loneliness is a relatively good predictor of unhappiness.”

This same researcher said that encouraging people to think about “time versus money” usually drives them to make more time to foster those connections. In a nutshell, thinking about time—truly being mindful of how you want to spend yours—has a strong effect on how we behave. For example, if you think about the 48 hours you have available on a weekend, and what you want to do with them, you probably want to spend this finite period with people you love. Without being mindful of that, however, you may spend the weekend on a nagging chore instead.

Conscious Time Management

We all have things we’d rather not do, such as mow the lawn or take our cars in for an oil change. Those things have to get done, but we do have say over how we schedule them into our time. Sometimes, the things you want to spend your time doing involve effort, such as making a call to friends to set up a spur-of-the-moment barbeque. The initial calls can feel like just another chore, but as a result of setting up that social gathering, you will feel better in the long run—and be pleased you devoted your time to people in your life, instead of that laundry list of to do items.

You have to do the work, but just because it involves effort doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Sometimes we just need that initial awareness of knowing how we want to spend our time—and make a little concerted effort—to align our time with our deepest intentions.

Money may be plentiful, but time isn’t always so. So, the question isn’t necessarily, “How will you spend your next 24 hours?” It’s “How do you want to spend it and what will you do to truly feel ‘rich’ and abundant?” Choice is a beautiful thing.

Sources:  If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy, Consider Time, Stanford Business