We always talk about the market and customers in terms of how much disposable income they have, do we ever stop to think about another very valuable asset that we all have that is always being depleted and we can never earn more of?
I define 'disposable time' as the amount of time we have remaining for ourselves after our various commitments to work and family. This disposable time is where we have greater flexibility, whereas most of us are pretty committed to a standard number of work hours and dedicated hours to our family.
The Evolution of Disposable Time
Let's look at the evolution of disposable time with age.
During our younger years, frequent outings, dinners, social gatherings were common with 'social friends' - this would be the time period where you have a wide breadth of friends - ranging from various schools, universities, regions even. For myself, this was during my university years when I traveled for business competitions, went on exchange in Japan, and met friends of friends of friends which turned into a bigger Facebook network.
As we progress through our twenties and into our thirties, slowly you start to tighten your social circle, discovering the value in friendships and relationships that have depth. You start to spend more time with a select few who 'get' you and likely share similar values. You become more considerate about where you spend your disposable time, because with age, we usually take on more responsibility, whether that be family or a higher ranking senior role in a company, and end up having less time to indulge in hobbies, travels, and friendships.
Not a one size fits all, but for the majority, this is probably a familiar picture.
The Thought Exercise
Whereas we manage our finances and are encouraged to take note of our spending through pen and paper or even dedicated phone apps, we rarely manage our disposable time in this way.
Who do you spend the most time with outside of work and family?
Do you set aside enough time for you to unwind and relax your mind and spirit on a daily basis?
Do you set aside time for hobbies that empower and revive you?
I urge you think to think about the above and consider what you are doing for yourself, because it is important to maintain the health of your mind, body and spirit for a happy, successful life forward.
Case Study: ME
During my mid-twenties I was constantly complaining about my health - my back hurt, my feet hurt, I named my neck and shoulders 'the triangle of pain' - and I realized I was putting too much time into work and not enough into maintaining my health. We all feel we are invincible until we experience the possibility of being 'broken'. So I took action and allocated time in my calendar to attend spin class every Saturday, Yoga every Tuesday and Thursday to fix my back and get healthy. Let's get one thing straight, I have always been skinny, but skinny and healthy are NOT the same thing.
Another thing we commonly do is to invest our time into seemingly endless toxic friendships or relationships. Let's put the threshold at this level: if you have spent more than 3 months "sharing" the negative or dramatic events resulting from said friendship or relationship, it's not a 'phase' and it's time to let it go. If you can see the trainwreck from a mile away and you have done your best to right its course, you no longer have to be a part of the drama - it is perfectly okay to politely remove yourself from the conversation.
It was after I went through the above thought exercise that I slowly took action to 1 / turn around my health situation and 2 / weed out negative and/or toxic relationships in my life.
Excuses we give ourselves let us continue to live in a bubble, but it is the honest thoughts, conversations and actions that will propel us forward. So take note of how you are spending your disposable time right now, or set a time in your calendar to do it tonight so you don't forget it. It will change you for the better.