Time. It has become the most precious commodity of our generation. Owning your own limited hours on earth – instead of signing them over to an employer who tells you when you can use your days to do the things you actually want to do – is gold. However, somewhere we’ve come to believe that the truth is the other way around. Trading your time for money is the norm, its natural, its life. It’s a lie we’ve been told since a young age, first by observing our parents and then later imitating them when we dress up in our pencil skirts or ties to clock in at work at 8am.
Why are we still stuck in this Industrial Age way of thinking? Clever businessmen like Richard Branson have realised that there is more fortune to be made in giving people back their time. Virgin employees get unlimited vacation and instead of wealth, they are encouraged to embrace experiences. It’s also a philosophy that is supported by Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of Huffington Post, who believes that money and power should never be considered metrics of success.
The “money equals power” lie is perpetuated in various areas of life, making it difficult to claim back what is actually true: this is your life, filled with your decisions, and how you spend your time is your call. Of course if you don’t conform, society can make it very difficult for you to get by or to feel integrated (try flat-hunting in Cape Town without payslips).
I’ve recently claimed back my time by making the shift from corporate to being self-employed. I work harder than ever, but my time is spent working on things I love and I am free to structure my work week to include things that have no capital value: meeting a friend I haven’t seen in eight years for coffee, taking a walk with a percheron horse among the vines at Waterkloof, going for a quick SUP on the city’s canals when the mercury hits 42°C.
Choosing a non-corporate life is not the “safe” choice, but for me it has been the infinitely more rewarding one.
Like most serious decisions I’ve made in my life, this one was also accompanied with a bottle of wine.
It was December in Bloemfontein, and my dad and I were listening to old classics on his vinyl player. He had opened a bottle of Boplaas Port 1989, and it was appropriately accompanied with Jim Croce’s Time in a Bottle crackling over the speakers, “There never seems to be enough time, to do the things you want to do, once you find them…”.
I allowed the bravado found at the bottom of that Port to prevail, and I followed through with my resolution to make my time count in 2015.
Sure, I don’t sip liberally on Drappier anymore (but hell, there’s been plenty of Ultra Liquors’ Secret Cellar Brut) and I’ve been avoiding shopping malls, but I’ve never been as aware, as thankful, in my toasts to life – and that, my friend, is worth more than any paycheck I have ever taken home.