To try and understand a functional value of time, let’s look at it like this: “in transport economics, the value of time is the opportunity cost of the time that a traveller spends on his/her journey. In essence, this makes it the amount that a traveller would be willing to pay in order to save time, or the amount they would accept as compensation for lost time.” (1)
But what does time mean to you? Isn’t it more than just functional? To some, there isn’t enough of it, and they wish that there were more hours in the day. To others, time is an illusion and they long for the control to move it as their moods dictate, encouraging the things they like to linger and the moments they despise to be lost. If we take the emotion out of what time means to us, it becomes a simple yet essential way for civilization to measure progress and maintain a record of key events through which we can view our lives with perspective. Aristotle suggested that time is a kind of order through which we are able to understand the past, present and future; through the changes that occur, meaning that if there was no change, time would be meaningless.
If we consider that how we use our time is not equal, we can learn to work with the time available to us to be the most impactful we can be. For instance, if we invest our time in others, we are likely to create strong relationships. If we invest our time in business, we are likely to make profits. If we invest our time in physical activity, we are likely to have better health. Time has always been a force, which in the realm beyond motion, is a philosophical construct best understood as an irreducible element or concept required to construct reality. And if we truly embrace the value that time has over the outcomes in our lives, we can earn the power we crave to be more in control of how we live our lives.
Functionally, time can be measured by effort and output and can be broken down into pounds and pence. Yet, time is a rare treasure that goes beyond the economical and sometimes can have more value than we give it. The award winning Mastercard advertising campaign brought this idea to life with its “priceless campaign”. It showed us that while almost everything can be bought (with a Mastercard of course), there are some things that you can’t put a value on – such as spending time with family and the memories you create together or the immeasurable value of certain materialistic belongings whose true value lies in its journey across time. In these instances, we have to give in to the reality that time is more than simply the tik tok of the hands on a time piece and it is the creator of value due to its ability to provide moments that can never be replaced.
In our journey towards perfecting our craft, or simply being true to ourselves and pursuing our passions, time is likely our most valuable commodity because it is irreplaceable. Unlike more tangible resources like oil or water, time can’t be sourced from a different location or be reused. Its savage efficiency at achieving a singular goal or constantly looking ahead is undeniably meant to drive progress and to encourage the human spirit in both success and failure. Time has the power to heal but also to encourage and while we may celebrate particular moments in time more than others, time as a whole, has an enormous impact on who we were meant to be, who we are and who we ultimately become. So learn from the past, embrace the present and look forward to the future because no matter what, time will never stop ticking!