Illustration: Prawny. Source: Pixabay
I often find myself running from one task to the next, glancing at the time, hoping that there won’t be construction or a school bus along the route to make me late. But why? Why do we find ourselves in such a hurry, despite all the reminders we set for ourselves – on our smartphones, on our planners, even with our friends. “Please remind me to leave on time!”
The Stoic philosopher Seneca has a pithy observation on this subject in one of his letters: “We aren’t given a short life, but we make it short. We aren’t ill-supplied, but wasteful of our time.” If we look carefully, we see it everywhere: people wasting time, throwing it away in meaningless activities. When we see folks throw their money away we think that’s crazy. But time is far more valuable than money. We don’t know how much we have, and we can never make any more.
Consider the ways that we waste time: meetings that have no agenda and result in no decisions. They’re half-updates and half-gossip. Smartphones that make us dumb and dumber. They’ve taken the place of what we used to call, the “boob-tube.” Reports and books that we merely skim, giving ourselves the form of learning without the substance. We’re like the literature student who remembers, “Call me Ishmael,” and thinks they know Moby-Dick.
Ahab confronting mortality. Illustration: I.W.Taber. Source: Wikimedia
Time is a lot like money. When we complain that we don’t have enough, what we’re really doing is confessing that we didn’t plan well. People aren’t short of funds, they’re long on their expenses. We aren’t short of time, we’re too optimistic about what we can accomplish.
A good investment plan is like a good schedule: it has goals and limitations, it considers our individual personalities and both what we can do and what we can’t do. And it must be realistic, considering the bond, stock, and property markets’ long-run and more recent performance.
If we’re wise with what we have, there’s usually enough. No one ever was sorry they spent much time planning.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Charter Trust Company
“The Best Trust Company in New England”