I'm entering my last year of college, and as funny as it sounds, I'm feeling pretty old at 21. In more fully understanding how quickly time passes, I've also gained a newfound appreciation for it. A lot of my focus has been directed toward the next phase of life and my own aspirations of defining and achieving success, but I've found it helpful to remind myself I have more of something now than I'll ever have again: time.
There's this quote from a Tim Ferriss podcast with Graham Duncan, the co-founder of East Rock Capital that I read in a blog post by Anthony Pompliano on the same subject, and I think it articulates the concept well:
Graham: I was thinking of time billionaires that when I see, sometimes, 20-year-olds – the thought I had was they probably have two billion seconds left. But they aren’t relating to themselves as time billionaires. And I was thinking about how if you could – what would Rupert Murdoch, who’s worth $20 billion – he’s 87 years old. What would he pay if he could take the next five years of someone’s 20-year-old healthy body, mind, etc.? And for that 20-year-old, how would they price it? Because I was thinking at various points of my career, I might have sold the next five years for something.
And over time, my pricing has gone vertical because the next five years, if I were to lose – and the key to this question is that you can’t sell the five at the end of your life. You gotta sell them right now. I don’t know how I’d price it because my kids are of a certain age that they’ll never be again. But I don’t know that I live every day that way. But I aspire to.
What really did it for me was the example Graham gave about Rupert Murdoch's willingness to pay for those extra years. Really, you can fill the blank in with any name, cash billionaire or not. When pressed, people will always opt to be younger rather than richer.
This is because time is quite literally priceless. It wouldn't matter whether Murdoch had one dollar or a trillion of them. He can't buy time. Trading time for money at a 9 to 5 and doing nothing to leverage it starts to seem pretty dumb once you realize this.
The next best option available to us is resolving to live healthily and learning to leverage our time effectively (both of which I plan on writing about in the future). Whether you're reclaiming time, buying time back or buying other people's time, getting more than 24 hours in a day is an art in itself.
Turning back to my end-of-college crisis, we can reframe time for what it really is with regard to finding success in life: a competitive advantage. Greater time gives you a greater ability to lengthen your time horizon, a greater ability to experiment, and a greater ability to recover from setbacks.
As George Bernard Shaw put it, "Youth is wasted on the young." Many of us are time billionaires but squander it. It's natural for us as humans to squander what we think we have an abundance of. The rest is left to recognizing that advantage and choosing to live with intention.