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The One Thing Rich People Know About Time That You Should Too

How much are you willing to invest in free time?

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I’ve always been a big fan of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. According to Maslow, all human beings start with the basic physiological needs—that is needs to survive, such as food, water, clothing, and shelter. From there, things ladder up to safety, love and belonging, esteem, and finally, self-actualization.

For Maslow, self-actualization was becoming the best of your potential, to be what you could be. Many of us long for those, though few achieve it. And you could argue that those who reach the level of self-actualization are constantly creating new areas of achievement.

The fact is that the most successful people in the world are those who excel at living at the level of self-actualization. But there is a key to achieving this level of need that may not be readily apparent—it is, literally, making time.

Making time to succeed

If you’ve ever had the nagging feeling that you weren’t living up to your full potential, you’ve felt the tug of self-actualization. For most people, that’s where it stops, at the tug. After all, we’re all very good at making excuses as to why something we long to accomplish is impractical or impossible to accomplish. Sure, it sounds nice in theory, but who’s got the time?

If you think about it, if there’s one thing extremely successful people seem to have, it’s lots of time. You may have asked this at one time, “How do they get so much done?” It seems like successful people have an unnatural ability to do more than the average person.

You may be tempted to think this is because of a harder work ethic, or because they put in the hours. And while that can be true for a few, the reality is that most successful people understand the value of time—and of creating by delegating tasks that suck time up.

A waste of money?

When I was growing up, I always admired rich people who could hire maids and butlers to do their housework for them.

My poor dad felt that at best it was a waste money to hire people who could do the work you could do yourself. At worst, he felt that it was showing off your wealth.

My rich dad, on the other hand, had no problem hiring people to help him do menial tasks. “Your most important asset is time,” said rich dad. “The difference between a poor person and a rich person is how they use their time—and what they’re willing to pay for when it comes to time.” Plus, he knew that by hiring people to help him cook, clean, and do chores around the house, he was helping them feed their own families.

My poor dad always did his own menial tasks and would never dream of hiring someone to do them for him. But he also complained that there was never enough time to do all the things he wanted to do. For some reason, he never saw the connection.

My rich dad, on the other hand, often paid people to do time-consuming tasks for him, and seemed to have unlimited time to accomplish great things. He understood that his time was valuable and that a small investment in a house cleaner and cook afforded him the opportunity to do high-value tasks with his time that only he could do.

This is, of course, the principle upon which every successful business is built: hire employees to do specialized tasks so that the business owner can focus his or her time on building and growing the business. Many rich people are rich because they understand this concept and apply it both to business and to life.

Buying time = buying happiness

And there is another upside to this approach to life: happiness. It’s often said that money can’t buy you happiness, and while that may be true, what money can buy you can make you happy.

As Harvard Business School reports, “New research finds that we’d all be much happier and healthier campers if we eased up on the cooking, scrubbing, and grocery shopping and instead threw a little money at these problems.”

Professor Ashley V. Whileans, who helped conducted the study, points out that many people have no problem saving “for vacations, personal experiences, going out for nice meals, and health care,” but don’t seem to feel free to save up and pay for services that would free up time.

Yet, according to her study, after receiving $40 to spend over a weekend on either a material item like a bottle of wine or on time-saving purchases, “people reported that spending money on time-saving purchases left them in a better mood than spending money on material goods.”

And when you’re in a better mood, you’re more pre-disposed to do your best work on things you care about—like build that side business. Ideas flow, productivity increases, and barriers are broken.

It’s time to take back your time

If you continue to fight that nagging feeling that you could be doing more, don’t push it away. Instead, I encourage you to take a look at how you can invest in creating more time to focus on the passions and goals you have for yourself. Rather than look at a housekeeper as an expense, view it as an investment so that you can achieve your goals and dreams. The key, of course, is to use your free time to do something constructive that moves you toward self-actualization, not just sit on the couch and binge-watch Netflix.

Today, start thinking like the rich when it comes to your time…and just maybe you’ll be rich in no time.

Original publish date: December 19, 2017

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