I try to be generous with what I have. I love to buy people gifts when I see something that reminds me of them. I give to causes that mean something to me. I am lucky that I can even afford to lend you 50 bucks if you need it once in a while.
But there is one thing I am kind of stingy about.
There’s a saying…invest in land, because land is the one thing they can’t make any more of. I’d argue that time is also in that category. The thing with time is that we also don’t know how much we have of it, which makes it even more precious. Before we know it, it may run out.
I am guarded with my time. I never have enough. Lots of responsibilities and things to look after…my family, my job, my property. I invest a lot of time in my health. Time driving, time cooking, doing chores and errands…seems like there is very little left once everything is more or less taken care of.
Sometimes this means I look wishy washy when people make plans. Sometimes I just wait until the last minute. I preserve my time for me, just in case.
If I give you a bit of the time I have left, that really means something. I value you enough to give that precious resource that I try to guard very carefully.
So here’s the rant-ish point of this post:
Don’t waste my time.
I was recently in a situation where someone asked me to spend a morning on something for them. I reluctantly agreed, since it really wasn’t an activity I cared to do. But I kind of let myself be bullied into it, and was crabby about it all the days leading up to it. I wasted a bunch of energy being mad about it. And then, with very little fanfare or announcement, the event that I had been grouchy about got canceled at the very last minute. Like, very last minute. Meaning I had already showed up to attend and participate. So there was no chance to regroup, reschedule, refocus. Tasks that could have been taken care of on that rare quiet weekend day were put off.
Maybe other people have more flexibility with how they spend their time. Maybe I’m just a grump. But I was so damn angry after that I could have just screamed. I think I did scream, actually. I shook my head and grumbled for many days, I know.
My lesson for me: just like money, don’t give my time away if I care if it gets wasted. If I’d be angry if they don’t come through, just say no. Also, be brave enough to draw those boundaries even when I feel bullied by people who are supposed to be family or friends. No one cares about my time as much as I do. Nor can I expect them to.
What’s funny is most of the people who I would willingly give the time to are the very ones who wouldn’t dare to waste it. Maybe that’s part of what creates trust, understanding, and friendship.