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  • Writer's pictureSubha

Why Paying For Time Doesn't Come Easy

Updated: Apr 22

Let the hours add up meaningfully.

time value of money

Summer jobs. You know, the kind where teenagers in other parts of the world are braving the heat, flipping burgers at McDonald’s, or pretending to enjoy the “customer-is-always-right” philosophy while working the checkout at a supermarket. Meanwhile, in our slice of the globe, India, it’s almost like you’re either stuck working year-round to fund the family or chilling in a no-summer-job-needed utopia.

And here’s the kicker — we’ve missed the valuable lesson that time is money, and one hour’s work deserves one hour’s pay. By picking up odd jobs and letting the hours add up, there is a great learning: that any kind of labour - physical or intellectual - uses an individual’s time and accumulated skills and needs to be compensated accordingly.

In our world, we often see tasks, not the hours invested in them. Househelp is paid monthly for a task. Some days, it may take them two hours, and some days four hours, but it’s all meant to even out in the end and result in a fixed price. If there is demand for more pay in a heavily loaded month, it is usually not welcome. Don’t the months even out across the year?!

In larger professional jobs, the norm is a fixed price — the salary. But, hey, welcome to the gig economy era! We’re knee-deep in a world where individuals offer you nuggets of their time, the expertise they’ve meticulously crafted over the years. So, here’s the deal: when you tap into their knowledge pool, be ready to shell out for those 15 minutes of the doctor’s wisdom just as you would for a solid hour of a consultant, expert, or coach’s undivided attention.

Time is money, especially when it comes wrapped in years of hard-earned skills.

If we were all forced to earn by the hour, we would appreciate the value of paying for the hour.

And now that the hour is upon us, what will you invest in? Just like paper cash goes into different asset classes, let’s learn to invest in ourselves. This is not merely a financial transaction but a holistic approach that spans career, social connections, self-care, and health.

1. Career Capital:

In the dynamic career landscape, it’s easy to get caught in the routine rhythm without appreciating continuous improvement. Productivity expert Cal Newport's concept of career capital- the skills, knowledge, and expertise that make you more valuable in the job market and your current workplace- is gaining prominence.

Why does this matter? The line between human work and artificial intelligence is blurring in the foreseeable future. A work colleague might soon be an AI system, automating routine tasks and leaving humans to focus on tasks that require creativity, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence—or just turning the AI on.

Investing in skills that are less susceptible to automation becomes paramount. While staying proficient in your current role is essential, it’s equally crucial to anticipate the skills that will be in demand in the next five years. This is where career capital comes into play — it’s about acquiring skills that not only align with your current job but also position you as a valuable asset in the future job market.

In India, where the cultural fabric is woven with reverence for stable career paths, embracing this mindset shift can be challenging. However, the investment in learning and acquiring new skills is an investment in your adaptability and resilience in the face of an ever-changing work landscape.

Investing in your career involves more than just acquiring new skills; it’s about seeking guidance, mentorship, and, when needed, professional coaching.

But let’s reframe this: when you invest in a career coach, you’re not just paying for their time; you’re investing in accelerated growth, refined skills, and the confidence to navigate your professional journey effectively.

2. Social Wealth:

Your network is your net worth. This adage holds truer than ever in our interconnected world. Social connections are not just about the number of contacts in your LinkedIn profile; it’s about meaningful relationships that can shape your personal and professional life.

Investing time in networking events, industry meet-ups, or even a casual coffee with a colleague isn’t just a social nicety; it’s a strategic investment in your social wealth. These connections can open doors to opportunities, collaborations, and diverse perspectives. So, while free webinars have been tucked away, like our cotton masks, let’s be willing to pay for conferences, industry events, and communities that bring together people you want to know, partner with or even sell to!

3. Self-Care and Health:

In the cacophony of modern life, self-care often takes a back seat. However, it’s a non-negotiable investment. Whether it’s dedicating time to mindfulness, regular exercise, or cultivating a hobby, these are investments with compounding returns in the currency of mental and physical well-being.

Yet, we hesitate when it comes to fitness trainers, nutritionists, or mental health professionals. Why? We struggle to assign a value to their time. We need a paradigm shift—a realization that investing in our health is an investment in our future selves.

Let’s recognize the value of expertise. A trainer or yoga teacher carving out one hour for you is an investment that will give back for years. So maybe skip the free YouTube video when you are a beginner and get the asana right with an expert in the room.

Shifting the Paradigm:

For India to truly embrace the concept of valuing someone’s time, we need a cultural shift. It’s about recognizing that an hour of a professional’s time is not just a unit on the clock; it’s a culmination of years of dedication, continuous learning, and a wealth of expertise.

So, as we step into the new year, let’s challenge ourselves to break free from the shackles of underestimating the worth of time—both our own and that of the professionals who can guide us on our journey. Invest wisely, invest intentionally, and watch how the currency of self-investment transforms your life in ways you never imagined.

Here’s to a year of profound self-investment!

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