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The Dynamics of Time, Energy and Money

  • 10 min read

What do you want to experience, do or create right now?

Whatever it is, you will need to invest one or more of the following:

  • Money
  • Time
  • Energy

These are the 3 main personal resources exchanged in the modern world.

(Some people might argue this list is incomplete. And should include other things like knowledge, experience and connections.  But those are generally acquired through an investment of the above 3 as well. The same is true for all commodities.)

This probably isn’t news to you.  But few people take the time to investigate the relationships between these 3 resources and what they may mean for your life and decisions.  So let’s have a look!

Time

Each of us is born with a finite amount of time.  And we can’t know how much.

You could die at 90 years old, or you could’ve already died before reading this. (In which case, welcome, my first ghost reader.)

There’s no way to predict this. So there’s no way to know how much time you really have. 

Unlike money, once time is spent on something, it’s impossible to get more of it.

Sure, you can slap on some anti-aging cream.  But that won’t stop anyone from getting hit by a truck or swallowed by the anaconda that escaped from the zoo yesterday.

Time can only be acquired with money.  But even then, it’s not 100% true:

You don’t gain “more” time, but more options for what to invest that time in.

(So no, the old adage that “time is money” is far from true.  They are different things, and time is generally more valuable.)

One interesting thing about time is that in reality, it doesn’t exist as a resource.  We can’t just pay for something with time.  When we invest “time” in something, what we mean is that we invest energy in something for a sustained period.

Energy

Energy is your ability to do things.

No matter how much time you have, if you’re not physically, mentally or emotionally able to do something, you won’t get it done.

In theory, energy is an infinite resource.  You can always get more of it. But it operates according to certain rules. Energy will naturally deplete and increase in cyclical waves. 

In fact, our concept of “time” is a theoretical framework to count these energetic cycles:

  • A year is the amount of time it takes for the earth to revolve around the sun (recharging the energy of its natural ecosystems).
  • A month is the time it takes for the moon to revolve around the earth (recharging a woman’s sexual energy, among others).
  • A day is the time it takes for the earth to revolve around its own axis (recharging your physical and mental energy levels).
  • A minute is the time it takes for a millennial’s attention span to revolve around the social media feed (recharging our ability to be inspired)

So once you’ve invested energy in something, the easiest way to get more energy again is to align with its natural cycles.

If you don’t align with them and keep expending energy, you may overheat (and ultimately get a “burnout”).  Not recharging properly reduces battery life.  And when you try to “skip” cycles of charging it takes longer to recover. Turns out you’re not that different from a duracell bunny.

And just like with batteries, after decades of recharging them, the amount of energy with which we’re able to charge ourselves might decrease (AKA aging) .

There are many ways to increase the amount of energy available to you, including:

  • Increasing the energetic charge you can tolerate in your body
  • Avoiding activities and people that drain your energy
  • Engaging with activities and people that replenish your energy

But those are beyond the scope of this article.

Money

Money, like time, is a fascinating resource in the sense that it doesn’t really exist.  Yet we spend an enormous amount of energy thinking about it.

We all believe in money.  But just like Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and the hair on Donald Trump’s head…it only exists for those who believe in it.

A unique thing about money is that it’s only resource which can get you access more of all 3 (and can be acquired through all 3).

Money can get you:

  • More money
  • More time
  • More energy (by giving you more time to recharge or paying for things that nourish you)

While money is in theory a finite resource (there’s only X amount of money in the world at a given time), we should consider it an infinite resource.  Because:

  1. After spending it, you can acquire more of it.­
  2. There’s no way that you will reach the point at which no more money exists that you can acquire.
  3. Unlike time, your money has no cycles of waxing and waning (the economy has, but that’s for another post).

More than with time and energy, we all have strong beliefs and patterns inherited from childhood that influence our ability to acquire it.

But since money is not real, neither can our beliefs about it be based on reality.

On both ends of the spectrum of these beliefs, you can get in serious trouble.

Overly positive beliefs:

At this point people see the huge potential power and possibility that money represents. But fail to see that money is not real.  Money now becomes the end goal itself instead of a resource to achieve an end goal.

For such people, money fills the void that God left once religion fell out of fashion.  But it cannot fill the void created by worshipping something that doesn’t exist.  So at this point, you always want more, hoping that a certain amount of money will finally fill it.  The pursuit of money eventually consumes all your own energy, after which it starts requiring you to consume other people’s energy.  Leading to things like corruption, and abusing or enslaving others to keep your profit margins high.    (People used to call this “the worship of Mammon”.)

Overly negative beliefs:

If you believe that money is the root of all evil, that money corrupts or that all rich people are predatory, then you will never allow yourself to have too much money.

After all, why would you want to have a bunch of resources that make you evil?  Better to keep it away from you.

On the surface this looks better than the overly positive belief.  You could say “ah, there goes somebody who is content with enough, instead of never being satisfied.”

But how do you know that the belief that you have “enough” is not just defense mechanism created to stop yourself from becoming what you judge as evil?

I have met plenty of people who claim they have enough, yet suffer emotionally from a believing they live in an evil society were rich people  are our oppressors.  And if you read between the lines, that story actually means “I don’t have enough, because evil rich people keep me deprived.  And I won’t allow myself to do what’s needed to have more, because that would make me like them. “

I’ve also met people who say they have enough with very little and who actually look satisfied (which would be the definition of having enough).  But those people usually don’t have any negative beliefs about money.  They simply, genuinely have enough with what they have.

So unless you can confidently say that you wouldn’t mind being rich, be aware that your negative beliefs may cause you to be in denial of some of your needs and desires.

Neutral beliefs:

While the beliefs on both sides of the spectrum are toxic, anexample of a healthy belief is to just see money as a token currency for energy.  Because as we’ll see, acquiring money always requires energy.

Money in itself is not bad or good.  It simply represents the energy.

The unethical capitalist is no different from the person who “drains your energy” when you’re with them.

Someone who uses their money to pave new roads in their country, host a festival or research a cure for cancer, is no different from someone “gives you energy” when you’re around them.

And those qualities are not mutually exclusive. People are complex.

How Money Represents Energy

Generally speaking, energy can be exchanged for money in 2 ways:

  1. Energy applied to an outcome for a certain period of time = payment
  2. Energy applied until an outcome is achieved = payment

This energy can either be your own, or other people’s (for example, when you hire people).

Most of the time, working as an employee means you get paid for A. and working as a business owner means you get paid for B.

The rate at which you can trade energy for money depends on:

  1. The efficiency with which you can use that energy to achieve an outcome
  2. The type outcome you can achieve with it
  3. The scale at which you can deliver that outcome.

For example:

Washing dishes is an easy outcome to achieve.  No matter how efficiently you do it, the amount of money that energy will get you is fairly low.

Lawyering a document is harder.  Therefore, you can get paid more.  However, if you’re not a lawyer, it may take you months (or years)  of research to properly lawyer a document.  Not very efficient. Few people will pay you for it (unless they can’t afford a lawyer).  A lawyer can use his energy more efficiently, therefore gets paid more.

A manager tends to get paid more than their team members, because the energy the manager invests can increase the efficiency of the energy usage of everyone else, meaning that more outcomes are achieved in the same time (higher ROI).

If you teach one man how to fish in person, you can make some money.  But if you can teach a million people how to fish on the internet (charging them less per person), you can make a lot more money.  You delivered the outcome at a larger scale.

If you want to increase your income, tweak these factors.

Decreasing the amount of energy you expend to achieve an outcome could like like:

  • Finding a way to automate your work
  • Improving your work process
  • Considering this before calling meetings: Each meeting requires the energy of every person in it.  That means the outcome should be greater than what would happen if all these people were to work individually.  Can you ensure that?

Conclusions

If you paid close attention and read between the lines of this article, you may have already come to these conclusions yourself:

  1. You can always “get” more money, but the money in reality represents energy.  Knowing that energy re-charges through cycles, and that skipping energy cycles is bad for your battery life, it’s usually not worth spending energy you don’t have in exchange for money.
  2. Energy is the only real currency.  Money and time are abstractions to help us quantify it.
  3. Obtaining more time and money actually means obtaining more energy.  And you obtain it by…. Becoming more efficient and effective at achieving outcomes with the energy you have.   So it basically comes down to saving your energy and spending it wisely.

But the most important thing I invite you to consider after reading this article is this:

We spend a lot of time worrying about time and money. 

And when we do, we usually take decisions which involve sacrificing the natural cycles which recharge our energy.  Since time and money are imaginary abstractions of energy, that means we’re actually creating a loss in such situations.

So next time you find yourself stressed about money or time, ask yourself:

How can I use my deepened understanding of the interconnection between these 3 resources to react to this situation in a way that increases the total amount of energy available to me?


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