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“ Income appears to buy happiness, but the exchange rate isn’t great.” Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener

Let’s gloss over the standard personal development book example of the multi-millionaire who isn’t happy despite his riches. That’s a bit cliché these days. Particularly if you conclude that it’s nice to arrive at your depression in a nicer car.

I am in many respects a lucky man. I’m not ‘rich’ in financial terms. But I have a paid-for home, and I have enough money, insurance and income to cover most potential challenges, along with a complete psychological resistance to spending any of it. (That’s probably the result of not having any for such a long time.) I also have a lovely family.

(Which is not to say that sponsorship so that I can take up motor-racing would not be gratefully received and wisely invested. 🙂 )

The challenge is that we all, I suggest, want more. That is a ‘good thing’. That is a ‘good thing’ because if we didn’t, many businesses would grind to a halt, people would starve because we weren’t paying them for those things we want.

Imagine Apple if no-one wanted the new iPad-that-looks-just-like-the-old-iPad 6 months after we got that old iPad? (And isn’t it interesting how spellcheckers recognise iPad?)

We all want more for another reason, and that is because we are, as a species, goal-oriented. Unlike my dog, who will sit there all day until I say ‘Tatters’ or move towards the cupboard where we keep her lead, we all want to do something. We want to get somewhere or something, or we want to be doing what floats our boat. Unfortunately, for many of us, that can only be achieved through getting the money to pay for it.

Which demonstrates that having money is not the objective. The objective is what we can get with that money. And it is completion of that objective that makes us happy – not the money, nor the work we do to get it.

Which in turn means that finding ways to be happy that don’t cost money is as valid and valuable a pastime as any other. (And such happiness, ironically, saves us the money we can spend on other things. Mind-numbing.)

Therefore ‘Being happy’ is the Ultimate Objective for our management of time and everything we do, we do towards that end. So it means that in order to spend as much of our time doing the things that make us happy, we need to minimise the time we spend on the support functions to happiness.

Which means maximising the productivity we are capable of in that minimum time spent being productive, so that we can maximise happy time.

(Read that again, or maybe three times – I had to.)

Time costs nothing. We all have exactly the same number of hours in a day. Bill Gates can’t buy any more than I have.

But he spends his time better than most of us, doesn’t he?

There’s the lesson for today.

Maximise the value of the time you have ‘making money’, so that the things that don’t cost money – love and happiness – can have lots of time spent on them.