Unsurprisingly, most people focus too much on working and making money, and not enough on having more time. But shifting your mindset to prioritize time over money can have several benefits.
Studies show that those with a time-centric mindset have:
Focusing on chasing wealth is a trap, because it leads only to an increased focus on chasing wealth.
Research shows that after we make enough money to pay our bills and save for the future, making more does little for our happiness.
Even multimillionaires make the mistake of believing that money, and not time, will enrich their lives.
My colleagues surveyed a few thousand of the world's wealthiest people, asking how much they'd need to be "perfectly happy." Seventy-five percent (many of whom had a net worth of $10 million or more) said they'd need "a lot more" ($5 million to $10 million, "at the very least") to be happy.
It doesn't take a PhD in psychology to see how misguided this mindset is.
Parts of our brain drive us to choose vice over virtue. (Anyone who wants to lose weight will tell you how much they struggle: Sugar is bad but alluring. Exercise is good but hard to instigate.)
However, there are ways to start seeing time as the more critical currency that it is — and the resource that, more than any other, determines our happiness:
Implementing each of these steps depends on two activities that will become part of your time-affluent life:
Nothing less than our health and happiness depends on reversing the innate notion that time is money. It's not. Money is time.
Ashley Whillans is a behavioral scientist and assistant professor in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit at Harvard Business School. Her research is centered around how how people navigate trade-offs between time and money. Her work has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. Ashley is also the author of "Time Smart: How to Reclaim Your Time & Live a Happier Life."