Saturday, August 16, 2014


Do you know what 168 stands for?
For those who do not know that number, let me give you some hints. 168 represents something very valuable, yet often taken for granted. It's also represents something that most people would think is far less. Ready for the answer?
Drum-roll, please.
168 represents the number of hours in a week.
When I ask this question to many people, the answer surprises them. I often ask the question in response to someone inquiring about how I spend my time these days. When they hear what 168 represents, they first smile to themselves as they do their own silent calculations -- 7 days times 24 hours a day equals 168.
But the best part is when they look again at me and grin. For in that moment, they realize that 168 is a pivotal number for me and that I am transmitting a message with my question. Before they can speak, I do a little more math for them. I start by stating that if I sleep 7 hours a day, which is my target, I will use 49 hours of the 168 a week. That leaves 119 hours at my disposal.
That also leaves 119 hours at anyone's disposal that sleeps 7 hours a night. If you work, subtract at least another 40 to 60 hours that includes transportation time and you are left with a neat 59 to 79 hours to eat, shop, bathe, toilet, have sex, and generally meet human needs. That may knock of another 25 to 30 hours off a week leaving you with a sum total of a low of 29 to a high of 54 hours.
Depending on the speed at which you do life, you should have time left over for more pleasant activities such as parenting (both to children and your own parents; yes, I know that it's not always pleasant), enjoying hobbies, reading, exercising, watching (may not actually be better), and socializing.
I suggest you do your own tally and figure out how you spend each week.
Why bother?
Two reasons.
First, as you only go around once, don't you want to figure out if you are making the best use of your time? It seems that many people don't appreciate the value of their current time and instead 'plan' to make good use of time only when they retire.
That's a shame. You never know what life may bring when you retire, such a state of health, and you shouldn't wait for it.
Second, and far more personal to me, retirement for most people doesn't appear to be all that great. What, you may say? Are you crazy? You may feel that when you retire, you won't have to set your alarm clock, get ready for work, travel to work, work all day to make a living, go home, and repeat the same regiment the next day. Wouldn't that be great? I know I felt that way.
Then I retired. I like to read, watch, socialize, eat, have sex, shower, sleep, exercise, etc. The problem is that even when I'm done, I'm still left with too much time to spend. (No speedy sex jokes, please)
Okay, you may say, how about some charitable or volunteer work? I've tried that by getting involved in community, non-profit work. It just wasn't all that satisfying for me because there always seemed to be more talking than action. In fact, it almost seemed like people joined these boards to hear themselves speak. (By the way, I'm not saying that such organizations don't play an important role--just that they weren't my cup of tea.)
So what's my point here?
Stop wasting your time because you never know what you will find at the end of the rainbow. Find work that you enjoy if that is possible. Work is for most people a necessity, but that doesn't always mean you have to spend spend your life doing unpleasant work in the hope that retirement, even an early one, will make it all worth it. A terminally ill cancer patient once told me that no one states on their death bed that they wished they had spent more time at the office.
So back to 168 hours a week. It's actually plenty; so make sure you are using them all well. If not, maybe it's time you started.
My last piece of advice is never retire. Keep working until you can't physically or intellectually work any more. If you work because you are trying to save for retirement or to put food on the table then keep doing what you must until you are financially comfortable (whatever that means for you), then switch to work you enjoy so it won't feel much like work.
Finally, always find a reason to get out of bed every day. It sure beats the alternative.

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