Thursday, September 16, 2004

The Accumulative Power of Time

The Accumulative Power of Time

We always hear financial experts (e.g. Rich Dad, Poor Dad) advising people to make money work for them and not the other way round. The same kind of wisdom can also be applied to the other valuable resource: time.

Most of us have a negative kind of relationship with time--because like money, we always think we don't have enough of it. Go to the gym? No time. Read a book? No time. Go for a holiday? No time.

Time always seem to slip from our grasp. We feel so helpless against its swift currents. It takes away our youth, our beauty and our dreams. To quote Lord Byron: "There's not a joy the world can give like that it takes away". The things we lose, appear even more precious after we have lost them. Time comes like a thief and steals our most precious possessions.

But is there a way to turn around this losing relationship with Time? If time is like the currents of a mighty river sweeping away everything on its path, then perhaps there's a way that we can harness its energy--like what hydroelectric dams do? How?

If we look around us, we notice how fast things can accumulate over time. Check your drawer or desktop--where do all those messy bits and pieces of paper, old receipts, coins, discarded envelopes and paper-clips come from? We don't remember collecting all these stuff deliberately--they just accumulated over time, quite effortlessly and unconsciously through our daily activities.

Check the closet of any young woman; I'm sure you'll find it stuffed with clothes that she doesn't wear anymore. There'll probably be many different pairs of shoes too--some she has even completely forgotten about. How did it happen? Did it take place overnight? No. Did she deliberately set out to clutter her closet with unused junk? No.

It's the accumulative power of time that is at work here. Do not underestimate its ability. Sedikit-sedikit, lama-lama menjadi bukit. Every schoolboy knows that. These are wise words indeed but somehow we always feel daunted by the massive challenge it poses to us. It doesn't tell us how to summon the energy to pursue the task head and how to nurture the patience to endure the long wait before success. It's really a mountain to conquer and it kind of scares us.

You see, the task becomes easier if we change the paradigm: make Time our ally. If things can accumulate so easily over time, why can't we start accumulating things that we desire? Like money, for instance. Like a more harmonious relationship with our family. A fitter and healthier body. More friends. Better business connections...the list is endless.

The main problem with us is that we do not make the effort to plant the seed. Like what I've mentioned in a previous blog entry, if we plant a seed everyday, time will nourish it and make it grow. We don't need to worry about it. We just need to make sure that we do the small and simple things correctly. Our job is simply to plant healthy seeds.

Most people always think of getting rich through one-off means--winning a lottery ticket, betting on a hot stock-market tip or discovering that ingenious business idea no one has thought of before. Those things could well happen and is probably worth pursuing, but a good financial planner always cover his bases first by putting in place a solid investment portfolio.

Start setting aside a small amount of your income for investment instead of spending it. The returns may not look much initially, but do not underestimate the power of compounding ("Compounding interest is the greatest mathematical discovery of all time"). The accumulative power of time will do the work for you.

Say a kind and encouraging word to a loved one everyday. It may seem like an insignificant act. But these things have their acummulative effect. How do relationships grow in first place? It is from these small little things, these tiny seeds of love. If we don't plant these daily seeds, there won't be any relationship to talk about. Or worst still, the negative accumulative effect of time takes over--leading to disintegration and decay.

Why do couples who start their marriage so blissfully end up getting a divorce and hating each other so bitterly? It's the negative accumulative power of time at work here--small dislikes accumulated over time until they reach a critical mass.

Why can't we learn to accumulate love, money and happiness just as easily? Time is neutral; Time can be our ally if we are smart enough to make use of it. Harness the energy from the currents of time. All we have to do is to start doing the small positive things and don't worry too much about the end results. Time will take over from there. And one day, it will surprise us pleasantly.

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