Author John Assaraf once said, "If you don't value your time, nobody else will."
I don't know about you, but the older I get, the more intensely I value my time. To the extent possible, I choose to do things I deem fulfilling, productive, useful, or enjoyable. I'm not afraid to say "no thank you". I think twice about the movies I watch and articles I read, I think more than twice about the events I attend and prospective clients I meet, and I place spending time with my family & friends, travel, and writing at the very top of the list.
Is it age? Does growing older make you somehow more acutely aware of just how much time you don't have anymore? Or is it having children, more "adult" responsibilities, or the pressures of a demanding professional life?
Is it technology? Do modern conveniences like washing machines, cars, toasters, smartphones, and airport security clearance cards give us more time to value—or simply to get more done?
Is it health? Does living longer make us appreciate the time we have on this planet more?
Sure, all of this factors in, but that's not the core reason. The real driver of how much you value your time is self-respect and, by extension, self-love.
The less you respect yourself, the less value you place on your time. The less you love yourself, the less you esteem your time.
Perhaps this is why we learn to appreciate time as we move through life—not because of age, health, or technology, but because we have had enough of it, we have experienced and lived through enough of it, and spent enough of it, to appreciate how inestimable it really is.
Time is the greatest personal commodity that is universally and automatically granted to every single person on the planet, regardless of race, gender, wealth, religion, political affiliation... and yes, even regardless of age. Time is a sacred and inalienable right, not a privilege. It is also the one aspect of our lives—aside from taxes and death—that we cannot in any way, shape, or form, control. Once it's gone, it's gone forever.
You cannot make more of it the way you can make more money regardless how much you lose (or spend). You can't go back in time and change things the way you can rewrite books, reshoot movies, or remake that cake you burned in the oven. You can't package it up and send gift baskets of it to your stressed-out kids in college.
You get ONE chance and one chance only with each minute, hour, day, month, year of time that you live and experience. That's a pretty sobering realization, considering how much of our lives we spend performing nearly automatic tasks like taking a shower, eating, doing our laundry, commuting to work, shopping for groceries... but it's also extremely empowering.
All those daily gotta-do-it routines, we might as well enjoy, because it's time we need to spend, unless we can afford to in-source it, like housekeeping and that sort of thing. But no one is going to eat for us... so why not treat your body like the temple it really is and turn that time of day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) into little sacred spaces that you can enjoy instead of rush through, whether you have lunch by yourself or dinner with your family?
As for all of the "other time" in your day, the time that you get to define, structure, and shape, do it without guilt or fear, but with love and respect. You'll see just how much more fulfilled you'll become.