I’m a little groggy as I write this article. Last night before I went to sleep, I set my clock ahead by an hour. As usual, the springtime transition has been somewhat rough.
From a biorhythm point of view, I don’t find that Daylight Saving Time makes sense. Maybe it’s because I’m not a morning person. But, after December 21, I love seeing the days grow longer; it becomes easier and easier to get up. Then—boom!—Daylight Saving Time comes along, I wake up, and it’s dark and hard to get out of bed. This makes for a slow start on the day and doesn’t increase my productivity, as many proponents of Daylight Saving Time would suggest.
Every year, the media publish tips—go to bed early, stay away from screens, etc.—for making the transition easier, and I try to follow these. They help a little, but I have often found myself wondering about the purpose of changing clocks. Who came up with this idea anyway? Who thought this was a good idea, and why? I was curious and sought answers.
Daylight Saving Time was first implemented in Germany during World War I; the aim of the initiative was energy conservation in connection with coal shortages and air raid blackouts. Today, many countries use Daylight Saving Time. In the United States, the practice was adopted to a large degree during the energy crisis of the 1970s. The goal was to reduce the use of residential lighting in the evening hours. As residential lighting accounts for only a tiny portion of electricity usage in the United States, the impact of the savings is likely marginal.
Some perhaps unintended consequences of “springing forward” each year are the well-documented health risks associated with the practice. In the days following the time change, there are noticeable spikes in the number of heart attacks and suicides. In addition, people are more likely to be involved workplace accidents and injuries in the days immediately following the change. Evidence suggests that it even causes a documented rise in traffic accidents. Maybe some folks are resetting the clocks in their cars while they’re driving—or perhaps they’re just tired.
Some argue that the health impact is minimal because many of us are already terribly sleep-deprived and have poor sleep habits. In the face of these issues, changing clocks by an hour may not be terribly significant. It’s important to note, however, that these poor sleep habits are likely a consequence of a paycheckaholic lifestyle. In order to work at and keep our paycheckaholic jobs, we cram as much as possible into our evenings and weekends and try to survive on fewer hours’ sleep than we really need. To stay in touch with the office and respond to customer requests, many employees feel pressure to log onto their devices late at night. In our always-on society, employers increasingly seem to expect employees to be available at any point around the clock.
Granted, losing an hour of sleep probably isn’t that big of a deal for you. You might even be responsible enough to plan ahead and go to bed an hour earlier to compensate for it. You might be a little groggy for a day or two, but it’s no worse than minor jet lag for a trip. So why write an entire article on the subject?
Think about Daylight Saving Time in this light: if your time were not a part of your income strategy—your money-making equation—then you would control your schedule. You would choose when to wake up; you wouldn’t be limited by some silly decision made by bureaucrats years ago to set clocks forward and back or an employer demanding your presence at a specific time.
Trading time for money is a mindset to which paycheckaholic employees subscribe—their time traded for their employers’ money. Time for money.
Taking the idea further, in trading your time, you’re actually trading your life. If you’re not in control of your time, you’re not in control of your life. Time equals life. The expression “your time is up” is synonymous with the end of your life. As a human being limited by the half-dimension of time, you need to remember that time—not your house or cars, not your 401(k), and certainly not your paycheck—is your most valuable asset. As a paycheckaholic, you are putting your health—indeed, your very life—in someone else’s control. That isn’t freedom; it’s indentured servitude.
So many people are chasing the dream of “wealth in a wheelchair,” which MJ DeMarco describes in his book “The Millionaire Fastlane.” For decades, people work at a paycheckaholic job and save diligently so that they’ll be able to retire in mediocre comfort. In the meantime, they’re frittering away their years of peak energy–and health–by working at an unfulfilling job where someone else is limiting their freedom.
In what DeMarco calls the Fastlane, you’re not tied to anyone else’s schedule. Your time is decoupled from your income. And you can then simply ignore the Daylight Saving Time change. How would that change your life?
There are many reasons why you might wish to break your addiction to a paycheck, but chief among them is freedom, and true freedom means taking control of your time. As you change each of your clocks to reflect the time change, ask yourself if you’re really making progress. Are you moving toward your goals of greater financial resilience and greater freedom with your time?
As you “spring forward,” take a step back and invest the time—your time—to perform a critical evaluation of where you are and where you’re heading. Make it your resolution that the next time you set your clocks ahead to spring forward, you’ll do so with a greater degree of freedom and control over your time.