Why You Need to Take a Sabbatical - Part 2 - The Compounding Value of Your Time with Loved Ones

Much of the focus of this blog is on increasing the value of your time by knowing your true hourly wage (see this post for more details). While this, in my opinion, is the most important metric in evaluating your true financial growth, there are other ways to increase the value of your time that aren’t monetary.

My family and I are currently well into week one of our mini sabbatical. My wife, my two-year-old son, and I are spending the month in Central Oregon in the wonderful little town of Sunriver, just south of Bend, OR.

You can’t catch up on family time later. You can’t catch up any time for that matter.

I’ve heard it said time and time again by colleagues that they are “putting in their time” to become financially stable or independent and that they will “catch up” on family time when things slow down. Well, it really doesn’t work that way. The time we spend now is spent and done, we can’t “catch up on it later.”

In my own case, my son is two. The “why?” questions are flying at us as faster than we can think and it seems like he grows a quarter inch each day. I have become much more aware of the speed of time since we had our son. As they saying goes, “sometimes the days are long, but the years are fast.” I know these are precious years, everyone tells us so, and I want to make the most of them. If I don’t spend them well I don’t get a re-do. Twenty years from now when my son is out of the house (hopefully) I know I will not look back at this time and say, “man, I wish I would have worked during that September instead of riding bikes, hiking, and spotting deer with my wife and son.” No way.

Now, I am all for seasons of deliberate and focused work. This is one of the ways we pull tremendous value out of our work time and serve others well. However, these periods of focused work time, whether they be days, weeks, or months need to be strictly defined with beginning and end dates so as to not let time get away from us. Notice also that I did not include “years” as a focused period of work. Are you really all that focused if it is year after year, without significant breaks?

The compounding effect of time with loved ones.

I’m a finance guy. The simple and powerful effect of compounding is one of the filters by which I evaluate the things I choose to spend my time on. The benefits of compounding can be easily calculated when it comes to monetary things by using a simple rate of expected return and a given time period.

However, compounding is equally powerful in other areas of your life, especially in the amount of time spent with loved ones. The health of your relationships with loved ones is affected substantially by the amount of time you pour into them.

For example, if you choose to spend just an hour more per week talking with your spouse or playing with your child, rather than doing a trivial task at work or around the house, the benefits are exponential. Not only is that specific hour beneficial for the relationship, but it will lead to the deepening of the relationship in future hours spent with these loved ones, and you’ll likely get the same amount of work done in less time (more details in this post). The time, conversations, and experiences build and compound upon themselves to bring the relationships to deeper and deeper levels over time. Thirty years from now, are you going to wish you would have spent that hour each week surfing the internet?

Now, imagine stringing these hours together in regular sabbaticals over the years with your loved ones, creating extended periods of time where you live life together closely, and intensify this deepening of relationship.

Relationships are work too.

I know this is obvious, but it needs to be said. Spending extended time with loved ones without the distraction of “work” requires work in itself. My wife and I will inevitably find ways to frustrate each other and my son’s continuous “why” questions will exhaust me and make me realize how much I really don’t know about the world we live in.

However, this is how we grow. Relationships are work, just like work is work. To grow ourselves and to help others to grow we need to spend our time wisely and intentionally.

I wish you all the best as you strive to provide greater value with your limited time.

Kyle Mast, CFP®

Kyle Mast, CFP®Comment