I remember listening to a Tim Ferriss podcast awhile ago when his guest talked about the difference between a millionaire and a billionaire. The guest framed it not in money but in time—as a million seconds is equal to 11 days while a billion seconds is just over 31 years. I thought it was a cool way to frame money and time, but didn’t do anything with the concept.
Recently, I opened The Pomp Letter, written by Anthony Pompliano, and bang, bang, it’s his centerpiece article. I want to share the gist of the idea as I think it’s an important one.
Some (many?) of us want to be billionaires in terms of money or assets under management. But what’s more important: having a billion dollars with little time left or having a million dollars with 31 years left?
Another way to frame this is, “When young, we spend so much of our time trying to make money; when old, we spend so much of our money trying to turn back time.”
Take a look at the image below. Where would you move the hash mark? If you move it left of center, then having more time is what animates you. If you move it right of center, then you’d rather have more money even if it meant less time to enjoy it.
Of course, none of us are guaranteed one billion seconds or even 1 million seconds, let alone one billion or one million dollars. And some of us might say these two choices are not mutually exclusive—we can have both.
Looking at the life table for my current age, I, actuarially, have less than one billion seconds left to live. I also have less than a billion dollars! But what I do have is a deep appreciation for time, for this moment, and a desire to live each day such that if today is my last, I could die happy.
How about you?