All we are doing is investment. Taking the bus to meet a friend? That’s an investment. Quitting your job to work at another company? That’s investing. Skipping the gym? Bad investment, but still one. Going to bed early? Probably a good investment. So let me give you my best investment advice: spend your time wisely. Imagine you are a millionaire and you are placing your entire fortune into 24 chunks of money every day.

From the online Cambridge dictionary, we get the following definition: “Invest, verb. To put money, effort, time, etc. into something to make a profit or get an advantage.”

Thinking about this, I mostly consider three investment currencies: Time, Money, and Influence. There surely is more that you can invest into something, but simplistically my opinion is there should be a way to express it as a function of Time, Money, and Influence.

You may be thinking this is all wrong, that not everything you do is motivated by “making a profit or getting an advantage.” And I want to argue you’re looking at this the wrong way. Profit is not a bad thing, and doesn’t have to be money nor an immediate advantage. In fact, I don’t think I’m writing anything controversial here: your future is influenced by your many decisions. If you expand the perspectives of what is it that you consider an “investment” and what is it that you consider a “profit”, investment goes way beyond money and finance schemes.

That’s my point. Let me entertain.

Limiting our view of what investment is to the joys of finance, or at least not seeing our time and influence as equal investment modes, we restrict our ability to have an impact. We are made to believe we need to work in order to get money in order to — if we have some left — invest some. More than a belief, this is indeed what “pays the bill”. But what if instead of receiving money as a salary you got paid in stocks? That’s what some companies do as “an incentive”. But shouldn’t it be the norm? And what if instead of buying your groceries in dollar bills you were trading stocks?

Money is convenient. But money is just a transactable token. Without momentum, inert money is worth nothing. Money should always be a mean, never an end.

Time is a particularly interesting one. Environmental factors aside, Time is the ultimate non-renewable investment resource. Once spent, it’s gone forever. And if Money and Influence can buy and leverage Time, they can’t create it. It’s also a rather fair resource, in that each of us get more or less the same amount to spend (not exactly but it doesn’t compare — yet — with the discrepancies in Money or Influence distribution.)

Modern, industrialised societies managed to steal us the freedom of investing our time. If you fit the mold, how much time is left for you at the end of the day to invest in things you truly want? There are ways to adopt a minimalist lifestyle, care less about materialism and money, become as independent as possible from industrialised supply chains… but this is still quite marginal.

True accomplishment is the freedom to choose where to invest your time.

(This post is part of the “Open Market” series)