An interesting study comparing time and money shows that the two are not, in fact, equal.

Indeed, when it comes to the human mind, it appears that thinking about time has a markedly different effect on people than thinking about money.

A new study published in Psychological Science finds that people who are primed to think about time spend more time socializing, while people who are primed to think about money spend more time working. Who’s happier? Those who socialize, according to Cassie Mogilner, an assistant professor at the Wharton School, who designed an experiment.

She did this by giving two groups scrambled sentences that suggested either time or money. One group was asked to unscramble sentences that contained time-related words, such as “hour” or “clock,” while the other unscrambled sentences containing words associated with money (“wealth,” “dollar”). Then all volunteers were asked how they planned to spend the next 24 hours. Those made to think about time, planned to spend more time socializing, while those prompted to think about money planned to spend the time working.

Moligner decided to go further by doing the research live, instead of online, and found the same result. She approached people entering a café on campus and presented them with either the scrambled sentences on money or on time. Those that got the time sentences spent more time in the café talking to others either on the phone or in person, while those who got the money words spent more time working. As they left the café her team asked them how they felt and found that those who socialized felt happier. Her conclusion: “There is so much discussion and focus on money, optimal ways to spend and save it, and the relationship between money and happiness. We’re often ignoring the ultimately more important resource, which is time.”

An interesting insight into what all that focus on money may be doing to you and your clients. The lesson is to keep returning to the ultimate goal, which is almost never financial. You and your clients want to make more money, sure, everyone does, but that in won’t make anyone happy. If you can connect the dots between their financial goals and the ultimate personal joy it that it is meant to give them in realizing their dreams whether that’s spending time with family, traveling, building a dream house, whatever the real-life application is, you will be driving home a very clear value proposition with every single client.

Oh and don’t forget to spend more time with your loved ones while you can!


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