“Mom, you are starving me.. for time”
- Written by
- Category: Mentoring
- Published on 06 Mar 2019
Sometimes we are willing to compromise on our time for the sake of money. Taking a hard assignment, putting in long hours, sacrificing time with the family or friends all in the hope of a good reward at the end of the effort. What if the reward at the end is not “good enough”? As per Ashley Whillans, an Assistant Professor at Harvard Business School, the research shows that irrespective of the reward, research shows that it is never good enough compensation for the lost time. Her research shows that time poverty is the cause of lower levels of happiness and higher levels of anxiety, depression and stress. Time-starved people exercise less and are less healthy. Their productivity is also diminished.
Sounds familiar? If you are like most parents with about 20 years of work experience and a few less years of raising kids, you have gone through these periods and compromises. You intrinsically know this and abhor it, having promised yourself to not do it again. Yet, come Board exams or any other exams, we slip back into the same routine. We become perpetrators this time, extracting “time for the sake of marks” from our kids. And the justification is the same – for a secure future. In fact, in resource constrained environments, this compromise begins at the kindergarten level itself. Kids are sent to classes, tuitions, remedial classes, hobby classes while not leaving any time for free play.
The problem stems from the fact that kids become used to being time-starved. The research has shown that it is because of increased wealth and financial insecurity that the parents suffer from, and project it on to the kids. It makes a lot of sense when seen through the lens of the commodity theory – when a resource is perceived as valuable, it is also perceived as scarce. The parents have earned success through information arbitrage secured through hard work (good grades led to admission into great universities and the alumni networks there allowed for professional growth) and so success becomes valuable and therefore scarce. And therefore, the loss of success is felt even more painfully and taken personally.
In our work with young adults, we are often faced with the task to instill the confidence that being time-starved is not the default option. We also have to engage with the parents to explain to them that in the digitally-connected world, information has become a commodity and it is assimilation arbitrage that works, and so the old measures of success need to be abandoned. Therefore, the first step is to reassess the way they define success and then having the conversation with their kids.
The other thing that helps in the conversation is the knowledge that an increasing number of Universities are moving to a more holistic approach to admissions. While grades and standardized test scores remain important, it is the whole narrative of the individual’s experiences, desires and expectations that determines whether they get a place in their preferred programs.
The outcome of these conversations has been usually very constructive. We have seen the young adults take more responsibility as they have greater control over their time, save money by taking lesser classes, increase depth and proficiency in select domains and overall become happier and therefore more productive. And yes, they manage to get admissions in better Universities as their profiles become better.
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