Why to reclaim your time is the path to a happier life?

Let me share with you my journey from trying to become more productive, more optimised and why it failed. And why now I believe the golden-goal of all is to learn to reclaim your time.

I am defining 3 levels in the quest to live a happier life:

  1. Put yourself before anything else. This means you will become selfish before being selfless. Spending time on yourself becomes more important than spending time on other’s problems. You can only really help others if you have helped yourself first. So at this level, it is about investing in yourself. It is about to cherish spending time for yourself.
  2. There is no “work life balance”. Work is your life. Choose a work that you are happy to spend time on. Ensure that these 8+ hours per days, if you have a full time job like me, are happily spent. Hint: how are you contributing and growing in your work-life is a good measure of your level of happiness at work.
  3. Full freedom on the decision without any condition. The real moment you feel the benefits of reclaiming your time is when you have full power of the decision of what you are going to do. No counterpart. How your life will unfold? What is your end goal in life? Truly make each decision yours to ensure you are always in control of your own time.

Productivity: this thing can kill you!

I started helping people to reclaim their time because I am realising that we have all been mislead about how to conduct our lives.

We tell our kids that “if you want success and happiness, you should work your ass off, but you should also listen to your teacher”.

We focus on general knowledge not on life experiences.

We don’t properly explain our kids how to deal with money, emotions or their own body (men or women)… which they will have to deal with their entire life.

Then, we tell them that there is no other way than to become more productive.

Meanwhile the ones who succeed in this world are the ones with an entrepreneur mindset. The ones who know themselves well and who are making decisions with intentions.

I believe this education system is broken (and I followed it). Good grades, Prestigious Business School, etc. And Even in the professional world, I tried and even I reached the top of my market as a business owner, with the best reputation.

But even with all that, I was still unhappy, feeling miserable and got burnt out.

Up until 2018: Empty inside but successful on paper.

At the moment I became “number one hostel in Saigon” (on the online ranking platforms), I felt like I’ve finished the game-of-life. The exact same feeling when you finish a video game. Same satisfaction..

And people around me were admirative.

But inside, I was empty.

I didn’t know what to do next.

This goal to “become number one” was empty.

I’ve spent 2 years working my ass off to reach that goal. I’ve set aside my relationship, my friends, my family. I was sacrificing my life for this. All I wanted was to become number one.

At this moment I became very worried for myself. It was almost sadness. I’ve sacrificed all this for so little.

I felt ashamed of myself for not investing my time in a better way: “What? a smart kid like me who has made so poor life choices?”

My goal was not a personal goal or a goal that truly stimulated me. It was more a goal that I set because I knew it would look good on paper. But it wasn’t feeding my soul.

So I went to search for something else…

2018-2020: Optimising everything. My new keyword!

After reflecting on myself after the disappointment of what it actually means to become number one…

I realised that I was working too much and I was completely overwhelmed.

My reasoning was that: it was normal that I’ve worked so hard, as an entrepreneur with your business starting only for the past 2 years, you have to be working hard to make it happen.

Cf. same story told to kids in their childhood.

Spoiler: I didn’t conclude directly that it would probably be best to simply slow down on caffeine, alcohol and my “work hard, play hard” lifestyle yet. Nah, I was still going at 200 km/h speed.

Instead, it became an obsession to “extract myself from my operations”.

I wanted to optimise everything in my business in order to not have to take part of the operations anymore.

I was spending on human resources, on management… a bit compulsively.

Anyway, I’ve learned a lot during this phase where I accepted to invest into tools and my team to work less and be a bit less overwhelmed.

I managed to extract myself from probably 95% of the actual operations, and I was still replacing staff going on holidays from time to time or organising some events.

But I still couldn’t really enjoy my free time properly. Something was missing. And not surprisingly, all the side projects I was starting all failed:

  • I tried to open a new house, renting 6 private rooms but I never managed to host any tenant.
  • I tried to build a Shopify website to dropship handcrafted products made in Vietnam to sell them in France. The only client was my father who bought one wallet (that he still uses now).
  • I started to build my own authentic tours in Vietnam but with Covid we never got to launch properly.
  • etc.

And the rest of the free time? Partying.

Key Takeaways of this article

  1. Reclaim your time by putting yourself before anything else including work, family or life’s problems. With the time spent on yourself, you learn, you relax, you grow.Personal lesson from this article: Working your ass off will fill up your days with work. You can die if you work too much.
  2. Reclaim your time by ensuring that you are contributing and growing at work; not only making money.Personal lesson from this article: Productivity is a powerful tool and can help you work more efficiently. But being efficient doesn’t mean you’re working on the right goal for you. What is your end-goal in life?
  3. Reclaim your time by truly make each decision yours to ensure you are always in control of your own time.Personal lesson from this article: Extracting yourself from your operations will give you free time. But you might use your free time poorly if you don’t learn to invest in yourself.

At the end, we all want to be happier in life… I believe that reclaiming your time is contributing to this goal.

What is your takeaway of this article?

What is makes you truly happy in life?

How do you like to spend your free time?