When I was starting out as a family man, in my mid-20s, I naturally thought of financial security. I thought of retirement and savings and all the things responsible married people do. I even opened up a spreadsheet and ran some numbers! I found that if I were to maximize my IRA contributions every year and invest in low-risk dividend-bearing stocks, I would retire a millionaire. Virtually Guaranteed.
That’s all thanks to the power of compounding. Money, however, is one of the least valuable things to compound. Skills are vastly more important. Money can save you time, but skills can create time.
I built an entire application in 3 days over a holiday weekend. 5 years ago it would have taken me 3 weeks. 10 years ago it would have been 3 months. This isn’t due to just practice, it is due to learning and investing time in expanding my knowledge.
Skill development is a time factory.
Every skill I have practiced and studied to do better has resulted in not only a better job done, but also done in less time. Every minute of practice will get paid back in full, with interest. That interest compounds each time I perform that task.
I obviously can’t master everything I do. I won’t master replacing cracked irrigation hoses, that only happens once a year. I don’t need to master that skill. I will master repeatable or similar tasks.
It’s important to not just look at direct benefits, such as more efficient driving. Related but potentially hidden benefits exist. If I practice driving in a way to increase fuel economy while also decreasing wear and tear, I save time between refueling and save time and money in service fees.
It bears repeating: Every task I do that is repeatable can be studied. Any improvement will be paid back. The initial, up-front work may be more than necessary but it means I can be lazy in the future. I’ll take that trade-off.