As summer fades and children return to school, the brisk air of fall is upon us. It’s a familiar cycle that repeats itself year after year. But…am I the only one who feels like time is speeding up with every passing birthday??
I discovered some interesting research behind this phenomenon in an article by Jillian Wilson titled, “Time Flies by Faster as We Get Older. Here’s Why.” (HuffPost 12/2022)
Professor Cindy Lustig at the University of Michigan described how our perception of time transforms as we grow older. It hinges on perspective—living in the present or reflecting on the past. Think about a typical day for an 80-year-old compared to an 8-year-old child caught up in school and activities. Even though the older person's day might seem to go by slowly, when they remember a whole month or year, they feel like time is moving quickly.
Lustig explained that this happens because of how our memory works. Our brains tend to bunch together days that are alike, making them seem similar when we remember them. This makes it feel like time is passing quickly. But when we have new and exciting experiences, they stand out and make our memories more vivid.
Professor Adrian Bejan at Duke explained how our brains focus on change. Kids' diverse daily experiences extend time. Adults also benefit, especially during adventures, forming rich memories that stretch time. Additionally, our bodies play a role. As infants, our brains absorb many images, making time feel longer. With age, image intake decreases, speeding up time. In essence, our perception of time depends on both our thoughts and bodies. As we age, time seems faster. To counteract, embrace new experiences, savor each moment, and slow time's pace in your mind.
How does this relate to business owners? This accelerated perception of time can have profound implications, particularly when it comes to decisions about exiting or retiring from their businesses.
Sense of Urgency
The understanding that time is passing faster can create a sense of urgency among business owners. They may come to realize that the dream of retirement or passing on their business to the next generation is approaching rapidly. This realization can serve as a powerful motivator to start planning and executing an exit strategy sooner rather than later.
For many business owners, their enterprise is not just a source of income but a part of their identity and legacy. As they age, they may become increasingly concerned about what will happen to their business when they retire or pass away. This concern can lead to a more thoughtful approach to succession planning and legacy building.
Health and Energy
Aging also brings physical and mental changes. Business owners may find that their energy levels and ability to handle the demands of running a company are not what they used to be. This realization can prompt them to contemplate a transition while they still have the vitality to actively participate in the process.
As people age, their priorities often shift. They may start valuing their time with family and friends more than the daily grind of business ownership. This shift in priorities can make the idea of exiting or retiring more appealing, as it allows them to redirect their focus and resources toward personal and leisure pursuits.
Planning for Financial Security
The financial aspect of retirement becomes increasingly important as business owners age. They must ensure that they have a secure financial plan in place to support their post-retirement lifestyle. The perception that time is moving quickly can prompt them to take a closer look at their financial preparedness for retirement.
The emotional aspect of exiting a business is significant. As business owners age, they may become more emotionally prepared to let go and entrust their business to someone else. They may also want to spend their golden years enjoying life rather than constantly worrying about the demands of their company.
Incorporating these considerations into their decision-making process can help business owners navigate the complexities of exiting or retiring from their businesses with greater confidence and peace of mind. It underscores the importance of proactive planning and recognizing that time, as it accelerates with age, should be cherished and used wisely.
Ultimately, embracing the changing perception of time can lead to a more fulfilling and rewarding transition into the next phase of life beyond business ownership.
Jayne McQuillan, CPA, MBA, Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) is the owner of Journey Consulting, LLC and author of the bestseller, "The Value Journey: How to Drive Profits, Build Wealth, and Exit Your Business on Your Own Terms."
Our firm is focused on providing business owners and their businesses with strategic planning, exit planning, financial expertise, and organizational improvement. We use a holistic approach within all of our services by aligning leadership with business strategy and outcomes.
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