“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
“There are only two times in life. Now and too late.” – Terry Hawkins
“Slow and steady wins the race.”
“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right”. – Napoleon Hill
So which is it?
I have always seen value in planning, waiting, and waiting to plan. As a Myers-Briggs ‘J’ I make lists about lists that reference other lists. I have an electronic calendar and a moleskin. I hoard post-it notes like I’m preparing for a worldwide paper shortage.
My almost compulsive need for plans and structure, however, has been continually and thankfully challenged over the past few years, to the point where John Lennon’s keen observation that “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans” reads more like accepted fact rather than looming omen.
So what’s changed? I still have the same number of hours as everyone else, to plan for, structure, and fill as I see fit. I have the same, if not more, demands on my time that make prioritizing and planning an Olympic sport (task juggling in 2020? I’m thinking yes).
What’s changed is not time itself, but my relationship with it.
The quotes and adages I opened this post with imply that our relationship time is linear, finite and a one way street. Now while I can’t claim with any solid proof that time truly is a ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey … stuff (I’ve been watching a lot of Dr. Who recently), I can say that I’ve begun to shift what I do with time, how I use it and how I talk about it.
You may have heard the often quoted advice that it’s not our situation or circumstance that matters, but rather what we do about it and how we respond to it that counts. The same, I think, is true for time.
We measure our own time and how we’ve filled it by standards, tools and ideals created by someone else. The milestones we look for are larger than life and often in the seemingly distant future, creating the impossible challenge of trying to catch up to a marker of achievement that we ourselves keep pushing forward and away.
Beyond dividing our lives into hours, minutes, and seconds, we’ve segregated goals, plans, successes and even failures into defined, impermeable segments, to be finished and done with before moving onto the next. In this way, time marches steadily, and quickly forward, our paths obstructed by closed doors and locked windows of opportunity.
What if we gave ourselves permission to reach backwards for a minute? To stop, think, and reflect on what happened and not just what might, what is, and what will be? Instead of trying to climb the pedestal toward an undefined distant point of success, what if we created paths from past moments and present opportunities? How might we use our time then?
*As an aside, I’m starting to move away from saying I ‘spend’ time like currency or another commodity. No one is ‘time rich’ or ‘time poor’ these days – we all have the same number of hours to spend, it’s all in what we do with them. For a more eloquent and musical way of understanding this, start here.
These thoughts, just like me, are a work in progress. Leave a comment below or tweet me your thoughts. Let’s talk about this.