There’s so Little Time – a Hard Truth

This wasn’t the blog post I had planned to write today.  But even with all my planning, sometimes I’m just taken over to do something different.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last 10 months.  The hiatus I took in May give me even more time to think about time and what we are all doing with it.

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Why I’m thinking about Time

Many of you won’t be aware, but late last year a family member was diagnosed with terminal cancer – in the brain and in the lungs.  They were in their 60s.

As you can imagine, it had a great impact on the family and after overcoming the shock (as best we could), we prepared for the worst.

They were given just months left.  One thing people don’t always realise is if you are given a timeframe, the last few months are really bad.  It’s not like you get x number of months and then it happens.

By February they had deteriorated fast.  Eventually, they were moved out of the hospital and into a family member’s home.  One big enough for everyone to gather in.

The Marie Curie nurses were wonderful.  Friendly, gentle, understanding.  It is an incredible charity.

By the end, we were visiting every day, always making sure he had someone with him, even in the last two weeks when he was unresponsive.  It was important to us that he not be left alone.

This included family members taking shifts throughout the night on the days the Marie Curie nurses were not there.

They passed peacefully with family around them.  One can wish for no more than that in such times.

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The Biggest Regret

According to many palliative care nurses, one of the biggest regrets their patients have at the end of their life, is that they didn’t stay true to themselves.

That they let their dreams, ambitions, enjoyments go by the wayside while other things in life stole their time and energy.

When someone dies, it always makes you think.  It can’t not.  We are designed to consider our mortality when faced with such things.

Yet how many of us, when faced with this, think about what we really want to do, how we want to use our time while we still have it…and then make no changes to do so.

My hiatus was designed to help me think differently about my life and its direction and while it did, I still managed to fall back into (some) old patterns.

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Living Consciously

It’s easy to get swept away in life.  We carve out habits and routines and then move through them, wearing the path even deeper, making it harder to climb out and try a new path.

We allow procrastination and fear to dictate what we do, failing to focus on what we WANT to do.

If you truly sat down and thought about your life…

  • is it how you imagined it would be?
  • is it what you want?
  • is it leading you in the right direction?
  • in 10 years time, if you continue what you’re doing, will you look back fondly?

Living consciously is about being aware of what you’re doing all the time, of making conscious decisions about how you spend your time.

How often do you live consciously? 

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Looking Back

I am way closer to my 40s than I am happy to admit.  There’s a lot in my life I can look back on with pride and fond memories.

But there’s a lot I can look back on currently and think… I just WASTED so much time.

By the way, this isn’t about filling your time with just projects and ambitions, it’s about creating good memories, looking back with joy.

If that means spending time with your children, stopping the rollercoaster to get off and have more calm days reading, then that’s what you aim for.

It’s not about filling your time, being busy and overwhelming yourself on something you want to do (well, certainly not just that! lol). 

After all, you could hit 10 years time look back and think “damn, I wish I hadn’t locked myself away for 10 years just working on this project!”

When you look back over your life, what parts are you fond of?  What memories do you cherish?  What do you want more of?

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The 5 Goal Rule

I read somewhere that Warren Buffett once had a conversation with his pilot, Mike Flint who was discussing his career priorities.

Buffett asked Flint to write down his top 25 career goals.

Then to review that list and circle the top 5 goals.

Flint stated he would start working on his top 5 goals immediately but that the remaining 20 were also important so he’s still working on them intermittently.

Buffett’s reply

“No. You’ve got it wrong, Mike. Everything you didn’t circle just became your Avoid-At-All-Cost list. No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve succeeded with your top 5.”

You see, life can get filled up with tasks and ideas that just overwhelm you.  It’s why simplicity is so often sought out.

Though simplicity is not always as easy to come by as all these app makers will lead you to believe.

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Be Ruthless

One of the hardest things is to eliminate something we care about.  But in the end, you don’t have the time to work on everything.

Most people, myself included (seriously, a big weakness of mine), is to try and do lots of things in the time we have.

But all this does it leave us with lots of unfinished projects and goals and a sense of frustration and waning motivation.

If we truly cut away only the top 5 things and ignored the rest, accepted that maybe… we may never get back to them… imagine what we could actually achieve.

This is not easy.  This is not removing simple tasks from a to-do list that you don’t really care never get done.  This is picking your 25 most important goals and projects you want to do, are excited to do…and then casting most of them away.

They don’t have to be relegated to never… but you have to be willing to do that and not just panic and rush to work on them.

Instead, put them in a Someday/Maybe file and forget about them.

You could even give yourself 5 years.  Work on one project per year.  After all, how many projects do you have that had been dragged on for years?

People often baulk at the idea of just giving a year to one thing.  But it can be worth it.  It depends on how best you work, how best you focus.

Also, it might not even need a year, when you give something your undivided focus for long periods of time, you find you get way more done and can actually complete things sooner.

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Something to Consider

While the example above with Buffett and his pilot was career-goal specific, it doesn’t have to be.

The 5 goals can be anything – have you been wanting to travel to Europe?  What about learning the piano?  These take time, planning, focus too.

It’s about finding things you want to do in your lifetime and dedicating time and energy to it.

So when you pick your 25 goals, then whittle them down to 5, consider what you want to get out of doing those 5.  When you look back in 10 years, 20 years, will you feel happy that those were the ones you worked on?

~ ~ ~

We don’t have the time we think we do.  Anything can happen.  So make the most of your time, do what you love, work on those projects that mean the most, spend time with people you love and make sure to take time for yourself

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24 comments

  1. Blessings to you at this sad time.

    I will be 66 in four days – August 7th – and I live with two chronic diseases. Some months ago, I began a bucket list that kept growing. Almost nothing got ticked off – and my writing projects spawned more. I even have a ‘legacy file’ of projects that may well be unfinished when I pass; maybe, someone in the family will finish them. After reading this, I must not add to the list but focus on the project closest to my heart – and on visiting one key place at a time. Well, something like that.

    It’s so easy to get distracted – even in my sixties.

    1. Thanks for reading, Roland. Let me wish you happy (early) birthday now 🙂

      I know what you mean, my own bucket list is pretty long though I am trying not to go over 100 things and have several that are small, simple ones.

      My partner and I made a pact that each year we will try and tick of at least 3 things from our bucket lists – aiming for the ones we have together.

      What is the one bucket list item you’d love to tick off more than any other?

    1. Thank you kindly for your words. Loss is always so hard but I’d never dealt with a terminally ill person before. Past losses had always been sudden, mostly from old age. So this was very different.

      I am so sorry to hear about your sister, that must have been heart-breaking. *hugs*

  2. Balance is so important, and yet it’s something we all struggle with. I’m moved by the loss of your loved one, and I’m sorry for your heartache and grief.
    Your post covers a poignant topic, it’s something I find myself continuously juggling. I ask mysel, what is important. What do I want out of life? And how can I achieve those things?
    They all come back to family, friends, self care and following my dreams.

    1. Thanks so much Lorraine. I don’t often write “from the heart” posts as I never feel comfortable being that open with people but sometimes it just needs to be spoken of.

      Thank you for your kind words. I like how people replying to this post are mentioning self-care. It is so easy to forget and yet so important!

  3. Hi Ari, 😊
    “According to many palliative care nurses, one of the biggest regrets their patients have at the end of their life, is that they didn’t stay true to themselves.

    That they let their dreams, ambitions, enjoyments go by the wayside while other things in life stole their time and energy.”

    Yes, I’ve had nurses and caregivers tell me that they almost always hear people say they wished they had spent more time with family and friends and doing things they loved to do – but never heard anyone say they wished they’d given more of their life to their careers – unless their career was something they truly loved and enjoyed.

    At nearly 65 (in Sept.) so I’m thinking I’m the “senior” here. 😉😁
    I’ve rarely thought in terms of long term goals. As I’ve often said, I hardly like thinking in terms of goals at all. Part of that has always been because I know we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
    That said, I have made plans over the years. We have to do that at least or we’ll never do anything or go anywhere.

    I don’t have 25 things/goals I want to chase any longer. I think I’d have trouble coming up with 10 of them! 😆 So I think I’ll just look for a top 5.
    I also would do the 5 year look-ahead instead of a 10 year. Definitely not a 20 year! 😆I rather strongly take after my Dad’s side of the family, health-wise, and he, his sister and their mom all died in their mid-70s. 10 years is likely to be about what I have left.

    Like Yari, 1) I want to live more for Jesus than I have been. Also, 2) I want to be more loving, more trusting and less worried and anxious. Included with this I want to start being kinder to myself as well – accepting of myself for who I am, including the strengths and weaknesses I have. I’m really hard on myself and it’s not a beneficial way to live. 3) I want to do better with giving of my gifts and abilities to help and encourage others. 4) I want to love my family and friends more and spend more time with them. Especially my dear, sweet hubby! 🥰 And 5) I do have some projects I want to finish – some that were started . . . well . . . in my late 20s back in the late 1970’s, and into the 80’s and 90’s. Like I said, I’m old. 😁

    Writing again? It didn’t make the top 5 but I’m not ruling it out. I deeply want it to happen as I enjoyed it and I do write well, but I only want it if it is what the Lord wants for me and not just because I or my ego wants it for me. I strongly feel that unless the Lord is behind it I’ll only end up frustrated and way too stressed over it all again.

    Like Yari asked, Ari, will you be sharing yours?

    Hugs m’dear! ❤️

    1. Hi Pearl, I think those are wonderful goals. Especially being kinder to yourself. I think we all fail to do that more than we like to admit,

      It’s strange how we all seem to think that there’s loads of time and not enough time all at once. Not enough time for all the random things we fill our days with, and enough time not to think about spending it more wisely.

      I made the conscious effort to stop “working” at the weekends so I could actually do fun things with my partner. I don’t want to wait until we retire before we start enjoying time together.

      I will be sharing mine once I have them fleshed out. I find it hard to let things go, so while coming up with 25 *cough* 30 goals is easy… whittling it down to just 5 for immediate focus is hard but necessary.

      I’ll make a note to create a blog post to share them when I actually settle on my main 5. 🙂 xx

  4. Ari, with a mother declining in health suddenly and from the perspective I now have as a 57 year old, this is a VERY important and wonderfully insightful post. I was just browsing through Feedly, which I use to keep track of who I follow and it seems I was meant to find it. Such wise words. No explanation marks are necessary. Family relationships and personal goals can so easily conflict, but stepping back and seeing the bigger picture in order to have fewer regrets when our own time comes to die, is SO vital. Thank you for writing this post. And I’m sending you a big hug. XX

    1. Thanks so much for reading and for sharing your insights, Lynne. I am sorry to hear about your mother and I hope she is comfortable at least.

      These sad moments can lead us to re-evaluate and really think about what’s important.

      Thanks so much xx

  5. I enjoyed this post. I liked how much focus you put into thinking about these things, how much you decided to go for. It reminded me of a talk I went to a few weeks ago. In it, I learned that when one gets old, one tends to focus more on being than doing. When one is like 20-60, one focuses more on doing than being. After that, I decided to try “being” more often and stress less over goals. It was a good talk.

    1. Thanks for reading and sharing your insight. Yes, I think we can all get caught up with the “doing” and not enough “being.”

      It’s like we feel this ridiculous urge to fill every minute of our day with doing things and it never makes us feel fulfilled.

    1. Thanks so much for reading, and for your kind words. As painful as loss is, it does make you think and reminds you that this life is finite.

  6. To have a family and a home is not granted to all, but if you have that you have the best and don’t need to wish for any more. Of course for some their dreams are realised if they see the whole world and have nothing to tie them down! Make the most of what you have – but don’t miss the chance to do something different, like moving to the seaside in my case and becoming a writer.!

    1. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. How very true. “Make the most of what you have” tthose are the best words to live by! 🙂

  7. Hi Ari – I enjoyed this post.
    I had some goals this week that went to the wayside and I stomped on the regret.
    Posts like this remind me – remind us all – of what helps lead to wellness. We sometimes (in our culture) idolize success and ACHIEVEMENT – and wow and gawk at those who have all this output – when those folks are not always the content and happy folks. They’ve done a lot (sometimes fuled by the wrong reasons – like finding their fulfillment in output and letting status stuff trickle in – I felt this big time with an author I follow – have sensed it on and off but more recently her “angst” for fame was obvious – and I was just piecing it together and well – I sorta spoke up – but now I will part ways – because her energy is exhausting and she is defensive with feedback given – like I spoke up and then apologized for being rude – and she told me I was “too kind and conscious” – lol – and I shake my head because she is so darn bust self-promoting and working on her legacy -(which I get why she might be caught up in it) but she does not “hear” – cos she has that fog and confirmation bias filters – and so yes – I hope to always be “kind and conscious” when it comes to speaking up about a truth)
    __
    and I am glad you let your heart lead this post –
    because these are some of my favorite blog post types –
    the ones where people have been changed and then take the time to pour out their experience and then offer tips and advice from their current learning.
    mm – tasty good and so helpful (as we can all take away different things -d spending on what we are able to hear – and what we need at different times)

    __
    Lastly, This part was another section that spoke to me – because I also love to make every minute count:

    “Most people, myself included (seriously, a big weakness of mine), is to try and do lots of things in the time we have.”

    however, your following thought was not always the case –
    you wrote,
    “But all this does it leave us with lots of unfinished projects and goals and a sense of frustration and waning motivation.”
    that is only one part of it – and I get how that fit your theme about having too many goals and projects can lead to none getting done (hence the advice about the top five prioritizing)

    but some times – after we have done a lot of things with the time we have –
    we can then take a break and enjoy some of our successes.
    because it is not always
    “all this does it leave us with lots of unfinished projects”
    because sometimes we finish some (even many) and reap the fruits of “done”
    and maybe have a happy dance

    ya know ?

    and thanks again for sharing from your heart – your caring and humility is felt and appreciated

    1. Thanks for reading, I appreciate you taking the time to comment like you did.

      I don’t always feel comfortable letting my “heart lead” a blog post, but sometimes it must be done. I was pleasantly surprised by everyone’s response to this post and it makes it glad I wrote it.

      1. Yes – sometimes we “hold back” for good reasons – but other times we just lift the veil and let people in and who really know how it trickles and impacts people –
        and I appreciate the disclosing
        peace to you

  8. I’m very sorry to hear about your loss. I’m sending you lots of love and hugs. It sounds like it’s been a very introspective time for you, and I wish you the best on your goals, truly.

    I’m also close to 40 🙂 My top 5 priorities are 1. To live a life that honors Christ, 2. To get closer to my family and community, 3. To keep working on my writing goals, 4. To spend less time online and more time in real life, and 5… I think that’s it 🙂 Will you be sharing yours?

    1. Thanks so much Yari. I think it’s good having those moments of introspection and they do help.

      My goodness, you don’t even look in your 30s! What is your secret!?

      Thanks for sharing your top priorities, they sound like good ones to focus on.

      Yes, I will probably share mine – I’m still shuffling a few around. It’s hard knowing that some I have to just let go and maybe never go back to.

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