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.
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.
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.
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 sat down and truly 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?
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?
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.
“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.
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 everything and leave only the top 5 things, ignoring 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 dragging on for years?
People often baulk at the idea of just giving a year to one thing. But it can be worth it. Just 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.
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 and focus too.
It’s about finding things you want to do in your lifetime and dedicating time and energy to them.
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…
What are your 5 Top Priorities?