Time to Lose
Welcome to the Monday Mindwash. We’re here to give our minds a little scrub, get some of the dirt out. This weekly blog will challenge your mind, body, and especially those beliefs you store within. Well, you don’t actually think they’re your beliefs, do you?
This week I posed the question: Why are we so busy? How is it that nobody has time to do anything, yet our results are commensurate with a level of laziness not seen since DaVinci took 15 years to paint a 21” x 30” piece of art called the Mona Lisa (to be fair, his laziness was self-admitted)? What if our concept of time was so screwed up that most of us are just sitting around waiting to die?
The Dirt: You don’t have time.
Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. This popular WWII phrase meant you were on break. Got ‘em we do, but instead of cigarettes, we have our 24 hours each and every day. That’s right, even when we mess up today’s hours, nature innocently blesses us with a fresh set as sure as we drag ourselves out of bed to hopefully endure another round.
Here’s the question.
How is that we all have the same 24 hours in our day, yet we can have such wildly different results?
How can Oprah be born into poverty to become one of the wealthiest people in the world with only 24 hours per day? Bill Gates earns about $33.3M in his day while most of us won’t earn that in 15 lifetimes. All judgement aside, isn’t it a bit curious how that could be? What do they know that we don’t?
For one, they know the value of an hour. It can build an empire or destroy a village. The only question is whether we are spending time on things that serve us or don’t serve us. From our discussion the past two weeks, if we know where we are going and that we must work hard to get there, then time is our greatest ally. It’s the “liquid Schwartz” in our gas tank. It’s value is immeasurable when we invest it on those things that improve our lives, move us closer to our goals, and heighten the well-being of our family and those around us.
Should we ignore this valuation, we end up spending time on anything else, most of which does not serve our purpose in life. This could be TV, social media, drama, employment, anger, worry, or fear – this list NOT exhaustive, though potentially exhausting. On average, people spend 3 hours per day watching TV and 2 hours per day on social media. That’s 13 years of over an average person’s lifetime. If you were just a little bit less lazy than Da Vinci, you could have painted the Mona Lisa.
While the question has no meaning in the comfort of your favorite reading chair, imagine if I were to ask you one second before a fatal car crash, “What would you do if you were granted an extra 13 years of life?”
Something tells me it wouldn’t be “Watch more TV.” You see, it’s not that we don’t have time, it’s that we don’t understand the importance of the time we have. We always have time for what’s important.
If your kids were in a burning room and you were late for work, what would be on your mind? Your boss’ stern lecture about being late? The prime-time TV lineup tonight? How many “likes” you got on your post about your cat? Of course not. Without a clear destination and clear direction on how to get there, there’s nothing left to do but to drift, waiting for each hour to pass, hoping that the next won’t be too painful, until we die.
To those who are indeed clear in those areas, then we shall look deeper into how we control our wondrous resource of time. In fact, what if we did guard each hour, each day, like it was truly valuable.
After all, is it not the one thing we can never buy more of, no matter how rich and successful we may become? It’s the most precious resource on the planet. Imagine treating it as such and maximizing it, scheduling it, tracking it, and not wasting a single drop. We either consume it judiciously or we allow it to evaporate into thin air.
While time is sacred, it’s not a scarce as you may think. Let’s look at a typical week.
Sleeping: 56 hours (8/night)
Eating – 11 hours (1.5/day)
Family time: 14 hours (2/day – real or fake)
Work – 63 hours (9/day including traffic)
Shopping and errands – 14 hours (2/day – again, generous)
Total: 158 hours
With 168 in a week, that leaves us 10 hours per week unaccounted or 5 years over our lifetime. Sleep one less hour per day, and that rings up another 3 years.
What could you accomplish, even with the thankless job, endless traffic, darn kids screaming, Facebook/TV-absorbing lifestyle, if you had 8 years to do it?
Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel in four years. It was three years before the Transamerica building was completed in San Francisco. It took a little over 2 years to build the Titanic. George Orwell wrote 1984 in just a year.
The first key is to develop an ounce of self-discipline. Self-discipline is doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, whether or not you feel like it. In my bodybuilding days, I would never miss a workout no matter what. Did I particular enjoy lifting heavy things and putting them down? Heck no, but I did it because I liked the results. I enjoyed getting closer to my goal of competing in the sport.
What if everything you want in life were on the other side of “I don’t feel like it”?
Then we have to schedule it. Nothing happens by pure chance and you won’t invest time by accident. What if you committed to a set number of hours per week towards achieving something great, something you’d be proud to share? Maybe art, maybe winning a race, or perhaps a side business that can free you from employment, blessing you with more hours to do all that you wish. How would that feel? What would you leave to the world as your legacy?
Once scheduled, then we track it. How do you know if you’re doing the right activities during your dedicated time? Simple. Are you getting closer to achieving your goal? Forgive me for the simplicity, I left my differential equations back in college. If you are, great, keep going. If not, figure out why immediately and make corrections. Don’t wait until next week, next month, or next year. Remember that stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
If you’ve made it this far but still desire more, the next progression is the concept of leverage. If one seed produced one apple, it wouldn’t be worth the effort. We must receive more in return than what we put in. Like how the transmission in our car helps us move faster, wouldn’t it be great to get into a higher gear? Every time we open a can of beans, shovel snow off our driveway, or earn 5 cents interest in our bank account, we are leveraging. yet so few of us apply this concept to our career and life plans.
With respect to time, what if instead of 24 hours in your day, you had 24,000 hours? You see, Bill Gates isn’t worth 1000 times more than we are. He really is human. Instead he has the efforts of hundreds of thousands of people that work for his wealth. His personal day might be 24 hours, but his business day, or “income” day – that day which determines is lifestyle – is much greater than ours. He understands leverage.
If you’re trading time for money, you are not leveraging. You are driving a car with a 1:1 transmission and wondering why you’re maxing out at 23 MPH. It’s okay to start there, and most of us have been there, but at some point, it’s time to shift gears, realizing your potential, your worth, and leverage all that you can.
If Freedom = time x money (I’ll save the proof for another time), then we must leverage either time or money. When you do both, the constriction of not-having-time becomes the hug of true freedom.
One last point to drive it home. What if time were actually life? That wasting time were literally wasting your life. Is that really something with which you’re okay? Has it been that bad, is it so terrible, or are you dreading the future that much to give away the one experience-of-a-lifetime the universe has given you? Before you toss in the towel though, please go talk to someone on their deathbed and ask them the one thing they regret the most. Something tells me you already know the answer.
I dare you to share this article with one other person in your life. We may not change the world on our own, but together, we can’t lose. Love you guys, have an amazing week. Now’s the time and you’re the person.
“If you want to know the value of one year, just ask a student who failed a course.
If you want to know the value of one month, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.
If you want to know the value of one hour, ask the lovers waiting to meet.
If you want to know the value of one minute, ask the person who just missed the bus.
If you want to know the value of one second, ask the person who just escaped death in a car accident.
And if you want to know the value of one-hundredth of a second, ask the athlete who won a silver medal in the Olympics.”
— Marc Levy
Meet you at the top (because the bottom’s way too crowded)