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Time: Do You Spend It Or Invest It?
By Paula Gregorowicz
Time is our greatest and most precious asset. Time is the great equalizer of all us human beings. Why then do we not recognize and treat it with the respect it deserves?
Whether you are rich, poor, healthy, ill, or just humming along in your life somewhere in between, we all have only 24 hours in each and every day to invest wisely. We often spend a great deal of time and energy thinking and worrying about, or working to earn and pursuing more money. However, while we are doing that, sometimes we are missing the greatest gift of all - our time to experience our lives. A wise teacher once said to me, "You can always get more money but you can never buy more time." Good point!
How often do we consciously think about how we invest our time? I consciously use the word invest because the way we choose to spend out time is truly an investment in ourselves and our lives.
Based on my observations over the last several decades on this planet, however, you would never guess the true value of this time commodity by the way people act and speak.
First, let's look at the common ways people dishonor time with their actions. Do any of these choices look familiar?
- Spending hours in front of the TV.
- Sacrificing a healthy amount of regular sleep in an attempt to steal more time. (You may be awake for more hours, however being in a fog and loaded up on caffeine does not translate into quality or "more time".)
- Working ineffectively and/or spending so much time at a job that you have in effect handed over your life to someone else.
- Existing in a state of stressed out or burned out.
- Spending hours aimlessly surfing the internet.
- Participating in gossip or the rumor mill.
Now, let's take a look at the language we use when we discuss our precious friend, time. Do any of these comments look familiar?
- I wish it were Friday already! (usually spoken from a Monday through Thursday point of view)
- I'm just wasting time; or, this is a waste of time.
- I have some time to kill
- I'll get to enjoy my time when I retire.
- I'm just counting the hours until the end of the day, or the days until the weekend, retirement, etc.
So, how often do you wish away your life? How often do you let time simply pass you buy?
While it may sound clich", the phrase Carpe Diem has a great deal of merit. It means, seize the day. I can still remember my first real experience with this term when Robin Williams challenged his young students in the movie Dead Poet's Society to do just that - seize the day. He used it as a call to arms where every student in his class should make each day a day that was truly explored and lived fully.
WHERE DOES MY TIME GO?
A Challenge for You
Do you know where all your time goes each day? What parts of your life are most important to you? Are those the parts of your life that receive the greatest amount of your time and attention? Or, do you find yourself doing the same things today that you did yesterday simply because that is what you did the day before that?
For the next month, take stock of where your time and your life go. At the end of each day, write down the number of hours spent in each of the main areas of your life. An example of what those main categories might look like could be:
Areas of My Life
Physical Health & Well-Being
Primary Relationship, Spouse, Significant Other
Friends, Family, Children, Relationships
Finances and Money
Physical Surroundings (home, work, etc.)
Spirituality (connecting with a power greater than yourself)
Fun and Relaxation
Making a Difference in your Community and the World
After the month passes, total up the hours spent in each category and reflect back on how you spent your time. Did "reality" surprise you? Or, was it what you expected? How does the way you invest your time on a daily basis make you feel? Is it in alignment with your values and what you really want from your life?
Take some time to take stock in how you invest your most precious asset - time. Remember, tomorrow is promised to no one. Carpe Diem.
Copyright 2005, Paula Gregorowicz and The Paula G. Company