Time is the most important, the most in-demand resource that we have in life. Are you spending yours wisely or do you let it go to waste?
How much time?
The most finite resource that each of us has is our time. We can always make more money, but making more time is not something that any of us can do. While we can’t ever know exactly how much time we have, each of us can learn to spend our time more wisely.
“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.”
Are you just wasting time? How much time do you spend on social media? How much time do you spend on watching T.V. or Netflix on a given night? What are the time-suckers in your life? I mean how many likes do you need to give on Facebook? I find that I’ve had to limit my time on Facebook since it such an easy rabbit hole to fall in to.
I remember that I saw a talk once given by movie critic Micheal Medvid, when I was in college. While I don’t see eye to eye with him on a lot of things, he said something that really stuck with me. He said talked about how at the time the average American watched an average of 28 hours of TV a week. And this was before Facebook was even dreamed of. He talked about the fact that it’s not that there is enough quality media to watch. There’s plenty of good material. It’s that we lose a lot of our lives if we’re immersed in that much TV. We miss family connections. We miss out on living our own lives when we live by proxy of watching someone else’s life, real or fictional.
One area that I’m currently struggling with is deciding where I want to put my time outside of work. I have so many things that I’m interested in doing and things I want to work on that I struggle with paring things down so that I can give enough time to the things I really want to do. I have plenty of good options, things that are very interesting to me. But I’m struggling to choose one, and because of that indecision, I’m not really moving forward with any of my plans. I’m working through the choices and deciding where I want to go. I’ve set a deadline for the end of the year, so that I can focus my energy on a few things, rather than being spread too thin.
“Were all the geniuses of history to focus on this single theme, they could never fully express their bafflement at the darkness of the human mind. No person would give up even an inch of their estate, and the slightest dispute with a neighbor can mean hell to pay, yet we easily let others encroach on our lives — worse, we often pave the way for those who will take it over. No person hands out their money to passersby, but to how many do each of us hand out our lives! We’re tightfisted with property and money, yet think too little of wasting time, the one thing about which we should all be the toughest misers.”
— Seneca, “On the Shortness of Life,” 3.1-2
One of the things that we really need is to have our priorities lined up. This is going to be different for everyone. For some, family is their top priority. For others, it may be their work. Others it may be service to a cause. There is no perfect list of priorities. Each person needs to decide for themselves what is most important for them, and stay focused on it. If you don’t have a clear vision of where you want to go, then you’ll end up exactly where aim. Nowhere.
And the thing is, it’s going to vary for each person. Everyone has differing things that are of more or less important than others. And we need to understand that what we find important, is not going to be the same for others. And that’s okay. If everyone had the exact same priorities, we’d have a very much less interesting world to live in. Understanding what priorities are yours can help guide you in focusing on the things that are most rewarding.
One of the areas that can help you choose what your priorities are is by understanding your core values. We talked about this a few episodes ago, and these are the things that can help you stick to the priorities that are more rewarding for you.
As you move through the different stages of life you’ll find that the things that were important to you in your teen years will be far different than those in your twenties. Those things that seemed so important in your twenties will change dramatically in your thirties. Every stage of life is a place of learning new things. You’ll have different responsibilities and different things competing for your time. You’ll find that some things you thought were so important when you were in college seem ridiculous when you’ve you look back on them 10 years later. As we learn and grow as people, we’re always going to be changing.
So you need to ask yourself what you want to accomplish. Every choice you make then becomes a simple question: “Does this get me closer to the vision of my life? Does this move me forward on my goals?” And the thing is, you can and should choose at the time to do things that don’t move you forward. A life too focused means that you may miss out on some fun and interesting things. But what it really comes down to is being clear and deliberate about the things that you choose to spend your time on. It comes to making sure that you really think about each “yes” and “no”.
With the new year just around the corner, this is a good time for us to look at what we’re spending our time on in life. We can take time to be sure that the things we’re spending our time on are moving us forward towards the goals that we have in our lives. By taking the time to evaluate if the goals that we have line up with our priorities and our core values, we can be better at choosing those activities that enhance our lives. We can be sure
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