Updated: Sep 2, 2020
Every year I gather around my brother's living room TV to countdown with my family as we cross into the next 365 days. We anxiously stand together with glasses of Welch's sparkling cider in our hands, my children hanging off my legs, and our eyes locked on the bright ball centered smack dab in the middle of Times Square.... 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 - HAPPY NEW YEAR! We smile, share kisses and hugs to lively music and we embrace the change in time that undoubtedly comes with a plethora of resolutions and promises for new growth.
The birth of 2019 felt different than its predecessors. In prior years, I made new year resolutions and created goals to accomplish by "next year". Yet this time, I came into this new space feeling more cognizant of my place in the world. I may have finally started to realized the value of time overall. Meaning I see that tomorrow is not a guarantee, so it is critical that I make good use of today.
About a decade ago I had youth in my corner and saw time as my partner in crime. But now, I wipe away a tear at my child's birthday party every year. Don't get me wrong, I'm overjoyed my children are growing and healthy - able to see life and learn. I'm not the mom sobbing in the corner with a bottle of wine in her hand... I'm the mom who stares at baby pics of them all morning beforehand and cries just for a second while I pick up the cake. My tears are heavy with happiness for their future, prideful of the moment, and bittersweet as they drift further away from being mommy's baby boys. Watching them age is my constant reminder of how quickly time passes us by, and how defenseless we are to slow it down.
Although it moves at hyper speed, we can use time to create our long and short term goals. Once established, check your timeline to stay on track. Setting goals help us to determine our dreams, but why do we so often allow our blinders to block out the journey? In my senior year of college, I remember my eyes being laser-locked on the finish line, which definitely helped keep away distractions. The downside is I couldn't see (or appreciate) my fan club cheering me on from the sidelines, nor did I notice the road signs warning me of what was coming next. 'Tis true, I earned my degree, but my memories of senior year suck. Instead of late nights at frat parties with my girls, chopping it up after class around the tree (reference for all of my Boilermakers), or going on a road trip for my final Spring Break, I worked two jobs and buried my head in my books. Hindsight is 20/20... now I've learned to place my attention in the moment.
When you are moving through your day think about time and what you could accomplish if you refocused your attention. Maybe you spend the first hour of work warming up - drinking a cup of coffee, texting the fam and browsing your inbox. Instead, try to cut down on your daily warm up and ease into your workload a little sooner. For balance you can shift your mental timeouts throughout your day. For example, I like to dive right into my inbox and power through the load once I get into the office. If my brain gets a little hot and bothered, I take a walk and have a 10 minute decompressing session. At the end of my day when I'm done working, I am DONE working - no more emails (even on my phone) no more talking about work projects. Once you've powered down, own that decision and unplug. Try reading a book for 15 minutes, listening to music or writing in a journal.
I challenge you to value your time more than your money; material things will always come and go, but a wasted year in a dead-end job or nurturing a poisonous relationship may hurt you more than help you. *Disclaimer* This is case by case, meaning that same dead-end job could provide you with valuable learning opportunities and professional connections, so it wouldn't count as wasted time* Understand that people will take as much as you will give, so it is up to you to be wise and remain alert of behaviors and damaging habits of your chosen circle. Whether you are wasting hours browsing Instagram at work, or so focused on Point Z you miss the other pit stops of the alphabet, it's never too late to stop and reflect on your unique situation. The value of time is precious; we cannot afford to continually throw it away.