Live this day as if it were your last
If, like me, you constantly live with the feeling that time is running out (even at aged 42) and you should be getting it together, then the one constant that we all have to deal with is time.
As John Adair remarked in his seminal book, Effective Time Management: “Time is a scarce resource. It is irreplaceable and irreversible. Few things are more important to us than learning how to save time and to spend it wisely”.
It doesn’t matter whether you live in sunny Devon, England, as I do, or on the other side of the world, we all have the same amount of time.
In my experience, time is one of those unspoken, ethereal concepts that we deal with in a cavalier way. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t expect my 13 year old to fret about time but even she recognises the importance of time in the context of getting the school bus – although that is a struggle some days.
I know it shouldn’t eat me up but I can’t help showing my frustration when I see people wasting this supremely, precious (life) resource by doing all manner of vacuous things that have no sense of purpose – not even the simplest of things likely to make them happy (often doing nothing is good so long as that is not your manifesto for life).
It is undoubtedly the case that with more thought around the subject we would respect more the concept of time, even if some people found it more difficult to change ingrained (time wasting) habits.
My 3 top tips for making more of each day:
1. As the title suggests, my top tip is to live each day as if it were your last.
I know this sounds morose but how many times do we read stories of people who have been diagnosed with a terminal condition who seem to be able to summon up such courage and focus that it makes me cry sometimes thinking of the effort and pain that they must have gone through. An example of this is the late Jane Tomlinson who ran innumerable marathons whilst undertaking or coming through some very harsh chemotherapy. Now that’s courage.
So what’s the excuse for people not adopting this mentality? Is it the validity of the situation or the fact that it doesn’t seem real; and why should it if you are 19 years old; the average life span of men and women means you have at least 50 years still to go.
The trouble with this mindset is that by the time most people get around to working out that they are living on borrowed time they are at a position in their lives where the risk and sacrifices that they should have made many years previously now look too much of a challenge and it is easier to remain with the status quo: get up, go to work, come home, eat and go to bed.
Stop the rot now with self-discipline; everything in life starts off small and so if you start now living by this manifesto then pretty soon there will be no more slouching around. Now I am not talking about becoming busy to fill the time but working on using your best time to do the best things in the course of your day.
2. Each night before you go to bed make a contract with yourself where you irrevocably agree with yourself the top 3 things that you must do tomorrow. Like any wish list you have to be passionate about what you are asking yourself to do. You have to ardently want to achieve the 3 things. If you don’t have that level of desire then you won’t have the motivation and drive enough to see them through.
3. Take a sabbatical every month for at least one full day where you go native and take yourself off somewhere away from the domesticity of life. Ideally if you can take yourself out of your comfort zone then so much the better. The idea of this process is to give you the freedom to reflect on your triumphs and failures over the course of the month. Don’t tie this day off with some other goal that you have to achieve. Just take yourself away from your normal stuff.
The bottom line is that you have One Life and life is not a practice run – it is for real.