It’s been a busy summer. I’ve been trying to find the next step in my career, wrapping up my current house flip, and continuing to work on my startup – www.zimidy.com. These things keep me crazy busy, like working 7 days a week for 12+ hours per day type of busy. When I think about what I want my life to be, this isn’t what I envision.
Luckily it is the summer after all, so amid all this craziness there have been a lot of parties and a lot of celebrations. In the spirit of the fun times, I want to make the case for disengaging and making sure you don’t sacrifice the time you have with the people you care about, purely to get ahead. Success is great, but balance is better.
In my last article on planning I laid out how you can make a plan to get to the next step in your career, or basically to accomplish any short or long term goal. Not long ago I came across an article on one of my favorite blogs, wait but why, where Tim (the blog author) illustrates how finite our lives really are (for now) and how you can look at a picture of your life to help with planning for what you have left. Tim’s personal calendar is an excellent planning tool to help keep you focused on things that are really important.
When I first read Tim’s article it got me thinking a lot about how I spend my own time, and about the times I value most in my own life. I realized, at the end of each year when I think back – I don’t really care much for all the time I spent working or alone. If I list out my top 10 moments in the last twelve months they are all times I’ve spent traveling with my girlfriend or celebrating with my friends and family. A few of the things that are definitely not on that list are:
- Staying home when I’ve been invited to do something.
- Working instead of celebrating with friends and family.
- Binge watching TV
A lot of the time we get run down after a long day, exhausted from yard work, or for some of us – just burnt out from running around with our kids. In the midst of all this, I think we forget that what we really care about is usually the time we spend together. Once again, when I look back at my previous year and list the best experiences I’ve had, binge watching TV shows on Netflix isn’t anywhere on that list. If you’re sacrificing time with the people you care about because you’re exhausted, tired, or simply don’t feel up for it – I think you’re making a mistake. In another of Tim’s articles on this same topic he makes a really good point about how many times he will see his parents before he dies. Tim was 34 when he wrote the article and suggested that he visits his parents for about 10 days a year. Assuming his parents are alive until he is about 60, he optimistically suggested that he had about 30 more years left to see his parents. Tim would only see his parents 300 more times before he never sees them again.
If you were only going to see your parents, your best friend, or your sister 300 more times, would you waste those moments? Would you skip out on getting dinner or drinks because you had a tough day at work? Would you go home early from a birthday party because you had to wake up early the next day to go to a job you don’t really get enjoyment from? In my opinion, it’s better to have a tired day at work then miss out on quality experiences with people that matter to me.
I almost always attend as many things as I possibly can fit in and very rarely leave early. I do this because if I’ve been invited somewhere, it’s because someone wants to see me. Having me there not only improves their experience in that moment, but, it gives me a positive memory to think back on. To this same point, when we’re participating in a social event with people we care about, we need to engage and be present. I don’t always enjoy certain games or certain types of activities, but I always try to participate because it enhances everyone’s experience when we all participate; so long as you participate with the intention of having a good time, rather than doing it against your will. In almost every situation where I’ve chosen to participate rather than sit on the sidelines, I’ve had way more fun! We rarely remember the parties where we refused to participate, didn’t have any fun, and then went home early. Attend more, be present more often, and cherish the time you have left with those you care about. It’s worth it.
Here is Tim’s life calendar. Each block is one week of your life. Take a long look at it and realize that the time we have is limited. We need to be deliberate in how we choose to spend it and who we choose to spend it with. There isn’t enough of it to waste or to spend being unhappy.
How many weeks have you already used? I’m almost 31 at this point, just a couple months away. Half of my healthy life is gone. I want to spend the next half in the best way I can. For now, that means I’ll be working my ass off for at least the next 5 years so that I can spend the last 25 doing everything I want. I will make sure to be present in the moments I get to spend with those I care about, and I’ll continue to push myself to participate even when I don’t really feel up to it. Not just for me, but to make the squares of the people I care about even more valuable as well.
I suggest you take a few minutes to read the two articles I linked to above, Tim has a lot more examples and a lot more charts worth looking into. If you liked this article and think other people you know should be paying more attention to the time they have left then you need to share it. Otherwise they’ll stay in the dark forever, and that’s no way to treat your friends!
As always, thanks for reading, follow, join, share and all that other stuff. Before you go, here’s a quick video to help push this concept a bit further, I first watched this many years ago and it had a dramatic impact on me, maybe it will for you too.