My name is Tim, and I’m addicted to time.
I’m so freaking impatient I take the stairs instead of the escalator because I can’t stand for 10.5 seconds in silence. I’m not sure what I did with this 10.5 seconds I gained back, but most likely I wasted it on one of those messenger apps.
While I don’t believe that we should waste time, I do believe we shouldn’t become obsessed with it. Time is more important than money. It’s the clock that never stops and it will end one day.
With that said, we can’t keep being obsessed with time. This obsession has become a disease for the new breed of high achievers. All this motivational content we can now consume makes us feel like we have to achieve so much more than we really do.
Our reality sabotages us
Our life feels like a race because we look at what everyone else is doing and then compare it with our own results. When I look at my friends I see:
– They’re married
– They own a house (or two)
– They have kids
– They have perhaps found their dream job
– They’re very fit
– They have more followers than me
Who says that this is what success looks like? Who puts a timeline on when or even why you need to do all of these things?
One of my friends told me the other day that he doesn’t want kids. I thought it was odd until I saw how happy he was with knowing what he wants. All of our success is different.
I once dated this girl who always had to be certain. She told me that she needed to be certain about: marriage, kids, owning a house, investments, holidays, etc. I thought about this for a while and realized that it’s impossible to guarantee anything in life.
Just last week, this idea came up again. I was reading this book called “Tiny Beautiful Things.” The book is a collection of letters to a writer called “Sugar.”
Sugar posts each letter on her online column and then posts the response to the question in the letter. The questions range from how to: deal with: divorce, children, cheating, pregnancy, miscarriage, rape and almost any challenge you could think of in life.
After reading all the letters, I saw a familiar pattern: there are no guarantees. You have to be prepared that tragedy or pain could strike at any time. The problem each of the authors of these letters suffered from was that they thought once you have a plan in place, nothing gets in the way.
Once you’re married, supposedly you’re secure. Yet, what I’ve learned is that security is a myth.
“You have to live with the confidence that anything could happen at any time and that you have the power to overcome any adversity”
If you don’t live with that power, then when life knocks you flat on your ass, you’re going to experience extreme pain. That could then be followed by drugs, alcohol, out of control sex (the bad kind), mental illness, sickness and unemployment.
Your timeline is a myth, sorry
So if we have no real certainty then how does that affect how we think about time? It means that the race we think of as life, with all of these time indicators, is a total myth! If we take it a step further, it means that your timeline for this whole achievement race is a waste.
When you think you are falling behind because of a setback, at another point in time, you will catch up and progress one hundred miles in front of where you thought you would be. There will be moments of massive momentum, and then moments of incredible failure. It’s all gravy.
What you think you want, you don’t
You’re running this race against time because of the things you think you want. Someone said something to me the other day that was profound. They said:
“Tim, single people want to be married, and married people want to be single.”
We’re always chasing the next sunset because we think that’s what we want. When we finally get it, we want the opposite. It’s easy to obsess over something you don’t have. It’s not hard to feel like you’ve been lazy with your time.
The truth is your wants will change and so will the timeline. Embrace this uncertainty and know that surprises are fun. Life is going to throw things at you and that’s what makes it worth living.
“Reading the same story over and over, when you know the ending, is boring. Life is the same”
The point of this post is that you are racing ahead trying to win a race that doesn’t exist. So now that we know this race is a myth, we can slow down.
By slowing down, we can enjoy where we are right now. We can be happy with all the things we’ve accomplished rather than dwelling on what we think we should have already completed. By slowing down, we get to be truly happy again.
We can sit by the beach and watch a sunset. We can hang out with friends and be fully present without a phone in sight. We can eat an incredible meal and enjoy every bite. Why can we slow down and do these things? Because we’ve quit the race we thought we were running.
By seeing the truth, we’ve created possibility in our lives. We’ve become open to whatever life throws at us and we’re equipped to deal with the different seasons of life. I’m sitting here drinking Chinese tea right now and it tastes delicious. I’m enjoying it because today I’ve decided to slow down.
I’ve decided to quit the race, and enjoy myself instead. I’ve decided to see things differently and I encourage you to do the same.