Part 5: Time

As a kid I used to remember telling my mom I was bored all the time. I just wanted something to do. That was before the internet and video games so kids spent a lot of time playing games outside like football. As a young man my thoughts were consumed with money. All I could think about was working, earning money, and spending it. Now, at age 43, I typically spend the bulk of my life wishing I had more time with family and friends.

This segment is about managing time for work, family, self, and entertainment. Think of a pie. Not an apple pie, or a pecan pie, but a pie that represents time. Let’s start with a pie that specifically portions out your lifetime. We know that about one third of our 24 hour day is spent sleeping. I doubt many people really think along those terms but when it comes to awareness and urgency this is an important distinction. The early life-pie has about 12-18 years of education which consumes another third of our lives (8 hours a day) for those years. Wow…that leaves one third of our lives from age 5-18 up to age 24 that we have for family, personal time, and entertainment. What did you do during that last third of your life from kindergarten through high school or college? Why not grab a piece of paper and sketch this out? The visualization will be useful.

OK, so we have an idea of what we did in the early years. What about now if you are out of school? I bet you still sleep about 8 hours a day. My guess is that you are now working in some capacity either in the workforce or at home. Go ahead and make a second pie and sketch that out. If you are not yet working then we will make a prediction of what you want to do. Show the sleep time, work time and the remainder. If you are retired you should make a third pie. We will get there in a minute for those who are not yet retired.

Here is the most amazing part. Ask yourself what is most important. Make a list and rank order it. Is family important? What about God/religion? Is it important to continue to learn/study new things? What about hobbies and entertainment? Be sure to put all of the things that consume time on your list. Lastly, let’s go ahead and figure out how many hours a day each of these events will take. The calculation isn’t too tough but if you need some help, go ahead and contact us and we will work with you one on one.

Once you have the past mapped out and the present mapped out we can analyze what is going on and get the future mapped out. That is the coolest part. Are you done? Seriously, just scribble it out and then we will move on. This is for you after all.

Look at the charts you made. Compare them with the priorities you wrote down for the things that are important to you. What do you see in the past? Was there much time for family, God/religion, and so forth? My guess is probably not. Kids focus on fun in their downtime so there should be a huge block of time spent playing. Do the same thing with your present era life-pie. Are you spending your time doing what you think is important or are you doing other things like working overtime? Go ahead and compare the present era pie to your priorities and make a few notes. This analysis is about to get interesting.

We are in the home stretch. Let’s look at the late era pie. For retirees, this could be present era but for many this will be the future pie. For the over 55 folks, hang on. We are getting there. For those who are still in the working years what do you see? Look closely. I bet you are building families so your pie might show time with kids. Maybe you help out with scouts or baseball or gymnastics. Heck you might be a full time driver and chaperone for the kids. It is important and it takes time so put it on there if your missed that one.

Now ask yourself this question: Am I spending my time doing what I want to do or what I have to do?

This is a powerful question. If you are doing the things you want to do then you are probably a well adjusted and happy person, but that is just one possibility. If you are doing what you have to do then you might suddenly have some insight into your life for change. There really must be a nice balance between the two. We all tend to have to work and we usually want to spend time with family but more often than not, those two things compete for your time. Make a few more notes and we will move on to the last piece.

I love it when I hear people say retirement is the glory years. I honestly think your entire life can be glorious but there is something satisfying about not having to go to work and being able to spend more time doing what you want rather than what you must. If you are in retirement then go ahead and look at your pie. Are you doing what you want more than what you must? I would say if you aren’t then you should evaluate the root cause and try to make some adjustments. We can help you if you get a little stuck.

So here we are as a group now looking at the future era-pie. This is where we plan for taking control of our lives. You still need about 8 hours of sleep. You know what you are likely to do given the other pies we just looked at. You have a list of priorities. Build that last pie! Ask yourself the tough questions and be honest. What is important to you? How much time can I dedicate to doing the important things so that I can maximize what I want to do while getting the things I have to do…done?

Once you are finished, talk about your discoveries with a friend or family member. See if they will go through the same drill that you just tried. Be sure to let them do their own work. Try not to influence them and never push them to do what is important to you…it should be about them. Once they are done, you can compare notes. Don’t argue about it…get in tune with each other (especially if it is your significant other) and work through the differences. From here you can set goals and plan for the rest of your lives.

The lesson here is simple. Our time on this Earth is limited. For all of us there is enough time to get more out of life than we have in the past. Know yourself! Be honest with yourself! Plan for a good and healthy life and enjoy the ride.

Curtiss Robinson – Soldier, Mentor, Martial Artist