Making Time For Ourselves.
It is amazing how much time there is in life if we only learn to use it. It is amazing how much time we can waste, and how short life can be if we do not learn to make use of our time. Distractions are everywhere. We have built a sizable amount of the economy on distracting you.
This means that there are a lot of people and systems out there that have incentives to derail your life goals. They do this to ensure that they hit their goals. They are far happier if you sit for two or three hours in bed scrolling through a newsfeed than actually achieving something. Writing your book, hitting the gym, or spending quality time with your family and friends is an antithesis to their corporate goals.
In the past year, I’ve had to wake up at some ridiculous times for work due to time differences. I noticed last night that I never wake up early for myself. I don’t make time for my own life goals, which arguably are far more important than any work project.
And so today I did.
I woke up way early than anyone else in my house and spent time writing in my journal and thinking through my goals. I get to enjoy watching the sunrise and the interesting mix of colors in the sea from the view I have in my living room. This is the type of alone time that we need if we want to make progress.
What is amazing is that by waking up early, I can spend two, even three hours doing anything that I want to do. I know for a fact that there won’t be any distractions.
That’s a lot of time each day, especially when you compare it to the total time that one is awake and active each day.
With three hours a day, there is a lot of scope to achieve many things. To work silently on personal projects and slowly watch them grow and take shape.
It also helps that today is the start of a new month, and I’ve written before about this. There is always something in the air at the start of a new month or year. While, of course, it is no different from any other day, there is a sense that it is easier to take a deep breath and start again.
This is important. The quality of our lives and the ability for us to achieve our objectives is built on the ability to constantly start again when we hit failure — which will happen often.
Being able to stay calm, review the situation, and then get back on track is a key skill. Nothing will ever go according to plan. But, the comforting thing is that very few challenges in life are able to withstand constant daily effort over long periods of time. With enough time and attention, you are likely to accomplish a significant amount of what you set out to do.
I do find that writing a journal is a very good strategy to bring this to light. I can read back at my goals and aspirations from six years ago when I was in my mid-twenties. Some things have stayed the same, but some goals I managed to achieve and exceed beyond my imagination at the time.
Without taking the time to write them down and record them, I probably would have completely forgotten about what I wanted to achieve. Perhaps, I would not even realize that I have been able I achieve many things in life that were previously only ideas.
We need to have the realization that we are living the dream life. The dreams of our past selves, or at the very least, dreams of millions or billions of people around the world that are less fortunate than us. This is a key building block to appreciating what we have.
Although the world can feel like it is going from crisis to crisis, the data shows that at no time in history have so many people had such a high standard of living. The improvements even in the last twenty years have been quite amazing.
The world is rapidly getting rid of extreme poverty. Billions of people are getting access to a quality of life that was only a dream for previous generations.
That said, when we measure the quality of life in these studies, we look at things like access to healthcare, sanitation, consumer good, and safety.
These are important, but it is still possible to throw away your life and end up in a dark deep pit of meaningless when you have all your material needs met.
Humans need more than that.
We need purpose, we need goals, we need human connection.
Without these, we feel empty and depressed. Some of the highest suicide rates are in developed economies such as Korea, Japan, and many countries in Europe.
In some ways, what has not gotten easier is finding your purpose in life. Finding something that gives you meaning and gives you a reason to wake up early in life.
I wonder if instead of needing to find meaning and purpose, one starts with responsibility.
Instead of having something to wake up early for, you start by waking up early?
Start a project, take some risks, bear some responsibilities, and perhaps this will create the web of meaning that we all crave?
While most initiatives in life may start out as solo ventures, they will often need collaboration with other people. This creates the need to make promises and hold yourself accountable.
People will depend on you doing what you said you were going to do. This creates a responsibility, and in achieving this responsibility, you can find meaning.
This doesn’t have to be about saving the world or any grandiose idea. It might be something as trivial as sending a status report to your client. But, if you focus and do it at the highest possible quality, you can extract meaning from any trivial act.
I’ll leave you with one final thought.
If you have ever tried meditation, you may have felt quite different in some of your meditation sessions. The interesting thing is that there isn’t any difference between a deep meditation session and focussing deeply on any task in life.
Even drinking a glass of water, done with enough attention, can be as enriching as a session of meditation.