“Buckle up securely and brace for impact.” I was terrified!
We were descending quickly and you could see absolutely nothing in the white-out snowstorm. We knew we were descending quickly, and suddenly at touchdown we could see that we were landing horizontally across the runway. The plane spun, people screamed. I prayed, as I grabbed my courageous former husband’s arm, who retorted, “Kiss your a** goodbye!“
It was one of those moments when it suddenly became clear what mattered in life. Although it all occurred in a matter of seconds, it felt like I had an hour to review my life.
Suddenly the ski trip to Durango, Colorado had become insignificant as I was frantically attempting to recall the last time I had spoken to my mother. I was concerned my clients might be negatively impacted if I did not make it. I did an urgent inventory of family and friends I wished I could say one more thing to.
I was not afraid of dying. I was mostly afraid that I had not lived my life to its fullest, and placed enough passion and determination into living my purpose.
As the plane spun around, suddenly we were ascending again. Just as we were ascending in a manner that felt far too quickly, it sounded like two shotguns were fired. No one spoke a word, and you could have heard a pin drop.
The pilot came on and said that upon lift off we had lost an engine; AND they would not allow us to return to Durango, due to dangerous conditions. But with a blown engine, we could not get back over the mountains to get back to Denver. So they were searching for a place for us to land. It was what I at first called the “flight from hell,” but now refer to as the “flight out of hell!” Although I didn’t realize it until then, wasted time was my personally created hell up until that time.
Why did I call it that? Because although it was literally gut wrenching, it led me to a new way of living. Living intentionally, living purposefully, living passionately, and living like I was dying (you can read more about living like you were dying in another blog by clicking here).
Just this past weekend, one of the people that I love and respect the most on this earth had shared with me the Ted talk of Ric Elias, who was a passenger in first class when Captain Sully landed the plane in the Hudson river. He talked about the three things he learned in that experience, and it caused me to reflect on what three things I took away from my chilling plane experience.
Here were my three realizations that guided some major life choices:
1. Wasting time, or living “wasted” is something you can never ever get back
2. Living each day passionately, and determined to fulfill my purpose would always me a priority
3. Expressing my love to everyone that I love and care about. To say it, write it, text it as often as possible
I had already written the meat of this blog on “time wasting” when I watched the Ted talk by Ric Elias. But recalling my experience on that dreadful flight confirmed my topic for this week.
Wasted time… Or living “wasted“ … are indeed moments we can never, never get back. A. W. Tozier, well known author and mentor, said it well: “When you kill time, remember that it has no resurrection.”
First let me clarify what I’m calling “wasted time”, or living “wasted.“ I’m certainly not saying that my definitions are the only definitions or the right ones, I’m just clarifying what I’m speaking of. Because I had to clarify that for myself on that fateful night in a plane with a blown engine, as the pilot searched for a safe place to land.
This became my definition of “wasted time”:
1. Any time or activity not spent investing in myself and/ or people I care about (friends, family, clients, etc.)
2. Any time or activity that I would not want to be known publicly
3. Any time or activity not spent In preparation for living out my purpose with passion
At first glance you may find that restrictive. But it truly isn’t. When I share about this people often say, “Well, does that mean you can never go to a movie?” Of course not! Going to a movie may be very inspiring and/or relaxing for me, preparing me to invest in others, to live my purpose passionately, or to become an even better healing partner. However, I would not watch a movie that I would be ashamed for others to know that I had watched.
You won’t find me watching 12 movies a week or binging for hours on Netflix. I’m not saying that binging or 12 movies is “bad” … I’m saying that, for me, it is time that I can never get back. And I deeply desire my minutes and hours to count for something!
What about you? How do you spend your time? Really! If someone followed you around with a camera … How many hours would they find you in front of a television? How many hours would they find you in a bar? How many hours would they find you wasting hours on social media? I encourage you to conduct an honest inventory.
What do I mean by living “wasted?“ I’ve worked for years with addicts, and here is my diagnostic definition:
Using any substance or process to deal with painful reality… That has harmful consequences to both yourself, and those you love; which you refuse to acknowledge, and to make appropriate course corrections. (And by the way, regardless of your size, research says being “wasted” is anything beyond one alcoholic beverage, two small beers, or two small glasses of wine).
Years ago when Carrie underwood released her song, “Wasted”, I wept as I listened to the words. Not only have I treated thousands of addicts through our inpatient and outpatient treatment centers, but I have been an addict myself.
I’m sure that I have your full attention now!
Yes, I was an addict. A full-blown sugar addict. You may laugh at that, but my withdrawal and detox after being challenged to give up sugar was true to what research says… that withdrawal from sugar is worse than withdrawal from cocaine.
When I heard Carrie Underwood’s song, I remembered sitting in the corner of my room in a fetal position, trembling, sweating, and sobbing in desperation for just one more sugar hit.
The words to her song were so true to my experience, only I was giving up sugar, and in the song he was giving up alcohol:
Another glass of whiskey but it still don’t kill the pain
So he stumbles to the sink and pours it down the drain
He says it’s time to be a man and stop living for yesterday
Gotta face it
Cause’ I don’t wanna’ spend my life jaded
Waiting to wake up one day and find
That I’ve let all these years go by. Wasted!
I was just like many people who struggle with ADHD, deep internal pain, and/or a hole in our soul. We stabilize our brain chemicals with substances. The only real difference between me, an alcoholic, and a drug addict, was that I had chosen a legal, and socially acceptable substance.
After I came out of that three-day experience in my room white knuckling my way through a horrendous detox, I realized I had spent much of my life wasted. In a sugar coma!
If you are using alcohol, drugs, sugar, or a process addiction (work, porn, shopping, etc.), I challenge you to get the help you need … to heal the hole in your soul, to make moments count, instead of living your life wasted. When you are “wasted”, no one can truly connect with you, and you are unable to connect with others. PLEASE wake up. You have gifts in you that we need. They will never emerge from a wasted state.
“I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME”
It’s interesting that one of the excuses that I frequently hear from people in regard to every area of their life (whether it’s investing in their relationships, working in their businesses, getting in shape, etc.) is: “I don’t have enough time.” There is a plethora of scientific research that has supported the fact that we all have all the time we need.
Recently, a groundbreaking research project revealed that most of us waste an average of 21.8 hours a week.
Further research illustrates that the average business owner works about 60 hours a week, and at least 6 and often 7 days a week. However, interviews of business owners revealed that at least 30% of their workweek comprised of activities involving hours spent on low to no value benefit for the business. Which is all equivalent to time wasted.
WHAT ARE THE MOST POPULAR TIME WASTERS?
Here is some of the research on time wasted. Hopefully you will not see as much of yourself here as I discovered as applicable to me as I did a mental checklist on that alarming flight:
- 2.34 hours checking email (30% are neither urgent nor important.) (Carleton University)
- 35 minutes deciding what to eat (New York Post)
- 16 minutes deciding what to wear (women) (The Telegraph)
- 14 minutes for men (Marks and Spencer)
- 7 minutes thinking about exercise (but doing nothing) (Kettler)
- 37 minutes on Facebook (Verto Analytics)
- 27 minutes on other social media accounts (eMarketer)
- 40 minutes on YouTube (Mediakix)
- 1 hour in meetings (Inc) and 50% of that time is wasted (Atlassian)
- 4 hours watching TV (Statista)
- 96 minutes surfing non-work related websites (CNBC)
- 171 minutes checking your smartphone (comScore)
- 90 mins in daily interruptions (such as colleagues asking questions) (WashingtonPost)
- Time during commutes NOT learning from books, ebooks, audiobooks or podcasts.
- Time worrying about outcomes that won’t happen or you can’t do anything about.
- Time frustrated about someone’s attitudes, activities
- Time spent thinking about working on something (like phoning a client, outsourcing an unwanted job, or preparing for a meeting) but doing nothing.
- Time spent learning how to do something (like graphic design, Facebook advertising, research or fixing your lawnmower) that someone can do for half the price in half the time.
- Time spent making lists over and over, but never moving forward on important work.
If you are honest, it might be alarming to see yourself all over these lists!
WHAT ON EARTH DO I DO IF I SEE MYSELF ALL OVER THAT LIST?
So what are the solutions to breaking the habit of wasting time or living life wasted?
1. Learn to block time. What does that mean? Block time for the most important things first, and then let the surrounding times be fillers or “downtime.“ I sit with my calendar every Sunday evening and I block time for the really important things. Time for clients, time for workouts, time for my important relationships, Time for my online business, time for personal and spiritual growth.
During those blocked times, I do not check email, texts, or social media. All the things of lesser importance fit around those blocked times. (I was amazed that when I turned all of my notifications off, I was so much more productive!)
2. Develop routines. Research indicates that if we have productive routines, we are less likely to fall into wasting time. I have a miracle morning and a miracle evening routine. Things that set my day up for success in the morning (my miracle morning), and things that wrap my day up with gratitude in the evening (my miracle midnight). Between those two (miracle morning and miracle midnight), my blocked times mentioned above are part of my routine. (I often refer to it as my miracle morning, my miracle blocks, and my miracle midnight … with plenty of room between for down time!) Routines help keep us focused and keep us free of wasting time.
3. Nix multitasking. For many years I’ve bragged about being the “queen of multitasking.” And although I have to say I was fairly good at it, when I encountered the powerful research around its risks, I decided it was in my best interest to nix multitasking.
- The Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London conducted a study that revealed multitasking actually reduces your IQ significantly more than simply losing a good night’s sleep, or even more than smoking marijuana!
- Another research project conducted at Stanford University indicated that multitaskers are terrible at important mental tasks like ignoring irrelevant info, or holding info in their heads. At the same time, it actually decreases highly relevant mental tasks like reasoning.
OOPS! Nix the multi tasking!
4. Practice FOCUS. Years of research has informed us that whatever we focus on, our reticular activating system helps us with. If we focus on social media, our reticular activating system will remind us to check in, to see how many likes we got, to read each comment written.
When we change our focus to things that really matter, it makes a world of difference. I set my focus each morning by reading aloud my daily proclamation, my power word, and my goals. It sets my reticular activating system to working toward my goals, toward what I’m proclaiming and toward the acronym I use for my power word. Which is why I take great care in developing and writing them annually, and editing them quarterly.
5. Embrace PURPOSEFUL LIVING WITH PRIORITY – When I train and certify Life Coaches, I divide lives, businesses and relationships into 7 core areas, using the word “RESPECT” as an acronym.
Purposeful Living with Priority
Energy and Health
Career & Finances
Teaching / Touching Others
Most of them are self explanatory, but the number one question is: “What does purpose for living with priority mean?” It means:
Knowing your purpose and making sure that you live with that purpose as a priority. Many people do not know their purpose, or have had major life changes and have not spent the dedicated time and effort to repurpose their lives.
Purposeful living with priority becomes a great filter for what we say yes to, and what we say no to. I get the opportunity daily to say yes to many wonderful things. But I have learned that if they are not aligned directly or indirectly with my purpose, although they may be good things, they may also actually be wasted time if I choose to say yes to them.
5. Engage in accountability. Find someone that you can trust to become accountable to with how you spend your time.
Not someone who will just say what you want to hear, but also not someone who will shame you ruthlessly. Engage with someone who’s courageous enough to say when warranted: “It sounds like you’ve lived wasted a couple of evenings this week, and/or that you wasted a lot of time on social media. I see you changed your profile picture three times this week and commented on about 50 posts. That’s all fine and good if you accomplished all of the things you blocked time for, if you did your miracle mornings and evenings, and if you invested in yourself and in your important relationships first.”
OUCH! But we all seem to wiggle ourselves into lifestyles that lack accountability if we don’t check ourselves and make it a priority!
ARE YOU WILLING TO COMMIT TO LIVING LIFE PURPOSEFULLY AND TO LEAVING WASTING TIME OR LIVING WASTED BEHIND?
Why am I so committed to making sure you are not wasting time or spending your life wasted? Because as a treasured and respected friend of mine, who suggested this as my tagline said, “YOU CAN NEVER GET THAT TIME BACK.”. REALLY! You can never get that time back. Time is valuable. You have gifts and greatness in you that others need to experience. They will never experience it if you waste your time or spend your life wasted.
Back to the flight where the pilot was searching for a safe place where we could land with our blown engine. Not able to return to Durango, and not able to fly at an altitude that would clear the mountains in order to return to Denver … I was considering wasted time and living wasted. I made a promise to God, and to myself, that if I made it to the ground safely, I would deal with wasted time. I would deal with living wasted. That neither would be a part of my life going forward.
There was incredible relief when the pilot came on and announced that they were opening the Albuquerque airport, after hours, in order for us to land. When the wheels hit the runway the plane exploded in cheers. I don’t think any of us minded sitting in the airport all night, despite the fact that there were no concessions, and that we did not know when we would be able to fly out to Durango.
As for me … I had no time to waste. I got a stack of napkins and began making notes. Many of which you see above in this blog. I was so very grateful to be alive, and I’ve never forgotten my commitment to never again waste lots of time, or live my life wasted.
I hope you will not need a horrifying experience like I had in order to make the decision to make your life count. To make the moments count. To invest in yourself, in other, in your purpose, and your relationships.
There are things in you that we all need! Reach inside. Call them out or back to life again. I challenge you to live your life purposefully, with priority!