She sobbed from a broken heart as I sat with her. Then in despair she looked up and asked: “Why can’t we all just use our time to love each other like it was our last day on earth?”
I was processing my dear friend through the sudden loss of her husband. From diagnosis to his last breath had been less than a week.
She took a deep breath and continued with: “I’m certain of this one thing, he didn’t wish for more time here on earth to watch YouTube videos, post more sports commentaries on Facebook or veg out in front of the television.”
Because part of the grieving process is walking through those last moments, I assured her she was probably right. Then I asked her how she knew that.
She choked up again as she said, “Our last 48 hours together was perhaps the most precious time of our 38 year marriage.”
I held her hand as she cried from the depths of her gut. She continued: “He said again and again that he wished he had known sooner, and that he could just get a few weeks of time back. I asked him what he would do with them. He said he would drive over to A&M and spend Saturday with our son. He said he would go over to Forth Worth to see our daughter and son-in-law, and help our four-year-old grandson learn to play T-ball. Then he looked at me with the most sorrowful eyes I have ever seen and said, ‘I don’t even remember the last time I took you out on a date, had a meaningful conversation with you or told you how very much you mean to me.“
At that moment, we were both in tears as she recalled those precious moments.
Last week I wrote about the seven boats that successful people burn. One of those boats was wasting time. I received so more emails, texts and comments about that blog than I have in my four years of writing them.
Time is precious, and we can never get it back. As Maya Angelou says:
Since time is the one immaterial object which we cannot influence — neither speed up nor slow down, add to nor diminish — it is an imponderably valuable gift.
We’ve all been guilty of wasting time. Research reveals that for the average person who lives to be 72 years old, that by the time of their death, they will have spent:
- Almost 27 years sleeping
- About 8 1/2 years in front of the television
- Almost 7 years on social media.
Of course sleeping is critical for our health, but I wonder how much of that 8 1/2 years in front of a television and seven years on social media could have been used in healthier ways? Think about it … that’s a total of 15 ½ years!
For the successful people who have burned the boat to wasting time, research has revealed that that they regard time very differently than others do.
Here are seven key secrets they know about time:
1. You can never get it back. Therefore, be present.
Successful people who have burned the boat to time wasting are very aware of being present in the moment.
I define being present in the moment as:
Fully engaging with and connecting with whatever activity, person. group or situation is before me. Leaving the past in the past, and the future in the future. Enjoying the gift of the present moment. (And if I cannot enjoy it, making the changes it would require in order to enjoy it. And yes sometimes that means changing who I am spending my time with!)
Sad to say, it appears that many people are not present in the moment. Recently, I was sitting in a restaurant, and the person that I was with happened to be busy on their cell phone. I began glancing around the room to about 20 other tables that were in my view.
I noted that at the 18 tables where there was more than one person seated, that only one table was engaged in conversation and eye contact. At every other table, people were looking out the window, buried in their cell phones or staring off, lost in their own world.
There’s nothing I love more than being present in the moment. But there’s nothing more disappointing to me than spending time with someone else who is not present. All of my friends and family know that I make the “no cell phone“ request before sharing a meal.
What about you? How “present” are you in the moment? Knowing that you can never relive that moment again?
2. You can make time stand still, at least so it seems.
I according to scientists, there was only one time in our history that time stood still. That was on October 30, 1207 BC. Israeli history revealed that it occurred after Joshua prayed that the moon and sun would stand still.
Although we do not know how one could make time stand still, those who have burned the boat to time wasting know how to make it feel as if it’s standing still.
They do so by taking the opportunity to create memories out of moments. Ten, 15, 50 years later, we can recall those memories as if they occurred yesterday.
Recently I attended a reunion of the team of scientists that summited Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. As we sat around the table eating fajitas, we could recall the memories as if they were yesterday. The memory of Chris racing ahead on our practice climb of La Malinche in Mexico in order to moon all of us from the summit. Michael and I singing “Amazing Grace” at 19,351 feet with temps below zero, and no oxygen to breathe.
My mother and my Mamaw were experts at creating memories in the moments. I was recently sharing with a dear friend a moment when I was 11 years old when they were teaching me to sing a song: “Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, never let it fade away!“ Then they would have me jump as if grabbing a star from the clear skies of Texas and put them in my pocket. Then they would say: “Dream bigger!” And I would jump higher.
I hope I created a moment that made time stand still for a precious young woman recently. I have been wearing a “Giving Key“ for almost a year that said “fearless.“ I thought she was ready for that word and could use it well. (Giving Keys was established by Caitlin Crosby who encourages people to get a key with a power word on it to open the door to some quality or characteristic that you need in your life. Then to wear it until it’s become a part of your life. After that, you look for someone else who might need the word more than you do, and give it to them. You can order your giving key at http://www.thegivingkeys.com).
How can you begin to make time stand still by creating memories and moments that others shall never forget? And neither will you!
3. You manage time and don’t allow time to manage you.
Peter Drucker, known as the founder of “modern management“ says:
Everything requires time. It is the only truly universal condition. All work takes place in time and uses up time. Yet most people take for granted this unique, irreplaceable, and necessary resource. Nothing else, perhaps, distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time.
Tender loving care of time. What a powerful phrase! Particularly at a time in history when we tend to be oblivious of time, and our use of it.
We all are created equal in the sense that we are all allotted the same amount of time daily while we are alive. But how many of us can say that we take “tender loving care of that time?”
Lee Iacocca, an icon in the automotive industry has said:
The ability to concentrate and to use your time well is everything if you want to succeed in business-or almost anywhere else for that matter.
I was in my early 30s when I realized what a gift time was, and that I was solely responsible for how I use that time. Prior to that, I had what I believe was a popular attitude: “I don’t have time” or “I have plenty of time“ … depending on what I was addressing.
I was at a Tony Robbins event when the “power of time” hit home to me. He said these words which took root deep within me:
Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year — and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!
At that point I begin to actually track my time in hour blocks. Let me assure you that I did not like what it revealed. Although I felt helpless to do anything about it, I began reading and studying about managing my time.
Now it is interesting when I speak of my life experiences as an adult, I almost always hear comments such as: “How on earth have you had time to do all of that?“
My response is usually the same: “I have burned all boats to wasting time and manage and use the same hours (available to everyone) very carefully!“
What about you? Do you manage your time well? Or is time managing you?
4. You can harness the power of NET time.
I learned powerful truths in the same seminar I mentioned above with Tony Robbins. He began speaking to us about managing our NET time.
He began teaching us about using commute times (whether it be five minutes or five hours). To use that time to listen to personal growth podcasts, marriage improvement material, business success information.
Now I find NET time in putting on my make up each morning, waiting for my appointment at the dentist office, taking my bubble bath at night, walking to get my 15,000 steps daily. When I realized how many hours a week I had a NET time, I began harnessing the power of those moments.
What about you? Is sports radio improving your marriage? Is news commentary helping you take your business to another level? Is the pop magazine or the catalog in the waiting room challenging you to take your life to another new level of growth and fulfillment?
Harness the power of NET time!!
5. You are wise enough to believe every moment matters.
Yes! Every moment! Every moment matters!
When I first heard that, the concept seemed foreign to me. I was attending an event with Maya Angelou. She opened her presentation with :
“All great achievements require time.”
She continued with powerful words which were life-changing for me. She commented that if she could sit with each of us, and find out how we have spent the moments in our past week or mont, she could tell us whether or not we were ever going to achieve anything great.
She continued with her powerful, yet tender voice, conveying that what we do with every moment of time gifted to us determines our future. She began asking some rhetorical questions (which I was quite thankful I was not required to answer). Questions such as:
- When is the last time you spent serving someone or some cause?
- When is the last time you put away the distractions of media to consider your purpose here on this earth?
- How much time do you spend considering the gifts that you were born into the universe with, and how you might use them to make this world a better place?
I left with a very clear understanding that every moment matters.
I began considering every moment important. That’s not to say that I never waste time. Because there are days when I’ll allow myself some wasted time. But actually it’s not wasted at all. It’s something that rejuvenates me. Although it may appear wasted.
I’m certain if you had seen me lying in the sun and reading this past week, you may have mistaken it as a waste of time. However, the sun is very refreshing to me, and it was a perfect week with bright sun combined with a cool breeze. And I was reading about setting my goals for the upcoming year, some thing I do every September and October, to prepare for the year to come.
What about you? Do you make every moment count? If not, how can you make some moments count this very week?
6. You understand that time demonstrates your priorities.
We spend time with the things (people, activities, etc) that are most important to us.
Recently I was working with a couple and both were saying that they felt lonely. I asked each of them if they felt like a priority to their partner. Both nodded NO vehemently,.
I feel certain that they both hoped I would ask them why they did not feel like a priority to their partner. But instead I asked a very different question and told them I wanted each of them to answer it.
The question was this: “If I had a DVD of every moment of your life where are you were awake and fully clothed for the past 30 days, outside of work hours, (but including your breaks and lunch hour), where would I see you spent the majority of that time?
Their eyes rolled back into their heads as they signed and began to consider the past 30 days. I reminded them that they could not fool me because I had the DVD in hand.
I asked them to break down their activities and percentages that would equal 100.
- 50% sports related
- 20% to non-sports related media
- 10% family time
- 10% social media.
- 25% social media
- 20% working out
- 30% with friends
- 20% on household chores
- 5% on church activities
I commented that it was no wonder that they were both lonely. The marriage relationship got little to no time, meaning that it was not a priority to either of them.
I got the comment that is quite typical in this situation. He said, “Oh … she knows I love her. And just because we don’t spend lots of time together does not change that.”
She responded with: “I used to devote a lot of time to the marriage, but he was always wrapped up in sports and other stuff, so I finally created a life of my own.”
We scheduled some time for the marriage, beginning with several marathons with me, and then transitioning that marathon time to dating time, and quality time spent together.
If you were in my office, and I asked you the same question, what would I find to be the priorities in your life because of the time you devote to them?
I hope you will consider that carefully, and begin to make changes to what you just wrote your time to reflect what you desire to be your priorities! Where you spend your time speaks loudly of your priorities!
7. You make time for and share time with the people you value and treasure.
We are all busy. Whether you are busy wasting time, or busy with worthy causes, we are all busy. But we make time for, and share time with, the people we value and treasure.
Who are the top three people in your life that you value and cherish? How will you make time for them this week? Not just make time for them, but be fully present for and with them?
One of the people I value and treasure in my life is my good friend Lisa. We are both very busy, but as often as possible, we set time aside to take walks with one another.
No cell phones, no small talk. We check in with one another, wanting to know sincerely how each of us is doing. I always look forward to our walks, because I come away feeling more connected to her, and very refreshed!
Make time for who is important in your life this week. Your connection will grow, and you will grow!
Time. We all have an equal amount allotted to us daily. As my friend asked me while I was processing her grief over losing her husband, “Why can’t we all live, and connect with one another, like it was our last day on earth?”
Would you live your life like you did that this past week? I’ve committed anew and afresh to living that way.
Will you join me? If you will, we could make the world a better place in just one week. At least our little corner of the world would shine brighter!