Time; How Much Have You Got?


“I’ll get around to that one day.”

“I can do it tomorrow”.

“That’s important sure, but I’ve got lots of time.”

So how much time do you have and how can you be so sure? Honestly, you don’t know how much time you’ve got; none of us do. Generally speaking, when we’re young we don’t even think about how much time we’ve got, we just enjoy the here and now. As we move into our teens we start looking a few years ahead – milestones like getting a driver’s licence, graduating from high school, our first jobs, plans for the upcoming weekends have us looking ahead, but not too far down the road. Soon we look into the future and see the day we’ll move out, maybe plan a wedding date, think about having children, a better job, etc.

Fast-forward a bit and we’re suddenly much more appreciative of the concept of time; but we still believe we have lots left. For the first time we start seriously regretting some of our previous choices. Sure we might have regretted things in our childhood, but it’s hard thinking of any major decisions we made that had long-lasting implications. Ah, but as a teenager or young adult, we’d go back if we could and take back some of the things we said, actions we took, hurt we caused.

Some of those regrets might even be preventing us from doing things we’d like today. Dropping out of high school or taking college-level courses instead of university prep courses . Who would have thought we’d change our minds and actually want to go to University? Didn’t see that coming!

In the latter stages of our lives, we’ll hopefully look back and not have too many regrets; if we don’t, we’ll have lived a life worth living we assume. Maybe we’ll have made a difference in the world, had a big extended family, seen the world, lived in the dream condo or home we pictured as a young adult. Who knows? Depends what we consider important enough. One thing seems pretty clear now: the older we became, the more we appreciated the saying, “Time flies.” Where did it go?

Of course you’ll have noticed I skipped over the 30 – 75 or so time period. Rather a large part of one’s life to skip! You might figure that 45 year period or so is enough time to make some readjustments, mend some mistakes, figure a few things out that we thought we had right. Maybe we have that time and maybe – just maybe we don’t. What if life expires at 33? 53? 96? 25? Time is one thing we haven’t solved – how much of it is ours to spend.

How we perceive time decides whether we see ourselves as having a lot or a little. I could show you two people – each 32 years old, and one would tell you she’s too old to head on back to school; that time has robbed her of that choice. The other would say she’s going back to school because it’s the rest of her life in front of her and that’s a lot of life to live. How can they both see things so differently? Perception.

How we perceive Time (the big one with a capital, ‘T’) becomes our reality. We might figure – YOU might figure to be more accurate – that time is one thing you’ve got a lot of. Because you can’t know with any certainty how much you’ve got, why worry about it? Just enjoy things in the here and now. What’s so wrong with figuring it will all end in our 80’s or 90’s so there’s no rush to choose a career, save for the future, start a retirement savings plan or fix that relationship. As Mick and the boys sang, “Time is on my side.”

Hmm… imagine you’re in a gift store and you spot some hourglasses. The sand is yellow, green, blue, etc. and catches your eye. Each holds a finite amount of sand, and there’s a multitude to choose from; 1 minute, 3 minute, 10 minute timers. You choose one you like and whatever one you chose, you get no more or less than the contained amount. Life is like that – except we are given the timer without knowing how much sand we’ve got in our hourglass. When it runs out, it runs out. The only thing wrong with the analogy? You can flip the hourglass over again and again and it goes on and on. When your life timer runs down, there is no flip.

Imaging we have a lot of time left to live can be wonderful as we plan for the future. It can motivate us to get going and start working to achieve our long-term goals. However, think back to school where the teacher gave you some essay to write and you figured you had weeks to get it done. You put it off for precisely that reason didn’t you? Then as it dawned on you that the deadline was looming, you got down to work – you had to – and you pulled it off. Sometimes therefore, believing we have a lot of time left can hinder and not help us get going.

Whether you feel any urgency to get going on your goals is entirely your business. Put off getting started at your own choosing but realize time might rob you of that chance – or rather, you might rob yourself.

 

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The High Cost Of Indecision


So you have a big decision to make. You’ve been wrestling with it for some time, weighing out pros and cons of the choices before you. Somehow though, you just can’t bring yourself to make that choice. Two questions for you: why the delay and what’s it costing you to delay?

As to why you are stalling on deciding, you probably don’t want to make the wrong choice. Could be that in the past you made other big decisions with what you thought was sound reasoning and good judgement and those decisions didn’t turn out so well. The last thing you want to do is repeat making a poor choice and coming to regret it.

This is often the case when the choice before you is similar to one you regret from the past. Like deciding if you should commit the next two or three years to going to College/University and going into debt in the process. Years ago you borrowed money and started school but never finished the program because it didn’t turn out to be what you’d hoped it would. All you got was the debt and an incomplete education; one year of a 3 year program. The fear now is you’ll make another bad choice and add to your debt.

You might also be wrestling with taking a job – any job – versus waiting to find the right job. You figure that if you’re working in a job you don’t like just to make some money, you won’t have the time to properly look for that dream job, and you won’t be able to go to an interview if you’re working now will you? So you’re stuck.

This indecision isn’t confined to work or school either. Perhaps you’re indecisive about asking someone out, wondering if you should or shouldn’t pop the big question to the love of your life, or indecisive about whether you should tell everyone your big secret.

Whatever you are indecisive about, there’s a cost you’re paying now, and a cost you’re going to pay the longer you put off making a choice. The choice to choose is entirely yours to make or not of course (and that’s the real issue) but don’t pretend you’re not paying for your indecision.

What’s the cost? Anxiety, low self-esteem, self-doubt, dangerous thoughts about what’s wrong and the pressure, pressure, pressure! Deadline dates for enrolling in school might get missed, the love of your life might get tired of waiting on you to pop the question, that guy or girl you’re mad about might end up going out with somebody else; not because they like them any better, but because they actually got around to asking. As for employment, the job you dream about might appear and you never get an interview because of the present gap on your resume…and it’s only getting wider and becoming more of a problem.

Help!

Okay, here’s help. Suppose you have two options you’re trying to choose between. Let’s start with something with relatively less pressure; ice cream. Is it going to be Butterscotch Ripple or Raspberry Thunder? The problem is you like them both, and no you can’t get a scoop of each. Choose. Maybe for you this isn’t a big deal and you don’t see the relevance to your problem. Go with me on this. Choose. So you went with the Raspberry Thunder figuring you like it just as much as Butterscotch Ripple and after all, you figure you can always choose it the next time you want a cone. Decision made and you’re enjoying the ice cream instead of standing there in the heat salivating but being unable to decide.

The choice between two post secondary programs, or two universities is exactly the same just on a bigger scale. Don’t fret it. Choose. You would enjoy both programs and more importantly you’d be happy in the career possibilities a degree in either opens up. Great. You’ve got a choice between a winner and another winner, just like the ice cream.  Make the choice and the anxiety over having to decide is eliminated. Second guessing is not helpful. Commit to your choice. Oh and by the way, after you’ve graduated, you might decide to find work in the field or perhaps add to your education with the other choice – but let your future self wrestle with that one – you don’t have the information at present to know how you’ll feel in 3 years.

Now when you have to make a choice but don’t know what the choices are, (like trying to decide what to do with your life; what to be), it can seem harder. Really though, you just lack the information upon which to make a decision. You need to learn what kind of work is out there, what education and experience is needed, where the jobs are located, the hours, pros and cons etc. In short, you need to research to get the information you lack now to make a good choice.

Then again, when faced with a decision flip a coin. When it’s in the air, see if you don’t suddenly in that 2 seconds find yourself hoping it lands one way or the other. You’d be surprised how often the way you hope the coin lands is more important than how it actually turns out; you know instinctively what you want; just don’t look to see if it is heads or tails – you’ll only be confused.

 

Choices And Consequences


Not everybody wants the same things; nor do people who do want the same things want them to the same degree.

Take yesterday. So there I was on day 1 of a 7 day career exploration workshop. 7 days isn’t a long time to invest in looking at the various options and settling on one to pursue for the immediate future, but on the other hand, when you receive guidance and encouragement and go at it with some enthusiasm, you can indeed learn a lot about yourself. So yes, you could progress to the point where you move forward with confidence towards an employment goal. Even if there’s homework left to do researching a couple of options after the class has ended, this too is progress.

Now one of the things I made clear – and ALWAYS make clear on day 1 of any workshop I run, is that attendance is critically important. Missing time won’t get a person removed automatically; after all, previously scheduled appointments can’t always be shuffled around outside of the 7 days. I tell participants on day 1 that they have to be present to get the most out of the experience. While it’s true they would return from time away to find all the handouts on their desk, completing them on their own just isn’t the same as doing it in a facilitated discussion.

If a day is missed, not only would they have to catch up on the next by completing the self-assessments we covered in their absence, their voices would be missing in the discussions which occurred in their absence. So not only is the experience for the person lacking, so too is the experience of the entire group who loses out from the missed persons vocal input.

At one point in the day, one woman announced she had something to talk with me about after class. Odd to announce to an entire class I thought and not to come up at break or lunch and mention, but there it was. After class she told me she had a dilemma. As much as she wanted to be in class everyday and not miss anything, she also wanted to go with her daughter’s class on a school trip. She said she’d make up the work and asked my permission.

I told her the choice was hers to make – as I believe it always is – to be where she wanted/needed to be. I wouldn’t decide for her, or tell her what I would do in her place. Yes, I reminded her, she would get the handouts to complete, but she would not get the full value of the experience, including the discussion that accompanied each one; nor would she be able to contribute to those discussions to help others. Her choice.

I get that what most people want is for me to give them my blessings. I understand that single mothers such as her are highly motivated by their children; that they are their entire world. Because they live for their children, they hope that I’d see things exactly the same way and say, “Oh of course, that’s important so go have a good time and do so with my full support.” I didn’t say this though. I’m not hard or cruel either.

Life is all about choices and every choice comes with a consequence. Some of those consequences are minor and some are major. As we’re all different, and see things different, what one person might consider to be the right choice for them might not be the choice someone else would make given the same situation. Letting people make their own choices empowers them; making the choices for them or severely punishing them for making a choice we wouldn’t make does the opposite. So missing a day out of 7 comes with consequences,  but the decision is not mine to make for her.

There is however another consequence to her decision to which she is entirely unaware. This career exploration workshop isn’t the only one I run. There is one workshop which is an invitation-only, intensive job searching workshop. What participants in all my workshops don’t know is that I’m watching, listening, evaluating and re-evaluating each and every one of them throughout our entire time together. I’m watching for the words and actions that tell me people are either ready for that opportunity to be extended to them or not. In other words, although everyone might tell me they are ready to work and want to work, not everyone wants it to the same degree.

Having been told yesterday in the larger group that these 7 days were a rare opportunity to get to know themselves better and explore what kind of work would make the most of each persons talents, interests and bring them the most satisfaction, I’m looking at each person and gauging their commitment to that end. Who is putting in the time and effort, who is contributing and getting the most out of this experience which many working people would love to undertake if only they could; learning about themselves and what would make them most happy.

We shall see what she chooses, but my money goes with missing the day to attend the school trip. It’s not the wrong choice in many ways; but it is a choice just the same.

Make your choices with foresight and conviction and whatever you choose, consider the implications.