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Making Peace with Lost Time


“You can't make up for lost time. You can only do better in the future."

-- Ashley Ormon

"One of the consequences of living in a way that allows false urgencies to drive our decisions is that we hyperfocus on the present without looking up to consider a future created by our present-day choices." If you stop and consider your choices today, how will they impact your future? Or the future of your business? Or the future of your family?

Every choice you make has consequences, for good or for bad. Considering those consequences and whether or not you want to pay the price of your choices means you need to be intentional about your choices through planning and reflection.

It also means recognizing and understanding the value of your time. "Your time is a finite resource. Once it's gone, you cannot reclaim it."

Make Peace with Lost Time

What time would you like to get back if you could? Time you didn't spend with a loved one who is now gone? Time you gave to a toxic relationship or job? Time you spent making excuses for not pursuing your dreams?

It's necessary to recognize what it means to lose time because this helps you learn to value the time you've been given and make better choices in the future. However, it can be tempting to allow that lost time to hold you back by beating yourself up, wallowing in regret, or giving in to anger or bitterness over your loss. "But none of those choices will change your reality or improve your future. In fact, those choice simply cause you to stack up more lost time by using your time in a way that keeps you stuck rather than moving forward."

To make peace with your lost time, you need to offer yourself:

  • Forgiveness - Give yourself grace to be human and make mistakes.

  • Self-compassion - Be gentle with yourself and acknowledge your struggle.

  • Gratitude - Be thankful that you can learn from your mistakes and do things differently in the future.

"You cannot predict the future, but you can create it. " -- Peter Drucker

Managing the Present

"At the core of most lost-time decisions is the choice to put off the hard work of planning, getting clarity, and counting the costs. It is precisely when you don't have time to lose that you are most likely to make decisions that will ultimately lead to lost time. The busier you are, the more likely you are to put off the deep thinking you need to do."

Furthermore, there are key habits of our fast-paced culture that make it that much easier to lose our time:

  • Changing gears - you can only give attention to so many things at once before your thinking and decision-making deteriorate. This habit encompasses multi-tasking, trying to pack more into an hour than you can reasonably accomplish, and not allotting time between tasks or meetings to take a breath, eat a healthy meal, use the bathroom, or transition your thinking and focus.

  • Goal and decision fatigue - your mental resources are limited, you only have so much energy, and it gets used up as you give away your attention. So when you go to the grocery store after a grueling day at work, you're more likely to buy out the snack food aisle and forget to pick up what you wanted to make for dinner.

  • Paradox of choice - there is an abundance of choices before you, an infinite amount in most cases, but staring down all those options can be debilitating, exhausting, and anxiety-producing. The ideal is to limit your choices by clarifying what will make the choice meaningful so you don't get overwhelmed.

Looking to the Future

Picture your future self. Where do you live? What career do you have? Who do you spend your time with? How do you use your resources (money, time, knowledge, etc.)?

"Choosing the meaningful is an intentional act. It is not haphazard." It takes a vision of the future you want to create; acknowledging the life you want to have helps you to plan with your future self in mind. Looking back ten years from now, what will you wish you had done differently? Don't wait for the regret; make the hard choice and do it differently now.

This week, consider the following questions:

  • Where are you "losing time" with activities or choices that are not meaningful?

  • What would be a more meaningful choice in this season of your life?

  • Are you willing to make that new choice, and when will you do it?

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