Time Ownership: The Key to a Happier Life
Time is abstract, it cannot be seen nor be touched, yet it explains our existence and the flow of events. Moreover, it is a calculation or a measuring system of a progression of events from the past, present, and future. It helps us keep track of when things happened, is happening, or will happen. Seconds, minutes, and hours, days, weeks, and years, time continuously grows longer and runs forward. Along with the ticking time, living things like us humans, grow and age non-stop until we’ve reached our limits. “Limits”? Yes. All of us living and breathing are only given a period of time to be in this world. We are not immortal and therefore there is no such thing as having all the time or an eternity to enjoy our lives. From sundials to digital watches, we always find a way to know what time of day it is or how long time has passed because it makes us feel in control and only wants to make the most of our ticking time,
This is why we believe the saying, “Time is precious” because it is indeed valuable as it’s a limited resource. Once we waste it, we can’t get more of it. Think of renewable resources such as food and water. If we’re short on it, we can always get more. Food can be easily replaced; vegetables and livestock we can easily produce. Same as water, we can get it from wells or bodies of water. Our time on the other hand is continuously decreasing by the second and is only getting shorter- and the decisions we make will either make us live longer or bring it to a complete halt. Our basic needs are things we need to find to survive, yet time has always been by our side since its beginning.
As scary as it may sound, but we’re not getting any younger as they say. Thus, most of us, as soon as we get to be aware of the concept of time being constricted, we feel the pressure of trying to make the most out of it. We have thoughts like, “At this age, I should have accomplished a set number of goals so that I can be ahead of my life”, and this thinking could either be a good thing or a bad thing.
For one, when you set goals for yourself that you wish to accomplish at a certain age or time, you become competitive and motivated to pursue them. So you end up working really hard for them and increase your chances of succeeding.
On the other hand, when you allow yourself to get so hyper-focused and caught up in the idea that you should be accomplishing specific goals along with a specific age, you may end up pretty pressured and disappointed especially if you don’t get to succeed in doing so. Moreover, it will prompt you in becoming envious of others who have achieved their goals in what you believe is the “right age and time” for it.
If you are the latter who, again, believes that certain accomplishments are linked to a certain age, then you’re only giving yourself a lot of unnecessary burden and stress.
Are you always rushing to do things?
Are you filling your day with many to-dos?
Do you feel insecure about your current state and achievements?
If your answer is ‘yes’ to these questions, then you are restless and in dire need of a change in how you perceive and utilize time.
Own your time. Don’t be enslaved by it.
Yes. It’s good that you are just trying to make the most out of your limited time in this world and try your best not to waste anything, however, are you truly living on your own liberty and control or are you allowing time to dictate how you should live the way you do?
If you are the latter, then that’s what they call, “being a slave to the time”. But how do you know if you are indeed one? Here’s how to tell:
You’re concentrating on being ‘in a rush to do things’. Don’t let time be your boss.
You feel as if you’re on the edge whenever you have a task to fulfill. You put a nonexistent deadline in your head and even though it's a plus in a way that keeps you in check with your priorities, it may become detrimental to your productivity.
You’re focusing on the time it takes to do tasks, not the task itself.
Let’s face it- we’re not the fast video game character Sonic who can reach the end of the level through sheer speed alone. Don’t focus on how fast you can get through a task, focus on how you can properly get through it. The quality of work is way more important than how quickly you can accomplish it.
You do not feel ‘in the moment’ or present in your surroundings. You always think about the future based on what you could be doing but not what you are currently handling.
Scheduling plans is important, but also relieving yourself from the shackles of constant work is beneficial to your entire wellbeing. It keeps you grounded and in-tune with what's important in your personal life over your work life.
Your every day is completely mapped out, you do a lot- and yet you are not happy.
If you are someone who is a slave to time, then you value the concept that ‘time is precious’ on a really serious level. You perceive productivity in a way that is crucial to how you spend your numbered days. Having a fruitful day is definitely not a bad thing as you have accomplished tasks that needed to be done. You try to do as much as you can, fill your day with activities, and strictly follow your schedule. However, When things get jumbled up with your day’s schedule, you end up feeling frustrated and tend to shoulder a number of negative emotions.
For example, perhaps you woke up late and you lost a period of time allotted for a certain scheduled activity and this bothers you the whole day, then surely, you are indeed very serious with time. This may even go further to the extent that it stops you from having or repressing positive emotions just because something didn’t go your way.
Although life is indeed short and therefore we should make the most of every second, it does not mean that we should live so scripted or programmed in order to say that you are indeed valuing your time.
But, how do you really value your time?
The answer to this depends on the person. A busy person may judge a lax person (and vice-versa) for the way each one uses his time differently. That’s because we all have different mindsets and feelings. The answer is not a one-size-fits-all that anyone can grab and wear as their own. It’s a custom set of actions that each individual does attach with a meaning tailored to their own way of life.
Someone could feel like they value time when they’re kept busy or productive, and another one may feel like he’s valuing time by just relaxing and doing absolutely nothing ---probably, one common denominator that we could all agree on is that the real basis of knowing whether the time we used has been valued, is when we benefited from it. It could be gaining something like new learning, or just having positive emotions from what you did in that specific period of time.
Does working for eight straight hours chock-full of deadlines make you feel fulfilled? Does laying still on a hammock, swinging in between the wind’s breath as you bathe in the sunlight make you feel happy? Remember, time should be used sparingly. Thus, as much as you can, do what makes you happy and fulfilled- this is how you value time.
The Hares and Tortoises
You may have heard this story over a thousand times, but the tale of ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’ rings true to those who see themselves in the characters. Do you see yourself as the Hare, who gets a head start in the race but halfway remains complacent and unfortunately loses his place in the end? Or are you the Tortoise, the one who takes their time yet remains steadfast in achieving their goal and eventually gets the first place?
In the game of life, however, everything is not a one-sided thing. It’s not just black and white, the winner and the loser, and it’s definitely not just a single gray area in the middle. It's a myriad of values and saturations one is a part of and we are merely but one pixel of it.
Like a hare, you have the confidence to go full throttle towards your goals thinking that no one will get in your way in fulfilling it. You’re equipped with the mindset, skills, and fortitude as you rush towards the finish line. There is nothing wrong with that, of course. There’s a possibility, however, that you become too complacent, too comfortable to the point that you think you’re so ahead of the game compared to others that you’re indifferent to the consequences your actions may bear to yourself and to others. Another outcome could be that you’ll experience burnout- you become exhausted emotionally, physically, and mentally with all the effort you exert that somewhere along the way, you may have lost the reason why you decided to run in the first place.
On the other hand, being a tortoise carries the same pros and cons. You follow through with a set of plans that will lead you to your goal. It may take a number of months or even years to fulfill that, but you’re absolutely positive it will bear fruit. Eventually, however, it will come to a point in your life where you’ll question whether the path you're taking is the right one. You may get lucky and for whatever reason, you suddenly rise to the top, but it’s a one in a million chance of it ever happening. Maybe you need to change up your choices and take a leap of faith into unknown territory. This opportunity, albeit unfamiliar, will help you learn new skills and talents that will bring you to your advantage and jumpstart your career even further.
So you may think to yourself, “Am I a tortoise or a hare?” Remember what was said earlier- there are more in the gray area that meets the eye. You may be a night owl who utilizes their time best as they are most productive during the night (as long as they keep to a healthy sleep schedule), using the day as a time for rest. Or are you the keen snake who adheres to calculating each move, taking a step back to see the bigger picture before striking their target?
Regardless, it’s still your choice to make on how to approach each course life has to offer.
The time you have in your possession is indefinite. It’s a limited resource we all desperately strive to have more of because we have limitless dreams and aspirations we want to fulfill in our lifetime. It's not far-fetched to say that time is the number one aspect that is most important to use as it provides opportunities for accomplishment. Waking up groggy but need to get out of bed early to reach work on time? We ask for five more minutes of shut-eye. Missed the bus and have to wait long for the next one? We wish the bus stayed for a long time so we could reach it. Parting with a loved one? We wish we had more time to spend with them.
You see, we ask so much of time, but it's a concept we ourselves have made so that we can have a grasp of what it means to us. Having divided it into seconds, minutes, and hours in a day helps us prioritize what we want to accomplish in between. It gives us a sense of awareness of where we are in a situation. There will be moments where we’re having the time of our lives and we feel as if it flew in a heartbeat. You may be sitting in a lecture where it feels like hours have gone by but in actuality, five minutes just passed.
The concept of time keeps us grounded. It helps us make realistic decisions about what we want to achieve. You get to choose how you utilize your time but don't let it entirely determine how you live. Do not pattern and calculate you're every single move thinking that you’re running out of time. Yes, it's definite, but do not hyperfocus to the point it becomes detrimental to you in hindering what you really want to attain in life. Keep your priorities in check and the pressure of time becomes hindsight.
How you use your time is important because it affects YOU the most. It's your conscious string of actions that determine how you live your life and nobody else. Time serves as a guardian and keeps you in check with reality. If you are able to own your time, you win in life.
I hope you enjoyed this article and I would love to know your thoughts.