Time is the continued sequence of existence and events that occurs in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future.
I remember always feeling that I did not have enough time when I was a much younger person. If you have listened to the first three podcasts you will understand a little more why I felt this way. My history of battling with medical conditions and brain damage and my mother's death
I never quite understood or appreciated that not everyone felt the same way or had the same urgency about life.
If I was the busy ant, most people lived like the grasshoppers in the endless summer of their lives. There was never any need to prepare for tomorrow and there would always be time for everything they wanted to do.
Apparently in some cultures they use symbols or icons like a plastic or ceramic skull that denote a memento mori, meaning “remember death.” People often used to have something to remind them of death, so they’d make more of life.
It’s thought to come from a Roman tradition: when a victorious general was parading through town, a servant would walk behind him, whispering in his ear: “Look behind you! Remember that you are but a man! Remember that you will die!”
All kinds of artwork have been inspired by this idea over time (and some of them would make excellent tattoos).
The purpose of these memento moris was to remind you: every day, you’re closer to death. Don’t waste your time. Don’t waste your life.
I had a close friend and client. We had gone to school together. He had also done my personal development programs. He consistently put other people in his life first. His ex-wife, his children and his brother. He put himself last.
I finally told my friend that he needed to do significant emotional work about his relationships with people. That it would take one year. If he chose not to do this, it would have serious repercussions on his future. He told me that it sounded too painful to do that type of work.
Fast forward five years later. His brother defaulted on his bank loan. The banks foreclosed on the loan. Since my friend was the guarantor of the loan, they went after him. In one year’s time he would have achieved financial freedom for life. Instead one year from that he was declared bankrupt.
He then came in to do some emotional healing, too little, too late He got very stressed and a latent heart problem activated and became life threatening. He needed surgery to carry on. Fortunately he survived the surgery.
My father by contrast started off with no illness, but by dint of 30 years of smoking, drinking and overworking developed obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and cancer in that order. For twenty years I went on after him to change his ways and having worked as a pharmacist, his answer was that his symptoms were ‘perfectly” controlled by his drugs and his obesity was not a problem.
When I went after him about his weight for twenty years, he kept telling me that the drugs controlled his symptoms "perfectly". Only at 69 when he had just recovered the night before from a heart attack and he was terrified, he asked me what he could do and I said, "You have run out of time". He died three years later. He woke up to the peril too late.
We should be mindful of our choices. For instance, the assumption that sugary drinks offer any benefit or are harmless choices for ourselves and our children, is simply programming we got as a child — and there are several others, pertaining to food, that we received. This is true about
food; now think about the conditioning about the work ethic, being able to say “No”, etc., that we were also subjected to.
Then one day you wake up asking yourself “Where does this extra ten or twenty kilos come from?”, “Why am I finding it difficult to love my spouse?”, “Why am I living here or in this job?”, or “Why do I feel like something is missing?” or "Why am I having this heart attack?"
If you continued like you are doing now, would you feel fulfilled 5 years in the future? Or do you need a rapid reality check on where you are going in your life?
A few years ago before I formalized “The Life by Design” model, I was working on my schedule for the forth coming year. I thought I had a really good plan, but remembered that one year earlier I had the same thought but I had grossly over committed. So I looked at my plan again and broke it down into the number of hours and realized that I had under estimated how much time and resources I needed. I needed 500 more hours that year.
That was a major wake up call. I felt really desperate because so many things were riding on me. The current businesses, the future projects, my staff. I felt exhausted. I felt there had to be another way. It took 3 months to reconfigure everything. It took another 6 months to implement and change all the ways of thinking about managing time, energy and resources that I had been doing for the last forty years. Once I did, and I got everyone in my companies on board ,everything changed.
Suddenly I had time to exercise, go on movie dates with my wife once a month instead of twice a year. I could exercise nearly every day. Plus our companies became more profitable. That was the point at which I decided that I would be committed to never wasting time again doing unnecessary things.
Sometimes when I feel frustrated, I ask myself: am I frustrated because this is a waste of time?
If so, how can I stop wasting time on this? Because the time I just spent on it, and the time I spent feeling frustrated, is time I can never get back. That part of my life is gone forever.
This mental version of a memento mori sounds depressing, but it isn’t to me. It keeps me focused on what matters and reminds me that I have control: I choose how to spend my time.
I didn’t used to be like that. I used to be so obsess with getting things right that I would agonize over it and waste time. I spent three times as long on things as I needed to.
I spent a long time turning that around, but now I have it down. I blow through tasks in a couple hours that would have taken me all day 8 years ago.
This means I don’t waste time on procrastination, and I don’t get easily distracted. I never get “day gone by” syndrome, wondering what I did with my whole day.
I’m much more productive.
And greater productivity gets me closer to the deep things that matter in life to me: family, friends, meaningful work, and personal growth.
Because productivity isn’t really about “produce X number of widgets faster.”
It’s about your life, and spending it on what matters. It's about not running out of time.
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On this podcast I’m going to help you design a life that works. So you are able to say yes to the things that matter and eliminate everything else that slows you down. The more clear you can be about how to organize your daily life to support your bigger vision, the more you’ll step into your true potential, stay on track and accomplish all that you want and deserve. Are you ready to make that happen?
Feel free to reach out to me to ask your questions at AskDrSun.com. Your life is a gift. Design it. Do what matters and join me each week as we get closer to designing the life of your dreams. I am Dr Sun. Join me next week on Your Life by Design