Your life is but a fleeting moment in time. If there are any doubts in your mind, take a Sunday drive through your local cemetery to observe people who thought the world couldn’t get along without them. An inscription on the floor within a Crypt of the Capuchin Monks, next to a pile of bones, is insightful when it states, “What you are, they once were. What they are, you will be.”
People really only need to focus on three days for their entire lives: yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Yesterday comprises all the days that have gone before today and cannot be changed. Today is the only day you really have to be present in. Therefore, Today is always a fresh start since you are experiencing the present moment for the very first time in your life. Tomorrow is a potential day in your future which comes after today but is not guaranteed.
Although each of us have ONLY 86,400 seconds each day (60 seconds in a minute x 60 minutes in an hour x 24 hours in a day = 86,400 seconds), how we use those seconds causes there to be over 7 billion personal stories and diverse mental worlds on our one planet.
The best way to think about time is your Life Exchange Rate, or what you are spending your time to accomplish – whether you are using your time working for money, sleeping, watching TV, attending family events, seeing the world, etc. Work/Life Balance is only a subset of your Life Exchange Rate. Other people, like Mother Teresa or Nelson Mandela, used their Life Exchange Rate to live for principles that they believed in. Other people, like martyrs, dedicate their Life Exchange Rate for a greater good or higher life purpose. Depending on your spiritual beliefs about an afterlife, whether that be heaven, re-incarnation, or some other viewpoint about your spirit continuing on its journey, you may want to consider your Eternal Exchange Rate as well if that is important to your soul.
So why is time so precious? First, you only have this very moment to create the life you want since there are no guarantees of a tomorrow (for example, you can die unexpectedly, you can become brain dead, or you can enter into a coma of which you will never recover from, etc). Second, unlike other assets that you may currently possess, like a car, home, money, etc., once you spend your time, it can never be replaced. As an analogy, imagine you have a personal bank account where ONLY $86,400 dollars will be placed into it every day but the money disappears, whether you spend it wisely or not, at the next stroke of midnight. You are not allowed to save one penny extra for tomorrow! This is repeated each day of your life until no more deposits are made (which means that you are dead).
If you doubt how short your life really is in history, simply buy enough marbles to place in a bowl to represent all the remaining weekends you may have left according to standard life expectancy tables. Every weekend, throw a marble away. This will keep you focused on three things: 1) How much remaining Life Exchange Rate you will be giving up if you do not take care of your health, 2) The need to make every weekend count; and 3) The drive to fulfill your life purpose or your bucket list quickly since you ONLY have a short period of time.
In Ecclesiastes 3, King James Version (KJV), the bible clearly states that there are different times in everyone’s life, from linear time to cyclical time to personal time, etc.:
3 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Rick Warren says in his book, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here for,
“Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time.
It is not enough to just say relationships are important; we must prove it by investing time in them. Words alone are worthless. “My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.” Relationships take time and effort, and the best way to spell love is “T-I-M-E.”
So if everyone has only 24 hours of time in a day, then why do some people seem to achieve so much more with their time than others? The greatest secret regarding time has always been the concept of leveraged time.
By using other people, processes, technology, and money, it is possible to get multiple tasks done simultaneously, or much quicker, in the same 24 hour day. For example, if your only day to clean the house, go shopping, do laundry, cut the grass, etc. is on Saturday, I would venture to say that by the end of your Saturday you will be exhausted. In fact, you probably will have accomplished little more than those specific tasks during that day. Now let’s imagine that you have enough money to pay for other people to do all these tasks for you on Saturday. This really means that you have decided to use other people, processes, technology, and money to complete your Saturday tasks. This would free up your time on Saturday to go to the gym in the early morning, play a few rounds of golf before lunch, spend the afternoon at the spa, and maybe even have a private dinner party, cooked by your personal chef of course, for your closest friends that evening. It is easy to see how by leveraging time, you are actually inventing extra time to do all the things that you love to do PLUS get the required tasks done for that day. As a result, you will have freed up your own time and accomplished multiple goals at different geographical locations at the same time.
So here are your tasks for using your time wisely…
1) Imagine your perfect day and lay it out on a calendar. Do the same for your perfect week, and for your perfect month. However, when it comes to your months, lay them out within each of the four seasons. Have fun with this portion of the task and let your imagination flow freely.
2) Time to get back to reality. Compare your ideal calendar with your current calendar. What are the time gaps between the two? Is there a way to use other people, processes, technology, and money to leverage your time to close these gaps between your ideal calendar and your current calendar.
3) For mundane, every day tasks, such as driving to work, your grooming routines, etc., look for ways to leverage your time so that you can become the person you truly want to be. For example, for the next three months, listen to inspirational or knowledge based CDs or bestselling books online that will empower your life while you are doing these mundane tasks. Make it an ongoing habit and your life will transform beyond your wildest dreams.
Now in paperback, this breakthrough book on the new psychological science of time by one of the most influential living psychologists—the New York Times bestselling author of The Lucifer Effect—and his research partner launched on the front page of USA TODAY “Lifestyle” with a Time Survey and on CBS Morning Show.
This is the first paradox of time: Your attitudes toward time have a profound impact on your life and world, yet you seldom recognize it. Our goal is to help you reclaim yesterday, enjoy today, and master tomorrow with new ways of seeing and working with your past, present, and future.
Just as Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences permanently altered our understanding of intelligence and Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink gave us an appreciation for the adaptive unconscious, Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd’s new book changes the way we think about and experience time. It will give you new insights into how family conflicts can be resolved by ways to enhance your sexuality and sensuality, and mindsets for becoming more successful in business and happier in your life. Based on the latest psychological research, The Time Paradox is both a “big think” guide for living in the twenty-first century and one of those rare self-help books that really does have the power to improve lives.