This is an email I just sent to my sister, Kimberly. I thought some of you might enjoy it as well. (Note: I may or may not have been inspired by this xkcd comic).
I have been doing some thinking about life, and time, and the things I want to accomplish, and the way I want to live my life. I came up with a new mantra for myself that I think will be helpful for you. This is how I communicated it to Brad:
Every second is contributing to the sum total of seconds of your life. I want to be able to go through that list of seconds, were it to exist, pick one, and feel good about whatever I was doing during that second. In taking inventory of what that would mean, I made a small list of the things I’d like to spend my seconds on. Holding hands with you is pretty high up on that list, but also playing music, listening to music, dancing, biking, rowing, singing. Creating. Learning. Sleeping. These all count. Consuming information? Reading Twitter? Not so much. Sometimes it’s important to read and consume, but I want it to be in the context of creation. Of dreaming and teaching. Every second.
I think it might be a good exercise to constantly remind yourself of this, that your life is a conglomeration of seconds and what you do in each second is contributing to that sum total. What is the purpose of the activity you’re currently undertaking? Does it fulfill you? Is it helping you get where you need to go? Is it something you can’t avoid? Are you engaged and focused, or is your brain elsewhere? If so, where is it?
Thinking about your daily activities as contributing to the grand painting of your life may help to make some decisions and focus on the things that are important. For me, one of my challenges is talking about things and never actually doing them. So it is important for me to notice when I’m talking about something and when I’m actually doing it. I want to make sure I’m doing things more than talking about them. That I’m producing more than I’m consuming. Organizing my space, writing lists, getting ready… this is all distraction from the goal. Create. Produce. Make. That’s how I grow. How do you grow? What feeds you? When are you in the flow?
Take some time to answer these questions for yourself. I bet you’ll be surprised and inspired by what you come up with.