As hard as it might sound at first, we also need to start to cut out activities and be selective again. Over the last few years, it has almost become a pastime to collect (and share) as many special experiences as possible. Terms like oversharing have just entered our vocabulary and are an indication for the extrovert lifestyle many of us are living. Often it seems as we do more for our public image than for ourselves. Not difficult to understand, considering that affiliation and belonging are amongst the deepest human needs.
It’s hard to decide, but if we try to be reasonably involved in everything we get pulled in too many directions. We risk to burnout or end up in deep frustration and despair. Because we will never be able to find the energy it needs to be truly engaged. Let’s take an example from the plant world. Many plants need to be regularly trimmed in order to prosper. It’s better to cut some branches in order to funnel the plant’s energy. Some plants, like for example roses, would even exhaust themselves if they would grow without restriction.
However, to be able to cut branches, we need to be brave and take decisions. In all aspects of live, remember that any decision is better than no decision.
For a better understanding of the different things we spend our time with, it’s helpful to get a proper overview first. You can do this by creating a list of bullets or take a more visual approach. In his book ‘finding your element’, Ken Robinson advises to take a large paper and write down the typical things we do throughout a week. For this matter, I would extend this to the little things, because it is often the those things that can be very time consuming or, on the other hand, matter quite a lot for us. List all things from your private and professional life, things like sports, reading to your children, spending time in traffic, scheduling, being in meetings, being on the phone and so on. The next step is to draw circles around it, varying in size, according to the time they claim. This first step of visualizing helps you to get a better overview or your activities. You can now observe this throughout a longer period to see if the pattern is flexible or rigid and also to see if your estimations were correct.
And this is the secret. Only by visualizing, hence by making spent time tangible, we can move from perception to reality.
Only by being more conscious about the time we take for certain elements in our life, we can slowly learn to adjust according to the significance we want to attribute. We are the only ones who are responsible for our lives and nobody else can tell us what we really need.
Lastly, our goal should be to be satisfied with what we have instead of always long for more. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a rather new term for a phenomenon that finds its place in a range of phenomena that came with the rise of modern technology and social media.
It is coming down to the fear of being left behind, or worse, being left out. This fear is an existential one, as in prehistoric times, it would have meant that we would starve in the cold because our tribe had moved on without us.
In the meantime, it also helps to understand that we don’t need our tribe for hunting and gathering any more and that we are not depending on other people for all means. And I personally also find it very pleasing to see more and more people who navigate through live in their own specific ways.
After all, there can even be a joy of missing out. If you learn to change your mindset, you can see that there’s more time for the things that are valuable and maybe even appreciate that less is more.
At the end of day, time is a subjective matter.
Einstein said, time is an illusion. I say time is a perception – so it’s you who can control it and use it for your own advantage.
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