It’s a quote from New York Times bestselling author K Bromberg, but you’ve probably seen it before on a t-shirt, or as a poster hung on a wall in some trendy coffee bar. That doesn’t mean it is a quote that you should dismiss though, as it gets to the very heart of what it means to be alive.
To be alive is to witness the passage of time. Its what defines our existence, as we collect life experiences, year by year, month by month, day by day, hour by our and minute by minute. It is one of the few resources we have that once used is gone forever, so what we do with it really does matter, but what matters to me or to you may not matter to others.
‘Wasting time’ is something always in the eye of the beholder, for instance I love spending some relaxing hours listening to music. Others may see that as wasting time, as it is not productive. But if music takes me away from daily stress and allows me to gain clarity in my thoughts, then is it ‘non-productive’ at all? If it helps me focus when I need to, then it’s a valuable experience, and time well used, whether considered wasted or not.
That is really the thing to consider with time, its not about being productive every second of every day, life has to be a balance, including the things that bring you joy. Ultimately, life is about using your precious time to do the things that enrich your life. Of course, that means a mix of professional and personal things, from spending time with loved ones to advancing your career, if they enrich your life, then time spent on these things is never wasted. But one way you can ‘waste’ time is second guessing what you have already done. That can be an easy trap to fall into, looking back and thinking how you can have done something different.
It could be a conversation, a choice you made, a mistake, whatever it was, spending time worrying about the past really is a waste, because it achieves nothing. It doesn’t make you happy, the opposite in fact, it cannot achieve anything because you can’t go back in time to change it, and worst of all, it focuses your mind on negativity, and that is never healthy. That is the biggest lesson to learn from time. What is in the past should stay there. No one goes through life perfectly, saying the right things at the right time, every time. We all make mistakes and poor choices. But people who really embrace life, who love living, put that kind of thing behind them. They understand there is nothing you can do about the past. What you can do is impact on the now and shape your own future.
By spending time on those things that enrich your life, from a rewarding career to the people and things you love, that is creating the environment you want today, and helping maintain that positive and supportive space for your future too. This is how to use time wisely, and whether onlookers see what you do as waste or not, for you it is time well spent if it gives you the present and future you want.
Will you still make mistakes? Yes, we all do. But what you should never do is let those mistakes control your reality now. It is your time, and you can’t save it for later, so make sure you do something you love with every second of it.