To achieve great things, two things are needed

“To achieve great things, two things are needed: A plan, and not quite enough time.”

Leonard Bernstein, 20th century American conductor, composer, and author

Image from Unsplash by Alvaro Reyes

What significant tasks or projects have you always wanted to tackle?

How often do you use the lack of time as the reason for putting them off?

How often do you see an empty calendar when all the stars align for you to begin?

When such rare days appear, how frequently are you diverted into some other far more pleasant venture?

What would happen if we simply used the small blocks of time we do have to first plan our efforts and then nibble away at our elephants, one bite at a time?

EXERCISE:

Schedule 5 to 15 minutes today to create a plan for a small or modest size project.

Allocate 5 to 15 minutes each day this week to execute the items in your plan. Take note of the momentum created by just being in action.

Using this approach, what will it take to create something great?

Leave some wiggle room in your days to help navigate life’s unexpected events

Leave some wiggle room in your days to help navigate life’s unexpected events.

—Calm App Reflection

Image from Unsplash by Eric Rothermel

When was the last time you had a doctor’s appointment that occurred on time? It’s common to be told to arrive early for most visits and even more common to be welcomed into your appointed time late.

In the past few months our need for doctor visits increased and with the help of some very understanding medical staff we found some wiggle room in their back-to-back appointment world.

One doctor’s office even went on to tell us that they intentionally block off some extra time each day for such events to accommodate the expected unexpected needs of their patients.

EXERCISE:

Where and how could your life benefit if you added some extra wiggle room in your days?

How might this buffer time reduce stress and have others around you feel more at ease?

“Embrace time instead of racing it.”

“Embrace time instead of racing it.”

Seth Godin, American author and entrepreneur

Image from Unsplash by Balazc Busznyak

This year we broke our “snow bird” season into two trips.

Since we like to bring many of our creature comforts along for our extended stays, we take our SUV, which recently reached its 100,000-mile mark.

Our first trip involved over 1,100 challenging miles of exhaust-laden construction, and the ever-ambitious lead-footed drivers always looking to shave a minute or two off their journeys.

On our second trip we chose to take the auto train from Lorton VA to Sanford FL, which saved us around 17 hours behind the wheel.

With an average speed of just over 50 miles per hour, Wendy and I embraced our time together, and even got some shut-eye as we chugged our way south.

EXERCISE:

Where and how often do you find yourself racing the clock?

How would slowing down a bit and embracing more moments lead to a more fulfilling and happier life?

In this short life that only lasts an hour

“In this short life that only lasts an hour, how much-how-little is within our power?”

Emily Dickenson, 19th Century American Poet

Image from The Kids Should See This Blog

I often read the blog The Kids Should See This in hopes of finding fascinating items to share with my daughter and our two grandchildren. A few weeks ago, I watched a video to help visualize man’s role on earth compared to the age of the universe. Here are some things I learned:

  • Our universe is estimated to be about 13.8 billion years old.
  • Our solar system is estimated to be about 4.5 billion years old.
  • The earliest forms of life on Earth appeared 3.7 billion years ago.
  • 550,000 to 750,000 years ago was the beginning of homo sapiens lineage.
  • 100,000 to 210,000 years ago we see fossils of homo sapiens living outside of Africa.
  • 15,000 to 40,000 years ago genetics and fossils show homo sapiens became the only surviving human species.

EXERCISE:

Do a bit of math to calculate the time each generation—including our own—has to spend on our beautiful blue world. How will you use your power to make sure many more future generations can continue doing this exercise?

Check out this to scale/time video that visualizes 13.8 billion years—It’s definitely worth 10 minutes of your time!

The past is a place of reference, not a residence

“The past is a place of reference, not a residence. The past is a place of learning, not a place of living.”

—Roy T. Bennett, Late Author of The Light in the Heart

Image from Unsplash by Shantung Kulkarni

Our minds are marvelous. In a split second we can use our imagination to go anywhere and do anything.

By working at the speed of light and beyond, we can use mental worm holes and folds in spacetime to explore our limitless inner and outer worlds.

Another handy trick is our ability to go back in time or into the future whenever we wish.

Although daydreaming about the future and how our life may unfold is common, trips down memory lane seem to be even more prominent, since these roads have already been traveled.

Unfortunately, all this mental leaping can have us miss the very moments that make up these memories we hope to reflect upon down the road.

EXERCISE:

How much of your life do you spend residing in the past?

What lessons have you learned to make sure you prioritize opening the gifts of the present?

As soon as I have a deadline, I work much better

“As soon as I have a deadline, I work much better. Time unbounded is hard to handle.”

May Sarton, pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton, 20th century novelist, poet, memoirist

Image from Unsplash by Markus Winkler

To what degree do you experience deadlines in your personal and professional lives?

How do time constraints impact your engagement and performance?

Where do they help you step up your game, or act as negative stressors that crush your spirit?

EXERCISE:

How does having unbounded time impact your life?

Where is the sweet spot between eustress and distress as it relates to setting deadlines for yourself?

 

You’re spending time to save money when you should be spending money to save time

“You’re spending time to save money when you should be spending money to save time.”

Naval Ravikant, Indian-American entrepreneur and investor

Image from Unsplash by Daniel Watson

When I was eleven, I started my first business.

My dad loaned me $75 to buy a Sears Craftsman lawn mower, and I got busy knocking on all the neighborhood doors.

Prior to my gas-powered efforts, I used one of those rotary mowers that would always get clogged with grass if it was too long or wet. After one multi-hour effort on a neighbor’s neglected lawn with only three dollars to show for it, my rotary mower was history.

Where in your life have you and do you trade your time for money?

Where over the years have your learned to use your money to more efficiently and effectively allocate your time?

EXERCISE:

Where and in what ways have you learned that time is the coin of life? In what ways can you spend and invest it more wisely? How can you use your money and other resources to get far more bang for your bucks?

If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down

“If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down.”

Robert Pirsig, late American writer and philosopher

Image from Unsplash by Milan Fakurian

What is the current pace of your life?

To what degree are you running the rat race or crawling along at a snail’s pace?

Perhaps the tempo of your world is just right — you’ve found your groove and there is not much more to do other than put things on cruise control.

If you are on an entrance or exit ramp of life you know when it’s time to hit the gas or pump the brakes.

EXERCISE:

Where are you restless and need to speed things up?

Where are you out of breath and need to slow things down?

What is the optimal speed for you at this point in your life?

When is it time to let go or give up so that you can begin something new

When is it time to let go or give up so that you can begin something new?

—Calm App Reflection

Image from Amazon

Where do you currently feel stalled or stuck in your life? How are you wrestling with the sunk cost of time, effort, and resources where your pivoting is just not paying off? How can you tell when it’s time to quit and when to stick things out?

An approach that has served me over the years is the HHG method. This acronym stands for Head, Heart, and Gut.

In most cases, when I evaluate my endeavors through these three filters, I can move on or stay the course with greater confidence.

EXERCISE:

Try the HHG method for yourself and let me know what you discover. I also recommend Seth Godin’s classic book “The Dip” as a resource to explore in times of potential transition.