I invite you to take this path with me, sharing my experience to open your eyes to the insidious nature of our problem over time. It is a problem that evolved as we went from living accompanied by the cycles of nature to being carried away by the unsustainable rhythm imposed by the age of technology.
Stress and despair are only symptoms, what should frighten us is the prospect of living a life in which time is spent on things that seem important, and that only by looking back do they show themselves empty for what they are. Only by looking back can we understand that we have overlooked what was really important.
Live timelessly “timeless”
Our lives are full. Work, travel, family, debts that push us to earn as much money as possible. Living without breath is now the norm for a large section of the population, a threat to our well-being and happiness.
This book was born while I was in Phoenix, stuck for 10 hours on a trip to which I should have said no. I was talking to my friend Yvette and thinking about having always been on the piece, all my life. Graduated at 21, I created my personal business at 24, I wrote my first book at 26.
One that burns the goals, this is my identity. “And what did you get? – Yvette asked me – stress, isn’t it? Maybe your plane delay is a message. God called your attention to the fact that you’re always in a hurry. ” At that moment my husband Jess called me on the phone and said: “I am sitting here and I am meditating. Do you know when we talk about having a margin to breathe? I think I have no margins for the next 10 years. We must do something”.
A few weeks and a few experiments later, we established our common goal: to have more time for ourselves and our children, decrease stress, devote more time to the pleasant things in life.
The journey began simply by talking about how we felt and how we wanted to feel instead.
As a coach, I know the technique of powerful questions , so I asked myself: “What would it be like to work on alternate days? What would happen if I didn’t work every day? Would I damage my goals and my job? ”.
I decided to try for 30 days, since without a real experiment I could have no idea of the answer I could give to these questions. The result was so good that I decided to go ahead and plan my activity according to this criterion for a year.
How was it possible to achieve this goal? Simple: I was more productive, using less time. I was forced to choose what to do, so I became more selective and worked to correctly define priorities.
Try to make your own daily, weekly and monthly table: put in black and white how many hours you spend:
- at work;
- moving to go to work;
- taxiing children and other family members;
- cleaning the house;
- in the gym;
- watching TV;
- meeting friends;
- in the company of your partner.
Try to be precise and objective, don’t judge yourself. Simply prepare your numbers and look at them. You can draw conclusions from yourself.
The new normal is not normal
There are decisions that we continually make in our everyday life that do not allow us to have a second chance. On the morning when her father was to be operated on to the heart, Marie passed by the office for an important meeting scheduled for 8, and arrived at 9:30 perfectly on time, as the intervention had been scheduled.
But his father had suddenly gotten worse at night and they had taken him to the operating room early, so he died before she could say goodbye.
Whenever we intentionally choose the least important thing, we put what really matters at risk. And every time we choose what really has meaning, we take our time and we can live without regrets.
Being meaningful means being relevant, important, useful. Doing meaningful things means giving value to our time. We must recognize the preciousness of the time that has been given to us. So how come we use so much of this gift for things or people who don’t deserve it?
We need to set our priorities by deciding what’s important now, and we’ll find that the things that really matter are the important ones today like tomorrow or next year.
Herein lies the difference between urgent and meaningful.
Living under pressure, a threat to the little ones
For today’s kids, living summers like the ones I was able to experience is just a dream. I spent them with my grandparents in their home, listening to stories, playing outdoors, helping them to run small errands and learning wisdom from them.
The single parent families, the technology, the work of both spouses, but also their desire to create opportunities for their children to learn during the holidays have created an industry in America – that of the summer camps – of 18 billion dollars.
Generation X will be the first in American history to be poorer than its parents, and the picture appears even darker for Millennials. Entering college became more difficult: in Stanford in 1997 the success rate for candidates was 15.5% and Harvard 12.3%. In 2017 it was 5.2% in Stanford and 4.7% in Harvard. This leads the kids to be engaged in a thousand collateral activities to the school, in an attempt to win the entrance ticket to those universities.
Only 10% of American kids spend time outdoors daily. Almost everyone spends their free time indoors and during the summer most of it is spent in solitude, also because of what is called screen time , “screen time”, ie spent in front of television, computer monitors, phones.
Urgencies and false emergencies
How many times do you receive a notification or a notice for a breaking news , stop what you are doing and discover that it is not really a last minute, but something you knew perfectly well?
In the eighties the breaking news was for real, it was a public service, a sort of sudden, important, warning to everyone, for example because a tornado was coming to town.
In the 1990s things started to change and networks in their competition to get attention turned breaking news into a means of keeping us from changing channels.
There are many other false urgencies in your life, you just have to pay attention to it:
- look at the cell phone during dinner
- to multitask instead of paying attention to the things you’re doing
- give up a good night’s sleep because you think you don’t have time
- make decisions based on what is happening today, without thinking about the possible consequences of the decision on tomorrow
What we have to do is stop and ask ourselves: what is the really meaningful thing I can do right now?
According to Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan, there are two new types of poverty that are emerging: the first is poverty of time, that is, the continuing need to “borrow” time from our future, to manage ever more pressing deadlines . Just as if we were taking money from the bank, we “borrow” time to our own life, which unfortunately becomes impossible to recover.
The other new misery is bandwidth poverty, which defines a lack of attention due to the constant use of our cognitive resources. In other words, when we have too much to do, our mental energy thins to the point that it can affect the decisions we make.
We get into poverty of time by continuing to say yes to things we don’t have time to do, and into gang poverty when we do a lot of them at the same time.
Let’s try to think of the debt of time as if it were a debt of money, it will help us in the task of improving our situation and restraining ourselves in “borrowing” too much from our personal life.