The question is thought provoking.
Have you ever considered the time investment in some of the world’s greatest achievements? I’m serious. Have you ever stopped to realize:
• It took 26 months to build the Eiffel Tower.
• It took Da Vinci four years to paint the Mona Lisa.
• It took Michelangelo four years to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
• It took Leo Tolstoy over six years to write War and Peace.
• It took about 30 years to build the Great Pyramid.
• It took over 40 years before Beethoven’s Fur Elise was performed.
• It took Noah 100 years to build the Ark.
And you and I get impatient if the microwave popcorn takes too long!
Joking aside, I am truly impressed by the above list because it succinctly reminds us of what can be accomplished when a person invests his or her time wisely. And time is one commodity each of us gets in equal measure.
We all get 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week and 52 weeks in a year. Yet so many of us don’t, or refuse to, invest time wisely. We spend many of the hours we are given each day on things that bring no return.
Several months ago, the website Digital Trends, reported that Americans now spend an average of 4.7 hours a day looking at social media on their phones.
Did you grasp what I just said? Read it again because it’s an amazing statistic.
Nearly five hours a day. Starring down stupidly at the phone (my personal opinion) to see what other people are doing with their time. It’s insane! Again, that’s my personal opinion.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not against social media or smart phones or anything like that. But I am in favor of each of us investing our time wisely.
In short, we have become a culture that does not appreciate time anymore. We have come to expect things quickly. We’re used to instant results and fast feedback. Our default setting is impatience. And while some things are fine when done quickly, others suffer when we skimp on time.
Allow me to share some examples out of life…
RELATIONSHIPS – People require time – your spouse, your children, your co-workers, your friends. If you want to have healthy relationships with the people around you, you have to invest time with those people.
HEALTH – Trust me, once you get past a certain age, your health requires a lot of time! Even if all you want is to live a reasonably healthy life, you still have to set aside time for adequate rest, exercise and eating well.
PERSONAL GROWTH – Your growth as a person isn’t automatic! In order to grow and mature, you have to put in the hours of reading, reflecting and spending time with people who can help and mentor you to be better.
FINANCES – There are lots of ways that your finances need your time and attention, but one of the biggest needs is planning for your future. Your retirement isn’t going to just show up fully funded when you are 65. If you want to retire comfortably, you have to start setting money aside when you are younger.
Most of you are probably thinking, “Loren, these are not new ideas.” And you are right. You are also smart enough to know that each one of these areas needs an investment of time on your part. Right?
However, if I were to ask you right now to grade your time investment in each of them, I imagine at least one would receive a low grade. And, if you are like most people, you probably have two or three areas that need shoring up.
I have good news. So, listen up. You can very easily make improvement in the way you invest your time. All it takes is one simple habit.
In a word: consistency.
I have observed that most people don’t understand the power of consistency.
Because they use so much of their time poorly, they feel a great pressure to maximize what little time they have left over. That pressure leads them to overdo it and the end results are not what they hoped for, expected and needed.
For example, they put all of their money into a can’t–miss stock, only to see the stock tank three days later. Maybe they needed to improve their health, but worked too hard at the gym, injured themselves, got frustrated and quit.
Whatever the area, the pressure to make the most of the time available often leads to bad results, which leads to people further neglecting to spend the time necessary to make things better.
Bottom line: All of this can be avoided with the habit of consistency. And consistency in this case means you give a little bit of time to each area of need every day and stick with it. Perhaps you start by spending five minutes every morning listening to your spouse. You dedicate 15 minutes every evening to playing with the kids. You put $50 into a savings account with every pay check. You exercise for 20 minutes at least three time a week.
I can promise you one thing. Any small investment won’t feel like much at first.
It is the discipline to stick with it that yields not only tangible results of the investment, but the internal rewards as well. You learn to increase the time you give each area. You become more aware of how you are wasting time. You get sharper, smarter and more focused as a result.
When you live with consistency, you learn that the rewards you seek in life don’t come after you take one step — they come when you’ve taken a journey to a place where you have never been. You may never paint the Sistine Chapel or build an Ark. But with the habit of consistency you will be able to make each day your Masterpiece.
Until next time…
Loren Simmonds has been a resident of Lynnwood for 35 years. He served on the Lynnwood City Council for 16 years and is currently a member of the Lynnwood Civil Service Commission. Loren works as a consultant, writer, speaker and trainer. He is currently a member of the Lynnwood Parks and Recreation Foundation.