Forward thinking: Your most valuable asset

At some point, you may have heard me talk about having three stint heart implants… the year was 2006 and I was 63 years old.

At that point in time, I was travelling a lot in my consulting business. In other words, I was eating most of my meals in hotels, restaurants and mini-markets. Needless to say, my weight ballooned up to a very unsafe number and was putting a lot of stress on my heart. Thus the need for the stint implants.

Following the implants, I had a follow-up consultation with my cardiologist. I remember him asking me how long I wanted to live. I quickly responded “as long as possible.” And just as quickly, he responded “well, you won’t, unless you lose 50 pounds.” And I am happy to tell you that I did, and it is still off!

However, that whole ordeal proved to be a major turning point in my life in other ways. I not only re-evaluated what, when and how much I ate, I also began to re-evaluate how I was using my time. The end result was a list of the five most valuable uses of time.

My goal even to this day is to invest as much time every day as possible in the following five areas of my life:

• Time with God
• Time with people I love
• Time with myself
• Time advancing my purpose in life
• Time developing and building a support team

Undoubtedly, your list will be different from mine, but unless you make a conscious decision to direct your time, I can guarantee you much of it will get wasted. It’s sad, but true.

While going through the above exercise, I discovered investing time follows the same principles as investing money. For example, financial experts remind us the answer to saving more money is also discovering where money is being wasted, then redirecting it toward our financial goals.

I have found the same principle works with time. Allow me to share a few simple ways to gain an extra hour or more a day you can then give to something or someone you treasure.

PREPARE TO BE OUT OF TOUCH

If you allow your cell phone, pager, e-mail or staff to interrupt you at will, you will spend the lion’s share of your day dealing with other peoples’ crises. In turn, you will not spend a moment on things that are important to you. In other words, set aside a specific time every day to return calls, e-mails and meet with others. But only do so after you’ve invested in something of value to you.

PICK SOMETHING AND NEVER DO IT AGAIN

There are many (perhaps dozens) of things you are doing that could be, or should be, done by someone else… or not at all. If pulling weeds is therapy for you, by all means do it. If not, hire a neighbor kid to do it and buy back your time for pennies on the dollar.

Whether it’s mowing your yard, cleaning your car, sorting mail or mindlessly flipping channels on TV, there is something you could give up today and never miss. But the time you gain back will be invaluable.

CHOOSE YOUR MOOD

Do you know anyone who can’t seem to work unless the conditions are just right? If he or she is upset or angry or depressed or lonely, he or she can’t be productive.

No one else can make you sad, glad, happy or mad. Choose to be in the kind of mood that makes you productive and quit being held hostage by your emotions.

FORGET QUICK FIXES

Whether it is hiring a team member, dealing with a critic or learning a new skill, taking time to do it right the first time is always quicker in the long run than taking shortcuts. Taking a shortcut inevitably costs us again down the road.

We spend thousands of dollars every year securing our homes and cars against the thief waiting to break in and steal. I would exhort you to be just as diligent to make sure you don’t steal from yourself by going for the quick fit.

Bottom line… time is your most valuable asset. Invest more of it wisely, starting today. Starting right now.

Until next time…

Loren (1)–By Loren Simmonds

Loren Simmonds has been a resident of Lynnwood for 37 years. He served on the Lynnwood City Council for 16 years, including eight as Council President. He remains active in the community by serving on the Parks and Recreation Foundation Board, Civil Service Commission and the Snohomish County Planning Commission. He believes that volunteerism sows the seeds of community. Loren is semi-retired and works as a writer, speaker and leadership coach.

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