Let's Talk about Time

emotional intelligence May 22, 2024
Stages of my life

Time is a curious phenomenon, almost like a character in the story of our lives, changing roles as we grow. My relationship with time is continuously transforming, as I face various phases of my life and career.  Time has morphed from a barrier in my youth to a precious commodity in this later stage of my life and career.

This evolution has made me ponder: How can we navigate our changing perceptions of time to thrive at every stage of our existence?

Youth: Time as a Limiting Factor

When I was younger, time felt like a thick, slow-moving fog. I had grand visions—ideas that felt urgent and vital. Yet, I was constantly concerned I would be brushed aside, too young to be taken seriously. Time seemed to crawl, and I wished it would hurry up. I was eager to collect enough years to earn the respect and credibility I craved. This perception of time as an adversary was frustrating—it was the gatekeeper keeping me from my dreams – or so I thought.

Middle Years: The Race Against Time

As I moved into my middle years, my relationship with time shifted dramatically. Time was a sprinter, and I was forever trying to catch up. My days were a blur of roles—professional, mentor, wife, caretaker, friend. Each demanded a piece of my continuously divided attention. There was never enough time, and the pressure to perform flawlessly in every area was overwhelming. I lived in constant negotiation with time, always bartering for more, never feeling fully satisfied with my accomplishments.

This period was marked by a profound sense of speeding through life like a Formula 1 professional driver, unable to stop or slow down except for the occasional refueling. 

Aging: Time as a Fading Resource?

As I age, the future is no longer a distant mystery; it feels sharply finite. "If only I were ten years younger," I think, or "I don’t have enough years to do everything I want." This urgency can be paralyzing, the awareness of a shorter timeline casting a shadow over my aspirations and dreams. yet if I dwell on time as a fading resource, I will make it so!

Thriving at Any Age: Breaking Free from the Tyranny of Time

Reflecting on these shifts, I've learned that thriving in any stage of life requires a mental shift in how we perceive and interact with time. Here are some strategies that can help:

  1. Embrace Presentism: Focus on the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or fretting about the future. Engaging fully with the now can enrich your time experience, making it feel more expansive and less constraining.
  2. Set Intentional Goals: Align your goals with your current life stage. Recognize the resources and strengths you have now rather than what you had or wish you had. This alignment reduces feelings of regret and increases satisfaction.
  3. Cultivate Mindfulness: Practice mindfulness to deepen your appreciation of time. Techniques like meditation or sitting in a beautiful garden can slow down your perception of time passing and help you manage anxiety about the future or regrets about the past.
  4. Seek Joyful Engagements: Invest time in activities that bring joy and fulfillment. Joy has a unique way of stretching time, making life feel richer and more rewarding.
  5. Adopt a Learner’s Mindset: No matter your age, approach life with curiosity and openness to learning. This can transform how you experience time, making each moment an opportunity for growth and discovery.

Time's realities won't change; however, our perceptions can transform. By reframing how we view and use our time at different stages of our lives, we can break through the mental barriers. We can learn to see time not as a foe but as a friend, offering us the ongoing opportunity to thrive and contribute to the world.  

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