I havent decided if this insight is actually helpful or merely frightening. But quite literally time is something we spend.
We can’t save it. We can’t borrow it. We can’t slow it down or speed it up. However, we can invest it—not in the usual sense of an investment that grows to become more—so that it produces a larger return.
Time comes to us in constant increments every day. Moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day how we choose how will spend it. Time passes through our fingers fleetingly, pausing just long enough for us to decide what we will do with it. I guess we can avoid choosing and let let others dictate life for us, but even that is our choice. And, that’s the thing. We spend time by the choices we make. Frighteningly, we only get one shot and once spent, it’s gone.
If you know me, you will know that I am constantly thinking about the way I live my life. I want to live my life on purpose, with focus and intentionality. I even have this little personal tool I created that I review and tweak every year. I call it “My Pirates Code,” and it defines my best understanding of how to manage my time and energy in light of the way I am wired and the responsibilities I am responsible for. But the notion of time as something I spend is a new twist.
Margaret, my wife, gets credit for naming this insight. On our anniversary a few weeks ago, we were reviewing the last year of our marriage and talking about the lessons we learned. The depth of what it means for time to be something we spend is one of those lessons that was big for us last year. Sure, it comes from reconizing that we are getting older, but, there is more to it. Over the past couple years we have lost close friends die too early. We have seen debilitating illness change the trajectory of others. And tragic accidents have interrupted life for other families we love.
None of us know what is coming down the road in near future. We only know that today we get to choose how we will spend the time we have been given.
So, I have been thinking, what criteria might help me make the right choices for how I spend this elusive commodity? I don’t have many answers, but I have identified three questions I want to continuously ask myself.
1.) If I do this, will it make a difference in the people, projects, or priorities that are profoundly important to me?
2.) Is this something that is life-giving for me?
3.) If I only had one year to live, is this something I would want to spend my time on?
So, how are you spending your time these days? If you read this, you just spent a couple of your minutes thinking about the importance of the way you spend time. So, what adjustments do you need to make?
Have you identified other questions or criteria that help you spend time well and live with intentionality? What other insights do you have for the rest of us that might help us steward the most significant commodity of life?