“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller
Who would have thought that in the iconic pop culture film, Ferris Bueller, the infectious and fun loving, but equally irresponsible character, portrayed by Matthew Broderick would offer up something so prophetic.
As we approach the change of years I have been reflecting on a phrase commonly bantered around at this end of the calendar – ‘the year has just flown by’ – and wondering why it is that some people have this perception. Clearly none of us want our life to ‘fly by’. We even know that time is not actually going any faster yet so many people seem to be experiencing an ‘increase’ in the speed of time. A new year offers a fresh opportunity to evaluate what we are doing and a chance to change our circumstances. Goals and resolutions are set but how can we make sure that 2019 is more successful than any year to date? How can we achieve more whilst also creating the feeling of more time?
This is a problem of perception and it has two parts:
1. Unconscious living; and
2. A lack of self reflection.
Overloaded schedules and extended to-do lists have us ricochetting through life from one activity to the next, seldom being fully present in the moment that we are in. The fundamental issue seems to be that the modern world has trapped us in a psychological position of always thinking forward, looking to what is next and glorifying being busy – all in order to get ahead.
But ahead of who and what? And for What purpose?
In what is an interesting juxtaposition, the trap here is that by approaching life in this manner, with a never ending to-do list at the forefront of our minds, we will always feel behind. Never enough time, always more to do. It is unlikely that the recent rise in popularity of mindfulness is just a coincidence, as people continue to explore different means to drag themselves out of this time-speed vortex and back to the present.
Mindfulness (or conscious living/DIRECTION) in fact makes up half of the solution to the problem of time ‘flying by’. Being mindful and truly present helps us to experience more enriching moments and enrichment is the key as there is a big difference between a full life and a full schedule. True mindfulness is taking notice of our actions and thoughts and understanding where we are and what we are doing in each and every moment. It helps us to experience life by the activation of all of our senses through interactions with the world around us. Unfortunately, mindfulness for many is just another item in their schedule and practised this way, does little to slow down time. In contrast, life will be full of enrichment if you allow yourself to experience mindfulness at its full vibration.
Fortuitously, a few days ago I stumbled across the other half of the solution to ‘slowing down’ time. – REFLECTION. I was talking to my wife about our annual trip to stay at my family’s beach house and she asked “Can you believe it was 12 months ago that Elke was pointing at the colours on the rocking horse at the beach house?”, referring to a video of our then 15 month old daughter). My response – “wow that seems like so long ago”.
But how could that be? If time is speeding up and the year has ‘flown by’, how can something that happened a year ago seem so far away at the same time? And herein lies the answer.
In order to not be overcome by our future thinking, to do lists and full schedules, we have to strike a balance between looking forward and looking BACK. We have to invest in both REFLECTION and DIRECTION and make sure they are both part of the goal setting process.
REFLECTION has so much value to offer. Looking back allows us to understand how we have used our time and to celebrate what we have achieved and experienced. This is nourishing for the soul and helps us to build confidence and self-esteem. It allows us to be grateful for the opportunities that life has afforded us and celebrate our ability to work through periods of challenge and come out the other side stronger and wiser. That wisdom is powerful when applied to our future DIRECTION through goal setting.
Reflecting also allows us to see ‘how much’ life we have experienced over the past 12 months and by doing so we can lengthen our internal timeline and ‘slow’ down the feeling of time – just as it did when I thought about my daughter at the beach house last year. Lastly, reflecting allows us to shed the unhelpful thoughts and outdated goals that we need to let go of, in order to make room for our new goals. It sets us up for success with our new direction.
Now for DIRECTION – that is the easy part… isn’t it? A new year arrives, you set some goals and resolutions and you work towards achieving them. Simple right? If only it was truly that easy. A major problem that people face today is trying to determine what they really want out of their life. With the internet and social media providing us with a never ending list of things we can do, see and have, it can be really difficult to hone in on what is important to US. One thing is for sure though and that is that success won’t be found by trying to replicate the life of somebody else, You need to create your own life based on dreams and goals that resonate with you.
So how do we create our own direction and what markers do we use to measure against when engaging in reflection?
I think that in answering that, firstly it is imperative to understand that life has both quantitative and qualitative aspects. The quantity relates to how long we have to live and the quality relates to the calibre of moments that fill our life. To me it makes sense to formulate goals that will positively impact both your quantity and quality of life.
Let’s start with quantity. Simply put, if you want more time on the planet then you need to look after your body. Health is the natural expression of life, so if you want more of it then you need to facilitate this through actions for optimum function. This is a crucial point. It is easy to be tricked into aiming for the minimum daily exercise, minimum daily intake of nutrients etc but is that really serving you and ensuring that you are living your best life? If you are not aiming for optimum you are robbing yourself of both quantity and quality of life.
So when it comes to quantity the first questions you need to ask yourself are ‘What standards are you going to set for yourself around your own health behaviours?’ and ’What does optimum look like for you?’
Once you know what you are willing to accept, then a great starting point is applying this standard to the following six areas of your life:
- Movement and function
- Food sourcing, preparation and consumption
- Mindset, self talk and motivation
- Relationships with self, family, friends and colleagues
- The environmental impact of your decisions
If you can improve yourself in each of these six areas you are well on your way to more laps around the sun.
Moving onto quality, this is where things really get interesting. Given we all have an undefined amount of time in life, it is important to try to maximise every minute. This doesn’t mean we should all adopt mantras like YOLO (you only live once) and FOMO (fear of missing out) but that we should instead consider both the payoff and the opportunity cost of how we choose to spend our time. Work is a fantastic example of these costs as it is quite time expensive (the opportunity cost) but the income derived from work can provide enrichment in many other aspects of life such as family, travel, fitness, hobbies, education etc (the payoff). However, if not carefully considered, long work hours will start to cannibalise those other areas of life and consequently reduce our quality of life. This is the same if we polarise our time too far towards any aspect of life.
When it comes to quality it is therefore imperative that you first establish which aspects of life are important to you and try to arrange them into an order of priority. An example of this might be:
Once you have this worked out, then you can begin reflecting on how you spent your time during the year that just passed. Did you attribute enough time to the areas of life that are the most important to you? What can you reconfigure your allocation of time to provide for a more enriching life in 2019 and beyond? Try this simple five point action plan below.
SIMPLE FIVE POINT ACTION PLAN:
- Take your important aspects of life and establish a hierarchy from most important to least important. This will help you to figure out where to spend most of your time.
- Come to an agreement with yourself around what standards you will accept from yourself when it comes to health and wellbeing.
- Using the above two points as your guide, undertake some REFLECTION of how you went about things in 2018. Give yourself praise for the aspects that you nailed and take away some lessons from the aspects that were less successful.
- Using the information from the above three points, set yourself a specific and considered DIRECTION. Ensure that your goals are targeting an increase in the quantity and quality of your life through replicating your successful actions from this year and using your lessons to improve all of the other elements as well.
- Lastly, DO NOT over schedule your life. Leave room for play, spontaneity and also for ONGOING REFLECTION in order to re-establish clarity in your direction along the way.
Don’t let time ‘fly by’ for you in 2019 and beyond. REFLECTION and DIRECTION in balance are the keys to being able to stay present and enjoy each and every moment. As we embark on the journey of 2019 take with you this quote from the ancient philosopher Seneca:
“Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested.”
Dr Marcus Yeo. Owner and chiropractor at MY Chiropractic.
Do you want more support or specifics in creating your 2019 vision!? Are you looking to connect with a likeminded and goal oriented community?
****Great news!!! ****
We’re excited to be hosting a one off workshop on Wednesday the 16th of January with Dr Marcus Yeo and Gemma Hanley, our Master NLP and Hypnosis Practitioner. The workshop will be a blend of key components of the psychology of success and some practical applications to get you going with your direction and reflection right there on the night. Spaces are limited to only 15 and the investment from your end is $10 with all proceeds being donated to charity. To make sure you don’t miss out, reserve your spot right now – HERE!! (click on group session and navigate from there)