Turning back time

We don’t know how much time we have

During the holidays, New York City is packed with people – on the sidewalks, inside stores and in the subway. Usually, I fade the crowds out to get to where I want to go.

But today, as I waded through tourists stopping to short to take photos, I stopped to look at what they were focused on. As I followed their gaze, I saw this massive “Believe” sign lit up on the side of Macy’s Department Store in Herald Square. This beautiful sign made me realize that although I’ve spent most of my life in NYC, I’ve seen very little of the city. This insight caught my attention because when I travel to other cities, I try to maximize every minute of my time to see as much as possible.

As I thought more about this phenomenon, I came to the following conclusion:

I push off seeing more of NYC because I believe I have more than enough time to do so.

This reasoning also explains why I saw so much more of cities that I don’t see myself going back to anytime soon.

This perception-induced procrastination dominates other aspects of our lives. When we think we have a lot of time, we put off the important actions and work that we could be doing right now.

In Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle is the Way, he shares an interesting practice from the ancient Stoic philosophers: meditating on one’s mortality.

The idea is to recognize that you will die and your expiration date might be sooner than you think. We often overestimate how much time we’ll have because we’re not even thinking about it. In some cultures, it’s even taboo to talk or think about death for the fear of inviting calamity.

But what if you only had six weeks to live? What would you start doing today? What would you stop doing immediately?

How would your life change if you know you didn’t have the time to do everything you wanted to do? What would you do differently or who would  you reach out to right now?

As you come up with responses to these questions, put these actions on the top of your goals list for 2017.  We never know how long we have. Don’t put off the things you want to do, see or say.

As morbid as it sounds, we will all die. The important question is What do you want to happen because you lived?

If you’re not sure where to start, plan your 2017 as if you’re planning a vacation to a destination you’ll never go back to again. What will be on your itinerary for tomorrow, next week or next month?

For me, it is taking my son to the Holiday Train Show at the NY Botanical Gardens.

Photo by MattysFlicks

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Robert Chen

Robert Chen is the founder of Embrace Possibility and author of The Dreams to Reality Fieldbook. He helps people who feel stuck move forward by guiding them to see other possibilities for their lives. He specializes in working with high performers get to the next level. If you're going through a tough time right now, check out Robert's article on How to Feel Better Right Away and if you're having trouble getting what you want out of life, check out How to Always Achieve Your Goals.

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