Most of us have heard much exalted talk about the qualities of being present in our own time. And sometimes we confuse being present with being there, for whatever life throws at us, reacting fast to move it or get it out of the way.
It is of course quite invigorating to “fight the obstacles” of the day, and dopamine-rushing to attack whatever next comes at us. And while fighting everything with agility in the moment might make us feel powerful 💪 and invigorated, one thing it doesn’t do: it doesn’t make us feel like we have more time! ⌛
We exalt and appreciate the qualities action has in our own lives. We are always told: thinking is good, but take action on it, else it doesn’t matter.
However, there is a balance to be had, and being constantly in action might make us feel fast on our feet, and might help us achieve more, but it doesn’t make us feel like we have an abundance of time at our fingertips like there is leisure to be had, and we are free within our time.
There are however two type of time uses that are secret weapons in feeling we don’t need to be rushed, always on our feet, and always there to deal with things.
These types of time use usually go sideways as soon as we try to just focus on the present, and take action. Because they don’t involve focusing on the present, neither do they involve taking action (though they might lead to very nice types of presence and action-taking in the future).
These types of time use are about focusing on your future and focusing on your past.
Yes, you heard it well - forget being in the present, focus on future and past for a little while.
Focusing either on the future or on the past in these special ways will make you feel like you AFFORD to do so - therefore you must have more abundance of time at your fingertips than any fighting in the present will ever make you feel.
Imagining the future, tasting the multiplicity of paths it could take is, in some sense, an exercise in tasting infinity. Planning, conquering or designing our futures in completely new ways is only limited by our imaginations.
The trap we usually fall into is to stay in auto-pilot mode. 👨✈️ To imagine that next week will be the same as last week, and next month the same as last month, or the same as the same month last year, etc.
Sooner rather than later we end up with a boring life, 🥱 with the past completely predicting our future (and what if our past is nothing to enjoy or get excited by?)
The miracle of life (and also its complete scary vulnerability) is that we cannot take anything for granted. The Future starts tomorrow, or next hour, or in a few minutes, and there can be an abyss between what the past has been and what the future will be.
This of course is related to our power of decision-making. We can jump into a different future in the next 5 minutes, if we want to. For this we need two things: imagination 🌈 and planning skills. ✍
Making time to plan is essential because only through planning we can make sure that our lives are becoming what we would like them to be! And because it gives us the feeling that we afford time to plan our lives, that we can step back and make different choices.
When we step out of “action time” into planning time, something magic happens. We feel all these possibilities and this freedom, and we remember who is at the wheel.
You might not be able to change everything into your day to day, but planning and exercising your imagination about what you could change, and how your life could look like, are going to have an impact. They will redress the boat of your life a few degrees towards your desired goals, and/or they will start your brain thinking on what new deep resources you might activate, how you could creatively put in motion things so that you make the future you want happen.
Most of all, taking time to plan will make you feel you have time and decision power.
Ok, I can see how taking time to plan would help me, you might say. It will help me in the future. But what is the point in reminiscing about the past? Surely that time is wasted, as the past is already gone?
Well, that time is wasted if you don’t care about happiness. Because, according to research, there is a link between the ability to reminisce about the past, index and revisit happy and empowering memories, and your day to day happiness.
Taking time to savour your life will make you feel like you have time! Revisiting happy and empowering moments will remind you how good life is, and even let you live for a little while in those memories, as if you were “banking happiness”, to use up and revisit later.
How often can you revisit a good memory? Many many times, so obviously great memories are very useful to make!
Revisiting these particular memories will also remind you how nice it is when things go well, that they do, and that you can create beauty and happiness in your life together with the people you care for.
Why would you feel like you have more time? Because the very act of stepping out of “action mode” for this little indulgence, half an hour or an hour (or 5 minutes) of remembering something pleasant, or revisiting old pictures, will tell your brain that yeah, your life is not about constant motion and fighting, and YES, you can stop and enjoy and there are things to enjoy too.
Time for action can of course help you forward your goals. But what is the point in achieving your goals, if you never get to even remember that you have reached them?
So how can you integrate these different types of time in your life? Of course they do not require you to give up action time. In fact they maintain their pleasant taste through contrast to action time.
Planning time only makes sense and is enjoyable if you know that you would take action towards those plans! And you have to have made some enjoyable things happen in order to be able to Reminisce about them. So it is not so much about stepping out of action completely, as it is about enjoying and allowing for different types of time, tasting them, understanding their value.
Because understanding their value is essential so that you will create time for them, rather than stealing it and donating it all to action time! 😊
While continuous action time will quite possibly make you feel numb after a while.