When I was in Switzerland at the end of June I hung out with my brother. We are quite different in our approach to life and in other ways quite similar so of course we disagreed about some things. He thinks that I plan too much. To my friends back in Australia I expect that would be hilarious. I’m certainly on the ‘bottom end of the planning spectrum’ amongst my mates. But that is all set to change! I’m beginning an experiment to see how I relate to time…
Every moment is precious.
Once it has passed,
You can never get it back.
The next moment is here.
You can’t press ‘pause’ on your remote,
Or rewind to yesterday.
You can’t store time like money in the bank,
but you have 168 hours to spend,
Each week and every week.
When I leave this Earth I want to know that I have squeezed every last drop out of my life and wasted nothing. Every second that is spent working towards my dreams is time well spent. So my promise to myself is to spend each moment of my life doing something that I believe in – something I’m genuinely passionate about. Three years ago I vowed to stop making myself do things that a part of me didn’t want to do. No more fighting myself… It was pretty scary! What would happen if I let go of all expectations and went with the flow in each moment? My main concern was that I might just sit around on my arse all day and do nothing…
So what happened? Do I sit around and smoke a bong all day? Am I homeless, living on the streets and posting this from a public library? Do I sleep in until noon every day?
Well no actually, I don’t. I rarely use an alarm clock and I wake up each day when the sun comes up. I look forward to each day and the new challenges it brings. Believe me, there have been a lot lately! I’m excited about my goals and they motivate me. I want to run a successful business that helps people to enjoy life more fully. I want to be wealthy in both time and money. I want to have deep and meaningful relationships with my friends and family. I want to run a 3 hour marathon and I want to learn to play ‘Hey Jude’ on the guitar.
“The great arises
out of small things
that are honored and cared for.
really consists of small things.
Greatness is a mental abstraction
and a favorite fantasy of the ego.
The paradox is that
the foundation for greatness
is the honoring of the small things
of the present moment instead of pursuing
the idea of greatness.”
Eckart Tolle in ‘A New Earth’
So why all the planning? Why am I giving away my heard-earned freedom? I’m not shackled to 9-5 and I can chose my own work hours so why am I planning my weeks in meticulous detail?
Well this may seem counter-intuitive but I find a deep sense of inner calm from my cycles of daily / weekly planning and review. There is a part of my mind asking “What is am I going to do in the future?” and another part that wants to know “Am I doing the right thing in this moment?“. My mind is more hyperactive than most but I suspect I’m not the only person in the world who has this experience. Both of these questions keep me from my deep knowing and being present in my Now… and besides, they are impossible to answer with any certainty! The truth is that they are actually both really good questions. Just not when they are being asked all the time, as if by a four year old who has discovered questions for the first time. My hope is that a regular cycle of planning and review can give both of these voices an audience and some space to do their work. This is of course an experiment so I have no way of knowing what the results will be. If I were an enlightened being I probably wouldn’t need to draw out a little chart with my coloured pencils which I fill in every day and add up at the end of each week…
As with other areas like ‘telephone sales‘ I think that ‘planning‘ gets a bad reputation on account of over-zealous practitioners operating at a low skill level. Ever had someone trying to persuade you to buy something that you really don’t want? Or a friend who wants to ‘lock in’ an appointment 7 weeks from now? For me good planning is about aligning my time allocation towards my dreams. It is about self-honesty and its certainly about flexibility. If I ‘fail’ to do something I planned to do then perhaps it wasn’t the right thing… or perhaps it wasn’t the right time… or perhaps I just lost track or time, plain and simple. Either way I can smile to myself and learn something as I review my week, modify my plan for the next one.
To be aware of the passing of each hour in the background,
and to know that each one has been well spent.
To love and cherish each moment as it arises,
and let it go just as the next one appears.
That is my version of bliss.