Time is frequently painted to be both the most precious and villainous energy in the universe. It is invaluable, cannot be created, and no amount of political or financial capital can recapture lost Time. We use it in the literal to describe living in the moment, being present to truly enjoy life; along with the abstract to articulate the curse and unrelenting attrition of Time’s arrow. I find the most consistent struggle I have with Time is within the small losses I face from bad daily habits which compound into losing Time and effort on a much grander scheme. Shane Parrish puts it more succinctly: “we waste years because we cannot waste hours”.
I am keenly familiar with the anxious rumbling of obsessing over how I am going to spend my time day over day. Letting my thoughts run wild with a focus on how to plan out each moment of each day. What time should I roughly start laundry, how can I fit my workout in while making sure I don’t let it slip so long that I don’t do it, how do I ensure I read before 3pm so that I can start dinner, and how do I ensure all if this is done perfectly so I hit something for each of my goals and still get to bed on time? Inevitably, I fail at this overly developed one man orchestra. I sit down, focusing so intensely on how not to waste time and how to ensure things are done near perfect, that I overwhelm myself. In doing this, I fall back to my bad mental habits that make me feel safe (along with being powerful examples of muscle memory) and engage in overly familiar low value high addiction activities – pointless web surfing, streaming re-runs, and social media rabbit holes.
What I think Shane captures so well is that this obsession to be productive that so many people share – whether through their chores or errands, or figuring how to thread the needle on their free time and weekends – routinely culminates in unwanted or even unacknowledged impulse responses.
Life is journey of unending change and the pursuit of constant growth. To break away from worrying about an hour I lost on Tuesday or an evening I watched a few more NHL bubble games than I had planned, I focus on where I want to be in a year from now and what it takes to get there. Am I doing a little bit each day to get there? Can I look back and simply say that I did something, regardless of magnitude, that pushed any of my goals and habits forward? Now that is a much more manageable task. Even if you were lying in bed realizing you had done nothing that day, you could get up and stretch or read a single page of a book and rest knowing that you made a choice to be better. You chose to do something to strengthen that pull for that next year. Little moments of making progress and having an abundance mindset stack and yield powerful mental returns.
“Cause I get this feeling and maybe you get it too, we’re on a roller coaster stuck on its loopty loop, cause what we did one day on a whim, will slowly become all we do”
Now in the full scope of that song, the artist is actually embracing new change as he realizes what once was spontaneous has become routine. I feel like we do this without realizing what is happening. We go through life often doing what we’re told, and are frustrated with a routine we never designed in the first place. We make the best choices in the moment that we can, but we don’t train ourselves to make decisions and to think for ourselves.
I want to chase that feeling in the quote. I want to get to that point where I have to reflect on what I’m working on because now I approached it with my eyes open. I want to look back from this time in 2021 (even though by then my goals will have continued to develop and evolve with me) and know that I followed my honest goals and independent motivations as the next sign post on my journey. I support self-evaluation and continuous change – but first, now that I am embracing more agency over my life, I want to get stuck on a roller coaster I created rather than one I just ended up on.
And being more honest with myself and my goals, instead of sitting here worrying about each individual day, I can whisper to myself as a reminder “One More Year”.