I turned fifty recently. I know – hard to believe when you look at me! I reckon I’ve done OK. I’m still fit and have kept most of my hair. Some say I may be getting delusional, but I’m not sure why.
Anyway, turning fifty reminded me of a sobering and somewhat shocking exercise a colleague used to do at conferences. He would get a couple of volunteers up on stage and ask them to fully extend a metal measuring tape between them. He would ask the volunteer holding the very end of the tape to imagine that it represented their total lifespan. The volunteer was asked to point to where they reckoned they were in life’s journey on the tape.
Next came the shocking part. He would whip out a pair of scissors and cut the metal tape at the point indicated by the volunteer. There would be a collective gasp in the crowd as one end of the tape whizzed back into its holder, with the poor volunteer left holding the other end. He then informed them that the years already passed are gone forever, and the remaining tape in their hand represented the rest of their life. A bit uncomfortable, but it got worse!
He would then remind the volunteer of how much time was not in their control, or at their discretion. Time asleep, time on the toilet, time waiting in queues – cutting bits of the tape off with each statement, until all that was left were a few inches of tape representing the discretionary time that was left. The audience loved it. The participant not so much.
The point he made was a very good one. We don’t have a huge amount of discretionary time, so value it. Make the most of it. Make good choices. Be organised. Make time for what is truly important. Don’t live or die with regrets.
I plan to make the most of my next fifty years. I don’t want to spend that time just being busy. I want to be productive, in both work and in life. How about you?