I hear this all the time in different Stoic podcasts and in some of the materials that I’ve been reading, that of all the things we are guilty of wasting most, it’s time. It’s the most valuable, most finite resource that we have, yet we waste it for one reason or another. I think I’m pretty much the worst offender.
A few days ago I set myself three simple goals to achieve yesterday — walk two miles, work on flushing out some details on a creative outlet for myself, and pick out a few things to put on eBay to start working towards a semi-minimalist lifestyle. Yeah, I pretty much blew off those goals. Admittedly, it was partially botched by the paralyzing affect of some chronic back pain that I’ve been dealing with and a Lego League group that I am coaching and my son is in. So I did have a couple legitimate excuses, but I also still had at least an hour in there somewhere; and I just blew it all off.
This isn’t the first time that this has happened — I think a feeling of “eh, I just don’t care enough today” sets in and suddenly everything gets blown off for one reason or another. When you lack energy and struggle with seasonal depression, it’s pretty easy to cave in to the slightest demotivator.
But perhaps something that isn’t talked about enough, is that I think this aspect of Stoicism has to be held in a tight balance — you can’t sustain a mode of “I must make all the time super productive”, I don’t feel that it’s humanly possible. I think that you also need time to sit, rest, reflect, and even veg out — recharging some of your brain power to be able to take on some of the things you aspire to. So there’s that to think about and weigh in on the aspiration to live out a truly productive and well-lived life.
On a personal level, I think I need to come in at ground level and be a lot more conservative about what it is I aspire to achieve day-in, day-out. Even the three simple tasks I set out for myself were pretty quickly crowded out by a busy evening, and I’m sorry when the Minnesota Wild come on, my attention will likely get quickly diverted over to watching the boys play. 🙂 So I think for the sake of setting myself up for success, I think I’m going to simplify it to setting up one goal per day to achieve — between a job, the commute to/from work, time with my kids and wife, there really isn’t a whole lot left for me to get things done.
The weekend is an entirely different beast — if we don’t have any set things going on, I usually have more than enough time to get things done but find myself squandering away that time with just hanging around on the couch or blowing the time away on video games (when the kids even let me have some TV time).
I think I will have to map out my days and weekends to provide myself more structure, and targeted goals that will help me get a step or two closer to my overarching goals — seeking wisdom and knowledge, striving to be healthier and more physically fit, living with less things and less clutter (semi-minimalist), and using my talents and skills to express myself creatively and make the world around me a bit brighter. I’m not sure how this will all play out or how to structure this in an achievable way, but I do feel that even despite yesterday feeling like a throw-away day for me, I am still a step or two closer to the life I want to live and establishing a personal philosophy for living out that life.