We have all experienced the desire to go back and fix something in the past. I recently started watching the 1985 sci-fi comedy, Back to the Future, with one of my daughters, and it is top of mind as I think about the value of time each and every day. I think this is one of the reasons why this movie still holds some appeal. There is time travel with some flair. Marty and Doc had so much fun going back and ultimately changing the past to create a somewhat better future.
While breaking the space-time continuum is still a figment of our imagination, the value of time is real. Time lies at the top of the list of things that cannot be undone. Once it is past it is gone. It cannot be recycled. It is a limited resource and it is non-renewable. Thinking about time this way is a bit sobering!
Here Are 5 Time Travel Secrets:
#1 Accept time as an invaluable gift. If we live 100 years we have 36,500 days or 876,000 hours to spend. That is our budget. There is no way to get more. If those things look like big numbers, consider today. I have 24 hours. Sleep gets about 8 hours on a good day. That leaves me with 16 hours of waking time. I read an article recently that said something like, “What if tomorrow was not guaranteed unless today was the best possible day.” What would I change if today had to be the absolute best I could make it? What would I add to my day? What would I immediately stop doing? What a clarifying lens to use in thinking about time!
#2 Take an honest look at your excuses and change your mind. We are all full of the desire to rationalize our behavior and make excuses. Set that aside for a moment. You may have some limitations, but are these really what hold you back? Instead of making excuses, ask yourself what you can do to change how you use your time. I find myself saying things like, “I’m on all day at work and work so hard, so now I can chill out and watch this worthless movie.” I’m pretty good at this excuses thing, and I could share about 14 other excuses, but I have a hunch you have your own. What would happen if we turned that unproductive time toward something valuable and instead of blowing it, invested in improving ourselves and helping those around us? Massive Change.
#3 Weigh your habits and lose the fat. Steven Covey said, “We become what we repeatedly do.” Often our lives are filled with bad habits that crowd out the possibility of better ones. To change we need to evaluate our habits and get rid of the time killers. We all have some of these. For me, Facebook can be a snare. An hour of looking at posts, reading articles, and following that link can flash by in what seems like 5 minutes. It could be anything that habitually draws you in — TV, movies, gaming, sports, or another hobby? Are you choosing to habitually do the things that align with your long-term goals? Are you putting things of value first like faith, family and helping others? I challenge myself and you to cut out the junk!
#4 Create new habits that take you out of neutral. If you cut out the bad habits, you will have room for the new. According to habits research, it takes a minimum of 21 days to develop a new habit. This requires some discipline. According to habits expert, BJ Fogg, there are three ways to create a new habit: have an epiphany, change your environment, or take baby steps. He says that the easiest way to change is to take baby steps, create a trigger, start small and repeat. For instance, every night, when I finish brushing my teeth before bed, I will read at least 5 minutes of that book I want to finish. His method is quite simple, and you can find more, including a free class at www.tinyhabits.com.
#5 Develop relationships with people who help and encourage. It is hard to stay focused on personal growth on your own. Ask your spouse or a friend to listen to your goals and ask them to follow up with you every few days to see how you are doing. Better yet, find someone who wants to make some changes too, and do them together. If your friends are not a positive influence, find a group of people who have a positive outlook. You might find this at the right church, or in a morning study group, or you might know someone who is an encourager with whom you can formulate a better relationship. Create a positive environment around you!
I’d still like a ride in that time-traveling DeLorean. But, somehow I think time is a constraint we will never change, so the better course is to treat it as the non-renewable resource that it is. What a high goal, to spend each minute at its best and improve your life and the lives of those around you. Now let’s go out and do it!