When will I die?

It is this same morbid question that we ask ourselves on a regular basis. When will I die? What will I achieve before then? How will I be remembered?

On top of our own morbid internal voices which urge at us to lift ourselves from the mundane existence to the higher levels of spirituality, social status, and career. The seemingly recent explosion of the self improvement craze has us all, at one point or another, seeking the next best diet, sleeping plan, exercise regime, self help book, and the list goes on.

Without a clear personal direction is the desire for self improvement for the sake of itself beneficial and even sustainable? Without a strong enough goal to strive for do we risk desensitising ourselves to the proposed benefits of self improvement in such a saturated industry with outlandish claims? Humans have a great ability to subconsciously ignore that which is not immediately important, regardless of the weight it may have on future tasks or endeavours.

An interesting example to ponder is the Tikker wristwatch http://mytikker.com/. I came across this while searching for a watch with the ability to countdown ones life (seems to provide a average life expectancy based on certain parameters similar to http://www.poodwaddle.com/Life/). It seems to deliver, although I would have preferred a traditional 12 hour analog face with midnight representing birth and death. 

Without a clear life direction would this serve as constant reminder of the passing time and prompt us to get our life in order or would the gimmick soon wear off and precedence be given to immediately important endeavours? 

Isn’t that the problem in the first place? We have so many constant reminders about our impending doom such as birthdays, new years, and the ageing of our mortal forms. The problem is not that we are not reminded about the fact that time is passing. The problem is that the reminders are too frequent and insignificant for us to hold any weight in comparison to the short span of our often volatile situations.

In terms of death, let the mystery of when remain. Steer your short and longterm paths toward true happiness and your purpose will soon follow.

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Travel into your past

One of the results of my obsession for time is the utter shock and, at times, the despair that I have little to no recollection of the detailed actions, thoughts, and feelings which have comprised up of my life. The brain is a processing powerhouse and is extremely good at retiring memories which it deems irrelevant to survival.

Over the last 10 or so years I have kept scrapbook of sorts, which contains the notes, ramblings, and (as I probably thought at the time) the stroke of genius that would change the world :P. I very rarely went back to read these once they were entered and some almost seem as though they were written by another.

As I go through these obscure and unstructured thoughts, certain patterns in my thought method, ideology, and feelings creep up. It is almost as though I have learned the same lessons, come to the same conclusions, and asked the same questions multiple times in different contexts over very wide timescales (separated by years and years). And, as a result, the following questions have been keeping me up at night over the last 3 or so years.

How many times do we learn the same lesson before it sticks?

How else could I record about my past? And what useful information could be extrapolated to speed up this learning process.

And, most importantly, how could my lessons impact others facing the same obstacles and vice versa.

I’m going to finish (for now) with this amazing TED video to help communicate the importance and sheer magnificence of visiting one’s own past to learn.

All the time in the world

Since I have started writing, the idea of time as a currency has really bothered me. Firstly, the majority of my life had taken up working for someone else.
The second thing that has been bothering me is probably the most frustrating. If tomorrow I were to get my wish; if my lifestyle suddenly paid for itself and I had every waking minute to allocate as I see fit; what would I do?
How much time would I devote to me, to my passions and to my future? Would I be who I want to be? Would I have the courage and dedication and motivation to succeed without the dangling carrot or the need to get away from the rat race? Would I procrastinate and squander my time away on the false assumption that there will be more later? Will I make the most of my newly found reasources?
In the past I have found myself letting the little free time I have slip between my fingers. This raises some interesting questions. Without that does not matter, would I share the same passions and would I have the dedication to follow through?
The answer must always be YES! 🙂

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

I would highly recommend the Art of War by Sun Tzu to anyone as a self improvement piece. There is no doubt as to why this is highly regarded by many sales and business people wanting to gain the edge.

Although, the text was produced with the battle in mind, a lot of similarities can be drawn to everyday life. We battle and struggle with ourselves everyday, as we do with others. Its not about life and death and is generally used in context with the selling your product, or how to present yourself to someone to get what you want (oversimplified summary I know).

There is a consistent theme throughout the book which I think is important to everyone and that is to know oneself and until we know ourself we can be our own enemy.

So if you are hitting a brick wall in your life (maybe trying to make or break a habit) why not try a different approach? Maybe looking at yourself and the problem from a different standpoint may reveal the path with the least internal resistance. Isn’t it always better than working with yourself to reach a goal than to work against yourself to do so?

Money for Nothing: not the universal currency

It has become recently apparent that I am obsessed with time!

Time has the power to both imprison and empower us. It is the basis of our society and culture. Much of what we do and who we are is measured by it as it endlessly weathers our universe.

For me, time is the currency in which all debt is paid.

I’ve recently made it past the quarter century mark and can honestly say that I have been somewhat uneasy by the future that I have traded my last 25 years for. I have led a happy life so far, with some amazing achievements. I have always been motivated and goal orientated. Even still, the pit in my stomach is growing by the realization that I am still on track to live out my existence paying for time with time.

On average we are likely to spend about 100 hrs per week (including work, preparing for work, and sleeping), paying for the remaining 68 hours. Our lifestyles may be very different, but we are likely to have the same amount of time to reach our ambitions and follow our goals. But how can we achieve the many different things that we want and lead the life we desire if 68 hours a week is all we have to achieve it in?

Let’s look at how we spend our time so that we can actively reclaim as much of it as possible, instead of handing our precious currency over for the permission to make it to another pay check.

Work:(~50 hours a week) Because the time that we spend at work is an expectation imposed on us by external forces (culture, superiors, peers), our time spent at work is harder to compromise and steal into. Not for a lack of trying though, this is were our holidays, extended lunches and sick days come into play.

Sleep (~50 hours a week): We should be sleeping about as much as we spend at work, but because 68 hours a week is not enough time to chase our dreams, maintain relationships, do chores and loose hours of time in front of the TV, it is only natural that we are tempted to stay up later and wake up earlier. But at what cost? There are some pretty interesting techniques that people have come up with by sleeping less and still improving efficiency (will focus on this in a future post).

Freedom (~68 hours a week): I keep referring to an average of 68 hours a week as the amount if free time we have but for most people (including myself), which is a considerable overstatement: as work, study and other commitments tend to eat away at our energy so that all we want to do with what is left is to relax and not think.

How does your life look? Breaking down my life into the above 3 categories, 2 questions become immediately apparent:

  • How can I move more time from the first to categories into freedom? and,
  • What the hell have I been doing with 68 hours of spare time each week?!?!

If you are out there and have some ideas about reclaiming my time feel free to share :).