3 Brilliant Ways to Waste Your Life (365 Days of Spirited Living – DAY 237)
“Don’t waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour’s duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
If we don’t believe in our goals, we will never reach them. If we only wish for things to get better, they will stay the same. If we don’t take action and make progress, we never get to where we want to go. If we don’t work for it hard enough, we’ll never get it. If we don’t learn to ask the right questions, we’ll always end up with the wrong answers or no answers at all. If we aren’t willing to find solutions, there will always be a problem. If we don’t have faith, we’ll be stuck in the same place dreaming about what could have been. Too many of us waste our lives doing all the wrongs things expecting to get to the right places.
While we all must deal with our own personal issues, there is little doubt that there are some brilliant things we universally do that causes us to waste our lives:
1. We waste our lives being busy instead of productive.
Many people go to work for 8 hours every single day and at the end of 30 years have absolutely nothing to show for the time spent on their job. Why is this? Because people confuse spending time doing something with actually accomplishing something. Never confuse activity with progress. They are both vastly different. Take a roller coaster ride, with all its twists and turns, it goes in one direction, always moving but never making progress. A rocking chair is the same way, constantly swinging back and forth, but never moving forward. And this is what a lot of people do; they go off in a million different direction but never actually significant progress.
Oftentimes, our mind lies to us by making us feel we are being productive when we’re running errands, returning phone calls, answering emails, and so forth. While all these things may need to be done in the course of a day, these are not true priorities. When they take up the majority of our time, we can be sure that we are merely busy and not productive. When little things begin to crowd my agenda, I take the time to go back through and remove everything but the very important. Sometimes, it may be just one very important thing, and if it is I make sure to spend my time doing that thing that will actually move the ball forward.
2. We waste our lives by not paying attention to the small things.
You know, it really is the small things that keep us up at night and in a tizzy during the day. Sometimes we overlook the small things simply because they are small. At other times, we let the small things get too far being undone that they become very big problems. Someone once said, “don’t sweat the small stuff.” That’s true. But the small stuff can turn into big stuff worth our sweat if we don’t take care of them when it’s small. Everyone starts small. A lifetime of responsibility begins with one learning to make the bed every morning as a child. A lifetime of dependability and competence begins with one learning to do the dishes and take out the trash at a young age.
Sure, it’s all small stuff. But just imagine the mess that would ensue if the dishes are never washed, the trash never gets taken out, and the bed is never made. We don’t have time to do what we deem as more important if we don’t first take a little time to do the little things. So for right now, forget about your corporate level job or your professional sports position and go wash the dishes, put your coffee mug in the dishwasher, put your clothes in the laundry, sweep the living room floor, dust the windows, take out the trash. Every little thing you tend to now leaves so much more space and time to accomplish every big thing you ever set out to do.
3. We waste our lives dwelling on past failures (and even past accomplishments).
Everyone has a past. And for all people no matter what their past was like whether it was generally good or generally bad, there is some aspect of it that if they had the chance, they would do over. But we don’t have that luxury nor do we have that kind of time. Just imagine how many erasers the entire world would need if we were given the opportunity to erase our past mistakes and failures and do it all over again. We have hindsight to thank for such a missed opportunity. Instead of trying to change everything, we get to change nothing at all.
We are stuck with learning and growing, not erasing and trying to create a perfect version of ourselves. The key to being successful in life is to learn and grow from mistakes, to become a better person from past failures, to improve and not make the same mistake twice. If you have a problem that keeps reoccurring, you may need to check and see if you’ve learned the lesson yet. When you make a mistake, and you will, develop a mindset that aims to leave that mistake right where it is, not to make it again, and not to pull it behind you wherever you go. And when you experience a success, don’t allow it to cloud your ability to pursue other accomplishments.
“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”
— Charles Darwin