Which way to go?

The choice is easy, because there’s only one way we can: forwards.

Wraping around the side? That’s moving forward. Doubling back? You’re moving forwards. Staying exactly where you are and waiting out the storm? That’s forwards too.

We can only move through time in one direction. All other movement is secondary, and will soon be beside the point.

We each have only two things, which we share equally: this moment in time, and the next.

There’s no such thing as making up lost time because we don’t lose time, we spend it.

Just because we spent in poorly, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t ours to spend.

Making up lost time is just scrambling to get done what you didn’t get done when you were supposed to.

Struggling through an all nighter to meet a deadline or pushing your body to the limit to squeeze out one last burst of speed at the end of a race are not signs of strength.

There’s no heroism there. It’s just poor management.

Live the present moment as fully prepared for the next as you can.

Time lost is irrelevant. Focus on siezing the time still ahead of you.

“Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”

James Clear

People say you are what you eat, but I’m more inclined to believe you are what you do.

Make good food decisions, you’ll be a healthy eater.

Juggle every day, you’ll be a juggler.

In many ways, we are all of the things we’re performing in each moment.

Which is why it’s so important to optimise yourself in the immediate term.

Long-term goals are great, but they have no relevance to who you actually are outside of the effect that have on focussing your immediate goals.

Dreams are so fun to imagine because they skip all work required to realise them and get right to the reward.

For them to come true, a through line must be forged which connect the dream to the now.

People who lose sight of this live in a world of constant inaction with distant goals which will sadly never eventuate.

Every action, every second, is a vote for the person you’ll become.

Vote wisely.

Being the kind of person who always runs late is a bad habit to have, and an even worse reputation.

Running perpetually just on time might be an even worse habit.

You get the gratification of feeling on top of things, even when you’re not.

I’m guilty of this all the time. Arriving to a 12pm meeting at 11:58am is not showing up early.

Neither is posting a blog post at 11:58pm, but here we are.

When we don’t allow ourselves enough time to do our work with care, our work suffers.

On time isn’t good enough. We owe eachother better.

The reason lottery winners wind up depressed is that our happiness depends not on what we have, but what we have in relation to what we’re accustomed to.

It’s why a getting a NutriBullet is so exciting… for about three weeks.

Once having a nice blender is something you’re accustomed to though, you’re far less likely to actually enjoy using it.

Image result for nutri bullet
Photo: Michael Hession

The shine on 20 million dollars lasts a little longer, but the novelty of driving an Mercedes wears off just like the novelty of blending spinach seamlessly into smoothies.

This isn’t the same at the bottom end of the financial scale.

Not having enough to get by is horrendously taxing on one’s happiness.

Once your basic needs are met, satisfaction lives in the process.

Setting big goals is less about achieving them than it is about the happiness we enjoy taking strides toward them.

Lean the instrument, write the book, make the ruckus, or play the sport because the pursuit itself delights you.

Our attention is even more valuable than our time, and we trade it every day.

We live in an attention economy.

Businesses bid for it constantly. On billboards, backs of busses, and through buzzes in your pocket.

How frugal we are with our attention influences every aspect of our lives.

Where can you see your attention seeping through the gaps of things which don’t matter?

Good time management means nothing without good attention management.

Fail to focus your attention, and all that time you saved is waste.

Now’s the time to stocktake and trim the fat.

I’ve never been a fast reader.

In fact, unless it’s an exceptional book, my attention span struggles to with written text. As most of the books I ‘read’ are audiobooks, reading quickly is just never a skill I’d invested in.

This was until a few days ago, when I stumbled across a ten minute Tim Ferris video which changed the game.

I’ve been trying out the techniques he describes for a few days, and I can’t believe nobody taught me how to do this sooner.

The tip which blew my mind has to do with taking advantage of your peripheral vision.

When we were first learning to read, we had to focus intently on the letters which made up each word. As we did this, our eyes were trained to jump from word to word as we read across the page.

Unfortunately, most of us didn’t adapt our reading style once we started to recognise words without needing to break them down letter by letter.

Now we can!

By progressively indenting your focal points further into the centre of the page, you can eventually end up only needing to focus on the central third of a chunk of text, as your peripherals allow you to read the first and last third of the page without needing to direct your focus away from the centre.

Never before had I considered that I could read words in my periphery.

I understand how strange this sounds, and I’ll admit that it does feel weird for the first few pages.

But once you adjust, you’ll find it hard to go back. My reading speed has more than doubled in less than a week.

There are a couple of other techniques to add to this one in the video below, which I highly recommend checking it out.

It’ll take ten minutes of your time, but has already saved me hours.

I like to listen.
I have learned a great deal from listening carefully.

Most people never listen.

Ernest Hemingway

Our ability to listen informs our ability to learn, grow, and thrive.

The type of listening Hemingway notes here; active, careful listening, involves more than hearing and interpreting words.

Listening is how we process feedback, and not all feedback is proceesed by your ears.

You listen to your body when it’s thirsty and to the road through the touch of your steering wheel just as you would listen to a loved one tell you about their day.

Listening is how we interpret information; turning the inputs of our world into understandings we can act upon.

The world and the people we share it with present a near limitless array of potential inputs.

Advertisers alone ensure that we consume tens of thousands every day.

Where you decide to apply your attention will determine which of those inputs shape you, your thoughts and your wellbeing.

In a world so saturated by inputs fighting for the precious space in your mind, listening carefully is the only way to register some of the most important inputs which would otherwise be lost to our periphery;

The way a troubled friend sighs as they tell you they’re ‘fine’.

The way your little cousin taps their foot when he fibs.

Or the split second raise in the smile of your partner when you tell a bad joke they don’t want to laugh at.

If we’re not mindful, these things, the richest parts of our existence, might pass us by.

Careful listening = Paying generous attention

In this way, your attention is even more valuable than your time.

Invest it poorly, and you risk leading a meaningless existence. You could live for a millennia this way and get less out of life than someone who invested well for just a year.

Invest your attention with generosity, empathy, and joy. Succeed in this, and you’ll find it hard to life miserably.

Investing wisely requires you to share your attention only with people who matter, and to share it fully.

When these people share their own attention in return, cherish it. It’s a beautiful gift to receive.

Perhaps most importantly, beware the vices of those who are more interested in leeching your attention than sharing it with you.

Sadly, as Hemingway notes, this is most people.

Listen, pay generous attention, and encourage those around you to do the same.

But if they prove unable, walk away.

We can’t afford to spread our most valuable asset too thin.

You don’t have enough to waste on those with those unwilling to invest their own wisely beside you.