Human beings seem to be obsessed with time. Our lives are the summation of various milestones. We’re successful if we hit these milestones “on time” and if we don’t, we are unsuccessful. At the point of conception, the importance of reaching a particular stage by a particular time is stressed. First trimester, second trimester, final trimester. Then after birth, it’s about when will the baby lift his own head, when will he take his first steps, when will say his first words. And as we get older the importance of time just increases. We reach a stage where we think time is always running out.
The other day I came across this quote attributed to Bill Gates. It goes, “Most people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” This quote really resonated with me. I think it’s such an accurate description of our mentality. We seem to be all about accomplishing as much as possible in as little time as possible. You know when a woman’s “biological clock” is ticking and she’s desperately trying to figure out how, when and with whom to have a child, well, that’s how we are behaving nowadays. A clock within us is ticking away and we feel the need to get a lifetime worth of things done in a matter of a few years.
I need to be a millionaire by 25, get married by 30, have kids by 32 and then retire on my private island by age 40. Now, I’m not saying this is impossible nor am I saying to not set high goals for ourselves. But at the same time, in setting these goals, and working toward them, we have to realise that sometimes things take longer than we planned. And I know they say life is short and it is, but, we have time. Somewhere along the line 40 became the new 60 and suddenly we need to get everything done before we turn the big 40 because apparently after 40 we become incapable of doing anything.
Society seems to be all about the fast life- you take a picture and share it instantly, you have a thought and tweet it, get rich fast, instant gratification, no patience. The concept of taking our time is lost. We start to judge our lives based on what we have achieved at certain milestone years- 20, 25, 30. We reflect on our lives or even just the past year and feel defeated because it seems like we haven’t made any giant step forward toward our end goal. We try to do so much in a year and when we don’t accomplish everything on our list, we sit depressed on Ole Years Night and drink our sorrows away and promise to get the same things done and more the next year.
Maybe we would be more successful and happier if we just take our time sometimes. Yes, set your monthly targets or yearly goals. Make the list as extensive as you can and work diligently toward it. But sometimes, take a step back and smell the roses, regroup and refocus. A retreat can usually fix a lot. Realise that not everything on your list you can accomplish but acknowledge the progress you’ve made. Sometimes we can be so hard on ourselves and have an all or nothing mentality when it comes to goals. I didn’t achieve every single thing I wanted within the time I wanted, therefore I have failed. Whereas, if we relax and actually see how far we’ve come, we might realise that we just have a little way to go again before we achieve what we set out to do.
I am not endorsing laziness nor am I advocating for a “sit back, do nothing and go with the flow” mentality. I just want you to realise that while it’s good to want to achieve a lot, we are not going to do everything we want to on our own time. We are but mere mortals. There will be set backs, there will be bumps in the road. That’s just life. But just because we’re not getting these things done within the time we wanted, doesn’t mean we won’t get them done at all. Now this doesn’t apply to deadlines at school or work, I’m talking about bigger life goals you set for yourself, so please hand in your assignments on time. Things take time and we need to have patience. We can’t continue running around maniacally like the white rabbit fretting about the fact that we’re late.