This weekend I finished Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, a book by Oliver Burkeman. The premise is that, based on the average life span, you and I will likely have about four thousand weeks of life. Total. And as I’m looking at my life, I’ve got far less in front of me than I do behind me.
What will we do with these weeks?
I am a productivity / time management nerd, self admittedly. I love learning about how to maximize my time, become more efficient, and get more things done. One of my favorite books on this topic is Getting Things Done by David Allen. I’ve recommended that book more times than I can remember since I first read it in 2006. Four Thousand Weeks is similar, but at a different level.
How intentional are we going to be with our four thousand weeks?
Here are some quotes that stood out to me from the book:
“By trying too hard to make the most of his time, he misses his life.”
Are we being present, or are we falling into the trap of “once I get this done, once I get past this project, once I achieve this, THEN I will be able to enjoy and live…”
“Sam Harris notes, ‘Our lives, thanks to their finitude, are inevitably full of activities that we’re doing for the very last time. The last time you pick up your son, visit your childhood home, swim in the ocean, make love, or have a deep conversation with a certain close friend. Yet usually there’ll be no way to know in the moment itself that you’re doing it for the last time. Treat every experience with the reverence you’d show it if it were the final instance of it.”
Mindfulness in the moment, savoring the present.
“When your relationship with time is almost entirely instrumental, the present moment starts to lose its meaning.”
“Psychotherapists call it a ‘second order change,’ meaning that it’s not an incremental improvement but a change in perspective that changes everything. When you finally face the truth that you can’t dictate how fast things go, you stop trying to outrun your anxiety, and your anxiety is transformed.”
“The second order change has occurred: now that you’ve abandoned your futile efforts to dictate the speed at which the experience moves, the real experience can begin.”
We try to control so many things – and accepting what we cannot control is a key to experiencing the moment and understanding the power of being fully present in it. Instead of wishing our lives away, waiting for that day when the problems are all resolved and everything is good, it’s learning to accept that we cannot fully dictate the speed of experiences in our life.
“The average human lifespan is absurdly, terrifyingly short. But that isn’t a reason for unremitting despair, or for living in an anxiety-fueled panic about making the most of your limited time. It’s a cause for relief. You get to give up on something that was always impossible – the quest to become the optimized, infinitely capable, emotionally invincible, fully independent person you’re officially supposed to be. Then you get to roll up your sleeves and start work on what’s gloriously possible instead.”
You cannot be what you’re not designed to be. But don’t let what you cannot do / achieve / be stop you from doing / achieving / being what you can. You are created and designed on purpose, for a purpose. You have limited time, like all of us. What will you determine and choose to do with yours?
My challenge to you is to be intentional. Don’t wake up one day and realize that your four thousand weeks are almost done, and you never chased that dream, had that conversation, pursued that opportunity, or led that charge.
You get today; what are you doing with yours?