Monday, June 11, 2012

The Gift of Time

This week, someone said to me that time is the most precious gift, because you can never get it back, or earn any more of it. It made me think. there probably is no greater gift, for that very reason.

We can learn what we care about by looking at our calendars. Do you have regular date nights with your partner? Do you build in connecting points with your children, whether they are still at home or launched already? Do you make time to catch up with dear friends? With elderly parents or grandparents? For exercise and other self-care? For relaxing and having some time just to recharge?
To meditate, pray, or connect with nature?

A balanced person needs to be able to say "no" to taking on too many commitments, or slow down the part of you (translate: ego) that is flattered to be on that committee for work, or a charity, or your child's school. Ask yourself what else you might lose out on if you add that new responsibility in. The noisy and demanding people sometimes won't let up, and may get an overage of your time and attention. Don't let yourself down, or the quiet, deserving people who are important to you.

Even a little bit of time, singularly focused and not distracted, makes a big difference. When I worked for a large hospital in Orange County over 20 years ago, I was a part of a group of managers who learned how to train the rest of the staff to make contact, sit down, and make a warm, personal impression and give the caring touch. It made an important difference to patient care.

You can turn off the TV and spend the last 20 minutes of your evening talking and holding your partner. Or, you can listen to the news, and all kinds of depressing things. What a choice!  You can turn off the radio in your car and ask your son to update you about his day, and REALLY listen. No lecture, just a caring, listening presence. Every day, we make choices about how we use our time: who gets us and who doesn't. If we don't actively choose, then we may fill it passively with things, people, and television or internet stuff that really doesn't matter.

I challenge you to take a look at the calendar you keep to look at how you are dedicating your time, and who gets your attention. Taking charge of your schedule assertively, and being able to set limits with your time means you can say yes to the people and things that really matter the most to you. In the end, time is all we have. Knowing that it is a finite amount should make us that much more aware of the treasure it is. Spend your week well.

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