Is your day running out and you are behind?

Day running out and you still have a lot to do. There just does not seem like there is enough time in the day to do everything that needs to be done. How often does it seem like your day just runs out and you have not accomplished anything? I begin some days with great intentions to work, exercise, write, get some chores done or start a new project. Something interrupts my momentum and it can be all down hill from there. A friend calls unexpectedly. I run out of something and have to go to the store to find a replacement. The car breaks down. The weather is good, bad or terrible. There are a million things that can turn the best plans into rubbish. I started off on the right foot, but the left foot never hit the ground.

Some days my momentum never gets off the ground. I don’t even seem to start off on the right foot. I have all of these good intentions but I just do not have the energy. Perhaps life seems overwhelming or I feel depressed or I ate too much the day before. I want to crawl into a hole and hide. I feel like a failure and the day has not even started. I need to get kick started. I need a coach or something to get me motivated. As my day begins to run out, I may try to put on a last minute burst of work to get some things done, or I might just say the heck with it. I will do it tomorrow.

Maybe, how we feel at the beginning of the day is life sending us a message. “Take it easy today; you have been stressing yourself out too much.” “Get in gear, you are full of energy and today is a great day to get things done.” We need to allow life to talk to us and to follow our more natural rhythms of ups and downs. Not every day is a barn burner or “I just climbed Mt. Everest day.” Allow a cycle of work, play and rest to become part of your life. Maybe we would all live longer and enjoy life more if we had more “down” days.

Does your life seem to follow natural cycles of play, rest and work? How do you think your life would be if it did? What would you have to change to create a more natural cycle time in your life? When was the last time you had a day just running out and you really did not care?

Can you make time run up instead of out?

Is Time running up or is time running down? Yes, we usually hear the phrase “time is running down”, but what if time were running up? It’s hard to conceive of the idea since we are all so conditioned to think of time as only running one way. We use up time which causes us to think of it as running out or down. But think of time as a substance. For instance, if time were like water, you could fill a cup up with it. You could pour time into the cup. Instead of time running out, you have time running in. The problem would seem to be to find a faucet from which to refill your cup with time.

If time and money are interchangeable then we should be able to amass time. Just as a bank account could grow, so should a time account be able to grow. What if today instead of turning 60, I turned 59. Impossible you say. However, what if I turned back the clock by stopping smoking? What if I stopped drinking and started exercising? What if I gave up some unhealthy actions, overcame cancer, stopped speeding, reduced stress, moved to a safer neighborhood? If I did any of these actions, I could literally refill my life with extra time. Time would then be running up for me. The more healthy actions I take, the more my time would run up. If you do not believe this is possible, look at insurance charts that denote lifespan and longevity. On the average, the less health risks you have, the longer you will live. Thus, eliminate each health risk and you will refill your cup with more time for living. Not only will you have more time for living, but it will be higher quality time as you will be healthier and happier.

Have you ever seen anyone that suddenly looked younger instead of older? How many people do you know that have time running up for them? Which way is your time going? What could you do to put some time back into your cup? Maybe it will never run over, but it is possible to fill it up a little bit every so often. What one action could you take today to refill your cup of time?

What symbols of time have meaning to you?

Time can and often is represented by a symbol or object. Some of the more notable symbols include: pendulums, the New Year’s baby, count down music, sun dials, rust, cobwebs, dust, the Grim Reaper, tarot cards, astrology signs, old shoes, antiques, and there are many more. These symbols or objects have all become associated with the passage of time for various reasons. The Grim Reaper represents death while the New Year’s baby represents birth. Rust and cobwebs both represent something old. Count down music, sun dials and hour glasses represent the passage of time. Each object has a history and its own association with time. Merely seeing one of these objects creates a myriad of associations within our minds as to time and its relevance to our lives.

Perhaps one of our most familiar and lovable associations lies in our fascination with antiques. Some people love antiques simply because they are old. In the original Star Trek series, Captain Kirk loved old books. This perplexed Lt. Spock since he felt that e-readers and the computer reader were much more practical. Spock could not fathom the need to associate with a symbol of the past. Most antiques represent some type of emotional association for us. The old desk that was just like our grandfathers desk. The egg beater that was just like the one our mom used to make us pancakes with every Sunday morning after church. Antiques remind us of the past and of our own transience in the present. They bring the past to life and help us to live it over and over again. Our Grandfather and mom can live on in the antiques we surround ourselves with. Symbols have meaning in the present due to the emotional attachments they help to recreate.

What are some symbols of time that are important to you? What symbols help you connect to your past? What are some antiques that you must dearly love? What meaning and emotions do these have for you? Why? Do you value old things more or new? Why? What if there were no antiques in the world?

Can we stop killing each other?

It’s killing time! The papers are full of it. You can hardly pick up a newspaper or listen to the TV without hearing of another murder or atrocity. Each day seems to bring fresh carnage. Each instance is more unbelievable then the last. It seems there is no end to the mayhem that can be perpetrated on our fellow human beings.

For too many of us, life seems to hold little value. We have all seen the headlines, wherein some stranger kills someone for a few dollars or even for “no” dollars. Two suspects in a string of murders in Arizona were reported to have described their acts as: “random recreational violence.” We no longer need motives for killing people.

Are you appalled by such a thought as “random recreational violence? How long before we become accustomed to such killings and simply take them for granted? There are over 50, 000 highway deaths every year in the USA, but we hardly lose a minute of sleep over them unless it is someone we know. The rest of the deaths we simply chalk up to the price of living in an advanced industrial economy. Will we get to the point where “random recreational violence” is seen as the cost of living in the twenty first century? Will be become so jaded, that we simply turn the page or go to sleep without another thought as to the victims? God forbid it! God forbid it!

But what can you do? What can we do? You might wish to become a vigilante but that would not really solve anything. Is there a solution? Why does crime seem to keep intensifying? What can we personally do to stop the killing time? The simple answer lies in the personal actions that we can all take to avoid violence and harm.

Do you support peace? Do you oppose capital punishment? Do you oppose death to all people? Do you support charities that promote peace work? Do you believe that all killing is wrong? Do you look for other solutions to promote peace in the world? Can you find a charity now that supports some peace work and either get on their mailing list or send them some money? What if everyone in the world really supported peace and non-violence? You are either part of the problem or part of the solution. There can be no in between.

Why not wind the clock up again?

“You can’t turn back the clock, but you can wind it up again” (Bonnie Prudden). This is a very profound and optimistic thought. We may not be able to change some things we have done, but we can start over again. I have not always been the easiest person to get along with. My first marriage was often a rocky road and my second marriage has not been without its blemishes. However, the second one is working much better. I think there are several reasons for this, but maturity and experience have contributed a great deal to its success. We have learned many different techniques which have helped us to deal better with the rocks in the road. Sometimes when Karen and I get into an argument, we say to each other “Can we start over again?” This little phrase has helped us deal with many difficulties. It does not always immediately end our argument, but it always gives us a sense that we are willing to try again with a new approach. We both appreciate the chance to wind the clock up again.

Life is full of many difficulties. We cannot always avoid the problems that come our way. If we were all omniscient, we might be able to plan our lives to avoid making any mistakes, but none of us are omniscient. However, we can all start over again. We all have the power to wind the clock back up. We can face life each day and start anew. It is a choice open to all of us. You may want to ask forgiveness of god, yourself or others if this helps you but it is not a requirement for starting over. The only requirement is that you do not want your life to continue on its present path. You want to find a new direction to travel. Only by constantly winding the clock up again can we all find the directions that will lead us to a more promising future.

What in your life needs a new approach? Where can you wind the clock up again? What do you want to stop doing that has not been helpful in your life? Einstein said that a “definition of craziness was to keep doing the same thing and expect different results”. What are you being “crazy” over? Can you stop doing this and wind the clock up again?

What does May mean to you?

May, in many parts of the world, May Day is a day to celebrate. In some countries, it recognizes the role of labor and the worker. Elsewhere, it is an opportunity to dance around the Maypole. A dance some see as celebrating spring and the nearness of summer. Others speculate the origins of the dance stem from ancient pagan fertility rites. Maypole dancing was described by the Puritans as ‘a heathenish vanity’ and was accordingly banned. (Wikipedia). Today, you can dance all you want and not have to worry about being burned at the stake as a “heathen.” Isn’t progress wonderful?

In the USA, Memorial Day (usually at the end of May) celebrates the sacrifices of our soldiers and veterans to help keep America and the world safe. Many simply see the end of May as the beginning of summer. It is a time when beaches, parks and outdoor venues open their gates. Students see May as the “end” of school; a time to graduate, look for a real job and of course attend graduation or prom parties. Have you noticed how graduation now seems a much bigger deal than it did years ago? High School kids have elaborate graduation parties, rent tuxes, gowns and limousines and go to places I could not afford until I was in my forties. Time keeps marching on and customs all over the world keep changing.

What customs do you have in your life? How have they changed over the years? Were the changes for the better or worse? What is special about May for you?

What is a New York minute?

A New York minute is an interesting term. A New York minute is a fast, frantic, in-year-face, speedy and harried measure of time. It is the opposite of the stereotypical Southern minute where time is slow and unhurried. Years ago, if you had been to Alabama and New York, you would have seen the difference in time immediately. Of course, today everyplace is changing and (I fear) there has been an exorable move towards the NY standard. I am from New York and despite having lived in the Midwest for over thirty years; I still get accused of being on New York time. Probably because I do almost everything fast and have been multi-tasking before the word was coined. In my own mind, I have slowed down considerably from when I was an “East Coaster” and I enjoy the Midwest because things (at least when I first arrived) seemed slower and mellower out here. Perhaps, it has to do with the farm cycle versus the industrial cycle.

It is interesting that we allow time zones to measure our time but we don’t use “specific place” zones, except in slang. For instance, how would a Minneapolis minute compare to a San Francisco minute or a New England minute? Today, they might all be about the same. Thus, the term a NY minute is slowly passing out of use as we all become mini New Yorkers. However, there are still places in the world that are not on NY time and perhaps you will get to visit one someday. Even in parts of the US, there are places where the culture is not vested in moving fast. One can take a trip to the Boundary Waters in Northern Minnesota or up Lake Chelan in Washington to Holden Village. At these places, the emphasis is not on how many things you can get done or how much you can accomplish in 24 hours. There is a totally different emphasis.
In the Boundary Waters, you smell the flowers and you live according to paddle time or fishing time. At Holden Village, the emphasis is on spirituality and finding your true center of being. At both places, you forget time and you begin to live by the more ancient cycles of the sun, moon and stars. I have been to both of these places and I want to go back someday. The peace and serenity you find at each is truly beyond description.

Have you ever been to New York? Where would you like to go that is not on NY time? How do you expect time would be for you there? What if time was like that for you right here and now? What if in your own residence, you could set your own time standards? What would they be? Would you slow your life down or speed it up? What do you think a good measure of a life well lived would be?

What does it mean to be on time?

“The World on Time” is the FedEx vision. What is FedEx’s success rate at being on time? I have found various figures, but even if they hit 99 percent, with 10 million plus packages delivered daily, that means that 100,000 packages are late each day. However, who defines FedEx’s on-time rate? Probably not the same people who work for delivery companies. I seldom seem to ever get anything delivered when I want it. I call up delivery people to have something delivered and the usual refrain I hear is something like: “We can be there between 8-12 or 12-5.” Thus, telling me that because they cannot be more specific as to their delivery time, I will have to waste ½ of a day waiting for them. I would love to find someone who would say “We will be there between 12 and 1.” In our time obsessed world, is the best anyone can do a four hour time slot? Can you imagine if movies or concerts worked on a four hour time slot or a 99 percent rate of starting on time? We would have a lot of unhappy people.

How many of us would love to have the world be on time? Of course, what we want most is for the world to be on “our” time. Few of us really like to be on someone else’s time. Being on time primarily depends on who defines the time. A few years ago Northwest Airlines had a perfect rate for on time departures. In practice, they would simply pull away from the gate, park the plane and call this an “on time” departure. While being on time might seem like an objective reality, it can depend to a large extent on how “on time” is defined. I know people who define being on time as coming anywhere from one hour late to two hours late for an appointment.

What is your ideal vision of being on time? Are you continually frustrated by late people, late deliveries and late arrivals? Would you be happier if the world was more on time? What if it were the other way around? What if no one cared about being on time? Would you be happier if the world was more relaxed about time? Do you think we can have it both ways? How could we go about doing that?

When was the last time you were right on time?

Right on time! This phrase could be seen as a compliment. I would guess most of us would take it that way. Another way of looking at it might be to say, you were correct or exactly on the time we agreed on. Whatever way you look at it, most of us appreciate it when someone is “right on time.” Generally we reply to a compliment with a “thank you.” However, few people ever seem to answer: “thank you” to someone who is on time. I wonder why we don’t seem to recognize people who are complimenting us for being on time? Do we simply expect people to be on time? Therefore, it is not really worth a real compliment.

If you think about it, being on time is not such a common phenomenon. In fact, if you think about it, it is not very common at all. How many times each week have you gone to a meeting that started late or that several people showed up late for? How many events that you showed up for on time started late? I have often seen them delay a plane take off because a bunch of people were arriving late. Of course, I feel bad for the people who might miss their flight but I am also concerned over my connections and missing my departure schedules. You are sitting on the plane wondering how long they will wait for the late comers.

Being on time is not a natural state of affairs. People who are on time have to work at it. It is not easy to be on time. A great deal of effort, responsibility and planning are needed to be “right on time.” Any time someone does something that makes your life more pleasant, isn’t it worth a compliment? When people show up on time, it makes my life easier and more pleasant. No one today has a great deal of time to waste just sitting around waiting for someone who is irresponsible and thoughtless. Yes, sometimes accidents happen. However, have you ever noticed that they always seem to happen to the same people? The same people are late over and over again. Thus, maybe we syould compliment those people who work at being on time.

What if you started thanking the people in your life who were right on time? How would they react? Would they feel more appreciated? Would you like to be more appreciated for the effort you make to be right on time? Would being acknowledged for or acknowledging the effort by others to be right on time make any difference in your friendships or in your life?

Are you a long or short-term thinker?

A common refrain in many organizations is “Always time to do it over, never time to do it right.” How often have you seen this in your company? When I was consulting, it was one of the most popular problems we dealt with. I would repeatedly hear employees use these words to describe how things were done in their workplace. It was no wonder that American quality fell behind that of the Japanese during the eighties. We became a country where we did little or no long term thinking or planning. Our planning horizon was sixteen weeks. This is the length of time between quarterly reports. Our goal was firmly fixed on the corporate stock price. Could we have a more fickle or less worthwhile target? We are so busy doing things short term that we find it easier to fix the problems this creates rather than thinking things through and avoiding the problems in the first place. We ignore the old admonition that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

When I look back to the date I started consulting (September 1986), I ask myself, “Have we changed?” As a nation and as a people, are we looking any more long-term? Have we moved away from simplistic measures of success? Are we looking at more forward thinking or are we still primarily reacting to changes? What about personally? Do you think long-term or are you primarily always reacting to short-term crisis? Do you plan for the future or are you focused simply on what problems and troubles today will bring? What role does long-term thinking play in your life? What would your answers to these questions be?

I would love to hear your answers to these questions. If you care to, send your replies to me at or post your comments.

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