2013, and there is was…gone!
Posted at 21:47:47 by Jacky Leonard
"Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such." - Henry Miller
Is it me, or did last year speed by quicker than usual? At the end of 2013, I almost thought I’d blinked and missed what was actually quite a significant milestone year for me. So to check I hadn’t slept through most of it, I sat down with my diary and looked back over the year. It was only then I realised I’d managed to cram quite a lot in during my 50th year on the planet.
In typical learning and development fashion my thoughts soon turned to…what can, or did I learn from it all that I can share, which will be useful for me and may even be helpful for you. So here goes, call them reflections, resolutions or realisations and take from them what you will.
1. Time flies
It’s one of your most precious resources. When it’s gone, it’s gone; spend it wisely on those things that are most important to you, or lose it on the ‘sand’ of life. (Read the story at the end of this Blog for more details on the ‘sand’). As the years pass I am more acutely aware of the important stuff and how this is not a rehearsal.
2. Life-long learning
I’m a big advocate for life-long learning. Once you stop learning, you stop experiencing all that life has to offer. There are many ways to gain new knowledge, skills and capabilities; I’m going to mention just one here. Self-reflection! It can be a surprising, enlightening and painful process; although in my opinion always a worthwhile one. Use a little of your precious time to reflect and learn from your actions, inactions and mistakes and decide how you will use that new knowledge to improve your world. However, try not to spend too much time in the past or the future. As the old adage says, there is no time like the present; it really is a gift so enjoy each moment here and now!
3. Appreciate your world
Have an attitude of gratitude for your world and everything and everyone in it. It’s easy to start taking people for granted and judging them too harshly, particularly if they are close to you. Instead, start noticing the good in people, the wonder in things and the beauty on this planet. Embrace and celebrate diversity and uniqueness wherever you find it. Try to view the world through a child’s eyes occasionally; I promise, you’ll get a whole new perspective and see things in a very different light. You may experience less cynicism, prejudice and complacency and more wonder, anticipation and kindness. When you find yourself judging others, just remember it’s easy to project your inadequacies onto others. Stop and check it’s not your own shortcomings you’re judging, reflected in them.
4. Laugh out Loud
I joined Facebook a couple of years ago and nearly closed my account because of the privacy issues and bad press. I then realised the posts contributed positively to my day. Some made me think, smile…and often laugh out loud. Any medium that does that can’t be all bad. Apparently laughter is the best medicine and it’s free and easy! I think it’s particularly healthy if you can laugh at yourself. I can be intense, but I’ve learned it’s OK to act your shoe size sometimes…and I do!
5. Keep your promises
Do you find it easier to keep the promises and commitments you make to others, than the ones you make to yourself? I know I can be guilty of that. You can’t truly respect others unless you have a healthy liking for yourself. Be kind to yourself first. You have to believe you’re worth the same respect, time and effort you afford others.
6. Be your best self
Whatever that means to you, be it, do it, feel it…you deserve it!
Believe in your dreams and take daily action to make them a reality.
There is one final point, based on the story I briefly mentioned earlier. I saw it on a friend’s Facebook feed recently and thought how well it encapsulated all that’s important in life. It will be one I read time and time again whenever I need perspective.
7. Remember the Golf Balls
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large, empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’
The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things - your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions, and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else - the small stuff.
‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.
If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are most important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn. Take care of the golf balls first, those things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.’
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked. The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.’
As you begin 2014, keep track of what’s important to you…hold on to those golf balls!