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Stop “Spending” Time and Start Investing It Instead

We tend to think of ordinary days as expendable. The truth is that each one is precious because it will never happen again.

Our lives rush forward like river rapids and it’s easy to let days, weeks and years flow by in “default” mode. We react to what comes up right in front of us rather than proactively creating what we really want. We stick to our routines, even if we’re not particu­larly happy with them. We stay in soul-sucking jobs. We spend down time binge watching mediocre TV and falling down the internet rabbit hole. And, the days go by. . .

It’s Never Too Late to Wake Up

When it became very clear that my 89-year-old grandmother had only days left to live, I had one of those life-altering epiphanies. The reality hit that I, too, have a set number of days. Far from depressing or alarming, this insight woke me up. It inspired me to stop treating a normal day with all the excitement of finding a penny on the side­walk.

With the higher stakes of the acknowledged limit of my days on earth comes a greater sense of fearless­ness and freedom. Who cares what other people think? So what if I fall flat on my face? What have I always wanted to do? What do I want to stop doing? Ask yourself, am I “spending” my one precious life in a way that has meaning and brings me joy? Spend is the operative word here.

Time is the Ultimate Currency

Like our money, our time is ours to waste, spend or invest. And, like our money, we can purposefully invest our time to increase our ROJ (return on joy). Where you invest your time depends on what’s most important to you:

  • Invest in Happiness—You owe it to yourself to do more of the things that you love doing. What do you enjoy doing but don’t do often enough? What new things are you itching to try? Having adventures and doing things just for the fun of it have a direct positive effect on your outlook and mood. See my post Get Serious About Fun for some practical steps to invest in your own happiness.
  • Invest in Wellness—Investing in your mental, emotional and physical health pays life-long dividends. Exercising, eating a healthy diet and taking time for quiet reflection and meditation are all proven strategies to increase the length and quality of your life. So is self-care—proactively nurturing yourself with things that you enjoy and that feel good such as massage, hot baths, a good book, walks in nature or whatever nurtures your sense of wellbeing.
  • Invest in Relationships—We are wired for connection with other humans. In the end, your relationships with people are the most important factor in your wellbeing. Investing time in relationships strengthens and deepens them. Any type of contact counts but a call or visit is more impactful and satisfying than a Facebook post. And, don’t discount casual encounters with strangers—showing up as friendly and kind throughout your day-to-day activities can create nice micro connections that make your day.
  • Invest in Giving Back—Whether you bring food to a sick friend or lend a hand to a good cause, giving back is beneficial—and not just for the recipients. Volunteering strengthens communities, brings people together and provides you with valuable experience and insight A Gallup survey found that most volunteers do it because they like the feeling of helping others. Time helping others illuminates your own life.
  • Invest in Your Dreams—If your life was exactly the way you wanted it, what would it look like? It’s worth thinking about what you want for yourself and then making a proactive plan to get it. Whether it’s planning a dream vacation, learning to paint, starting your own business or writing a book, you can do it. You just need to make a plan and start. See my post Goal Setting from the H.E.A.R.T. for suggestions.

Now, when you get up in the morning, say to yourself, “This is one of my precious days!” and purposefully inhabit your “today” even as you go af­ter your dreams for tomorrow. Your life deserves your focus and intention.

Deb Purdy, is a transformation coach, speaker, workshop leader and author of
Something Gained: 7 Shifts to Be Stronger, Smarter and Happier After Divorce.

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