Time to take time

Take time to smell the roses. It’s a phrase I often use and even when I lived on the California coast I would post on my social media “Take time to smell the ocean.”  It’s not about the ocean or the roses, of course. It’s about living in the moment and taking in all that is happening around you at any given time and really appreciating it.

Life is short. Time is valuable. You’ve heard these phrases too.  At the end of the day it’s not going be your job or employer that you remember the most. You’re not going to think fondly back on the weekend you had to work, that meeting that runs over into lunch, or that project you spent so many hours focused on. You’re not going to wish you had stayed late, missing out on a birthday, ball game or dinner with your family.  The fact of the matter is that we all find out too late in life that what matters most is to live it.

Yet we constantly get caught up just building the resume for our career and not focused on the resume for the rest of our life. What about those goals? (Or as some people call them your “bucket list”).  Life isn’t about climbing the ladder at work. Instead it’s climbing the ladder to see the sunrise. Climbing the mountain to watch the sunset.  Climbing the stairs to tuck your child into bed.

It often takes a major change for a person to break the cycle of making work, money or possessions the main focus. It usually comes in the form of a layoff, accident, sickness, or worse – the death of someone close to you.  At those times, we take a step back and realize how precious time can be. Talk with anyone who has lost someone in an accident or had a loved one with a terminal illness, they will all say they wish they had more time. Not more money, just time. Not more things, just time. We don’t think of it often, but we all live with an expiration date and while part of me wishes I knew my end date, I also think I could be too focused on it. It’s like when you go on a vacation and instead of enjoying your time away on the vacation, you spend the time dreading the last day. You want more time but aren’t appreciating the time you have.

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We waste time.

Even in my mid 40’s I can look back and think about my life. Most of it was wonderful and I wouldn’t change a thing.  But when I found out I had cancer a few years ago, I also thought about all the wasted time I had spent on things that didn’t matter….things like what would I wear to a party, the hours spent formatting and reformatting presentations, time spent at work dinners, the hours I worked late or came in early to the office.

So what are you doing with your time? Are you focusing on the trivial things in life? Are you looking ahead at your agenda for the future and forgetting to enjoy what’s happening today?

The other day I was walking on the outskirts of town on an evening stroll. The sun was setting, the breeze was still warm, the rocks on the path were crunching under each step, and the Montana air smelled of a combination of fresh grass and sagebrush.  As I chatted with a loved one who was walking with me, I thought to myself that I am so blessed to have this time.

It’s time to take time.

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