Time is an illusion and sometimes that illusion slows us down and even holds us in place.
How is time holding you back?
When Chris Brogan asked me what I wanted to tackle in the next 30-years it smashed my concept of time. I’m 81 and there is a natural tendency to shorten your sights. I had not made any long-term plans, let alone a 30-year plan. Not having a purpose in my life did not feel like a good place to be.
I began looking at what I had accomplished in short periods of my life. Like most people, it took me 12 years to complete a high school education. It took me four years to get a B.A. In 10 years, I had four children, in one year, I got divorced, it took three years to get my M.A. in one moment I decided to move to New York City, in five years I became a licensed spiritual counselor. You get the picture – life-changing decisions can be made in a moment and there is no such thing as time when it comes to fulfilling your dreams.
I spoke about time to a fellow senior in my community. She said, “I’m 88, at the most I have 10 years left.” That’s when I started looking at what was possible to accomplish in various periods of time.
I wrote a workbook in two hours. Yes, it needs editing, rearranging, and rethinking, but it went from nothing to book form in an afternoon.
It takes 7 minutes to run my juicer to make my lunch – tons of good nutrients to keep me healthy,
It takes me 40 or so minutes every day to do my Qi Gong and read what I have chosen to deepen my spiritual awareness.
It takes one second to take a breath that will stop me from interrupting rather than listening.
Do not let the illusion of time stop you from making plans and moving forward.
A small Grand Plan
My Grand Plan, however long I make it for, needs to include things that make me happy.
I want to:
Feel useful (We all need that)
Feel appreciated (We all need that, too)
Learn something new (My mind constantly entertains me)
Understand what I learn and apply the parts that work for me. (I often write to figure out how to absorb the concepts that appeal to me)
Write to a larger audience. (Not for ego, but for impact. I am learning neat stuff I’d like to share.)
Become more mindful. (I practice that a lot each day.)
Allow circumstances to unfold. (I’m such a planner and organizer…)
Become more spiritually aware (I have a lot of contemplative time now and I’m putting it to good use.)
Notice my impact (I am beginning to do some Deeper Song Coaching in my community and it is deeply rewarding. I can see the changes that the people I work with are making
And that’s off the top of my head.
How does that translate into action?
You have to take this next step all by yourself.
Look at the things you LOVE to do
Figure out how you can do them in your life today.
One woman I talked to loved working in a filling station. She loved the men she worked with, she enjoyed the customers, her responsibilities were rewarding. How does she recapture the good part of that into something she could do now?
Another friend loved to train horses. Physically she can no longer do that. How can she recapture that satisfaction in something she could do now?
You may have to learn something new. You may have to repurpose something you already know how to do. You may need a partner to do certain aspects. You must look deeply to find the core of what you love to do and use your imagination and curiosity to translate that into action in your current life?
Find the core of what you love
I’ve completed many self-exploration exercises, and I think there are three over-arching elements to who I am. 1) I am gifted at seeing the over-arching concept, 2) I love to learn and 3) I love to figure out my own process of change. Stop a moment and write down a few things that are at the core of what you love.
Put that core to work in what you do next.
I write and teach to figure things out for myself. I’ve written books, I’ve taught workshops and telecourses, I’ve coached. I’ve designed repeatable systems to help people achieve certain results. In every case, I learned something and owned the topic more deeply. This learn/teach cycle may be what I continue to use in this next reinvention of myself. Yet, I know how to do those things. I don’t want to fall back into an old pattern. I want to look carefully at my gifts and talents and decide how I want to express those in my current life experience. How could I do things differently? What could I do in this next phase of my life that would put me in deeper service in my world? Make a list for yourself. See what appeals and act on it.
I’m dropping what I learned
“Define your target community, figure out what they need, and offer them a solution.” is the advice I learned for marketing my business. I did that when I was coaching, but this next phase is for me. I realized that I’m still in self-service mode. I want to write about what interests me and just hope it interest others. That’s at my current core and what I get to work with. The “Target Community” is me and whoever is energetically and organically attracted to what I produce. My “need” is to deepen my personal spiritual awareness, to figure out how to make positive change for myself and how to be and feel productive for the rest of my life. The solution? I have no clue. I’m at the beginning and because it’s my process, I can only look within for my answers. I’m writing up a storm. I am finding meaningful answers for myself as I do. I am going to complete the current work and publish it. I’m going to go back and finishing books that need to be completed. I have ideas for new writing products. I’m having a great time. I feel stimulated, fulfilled, productive and excited about what I am discovering. My current path of philosophical study and writing provides m with those things for me.
Re-examine how you nourish yourself. How to you educate yourself and what do you study? What excites you? What makes you feel productive? What makes you feel useful and relevant? Examine what old patterns you need to change and which talents and passions still serve you well. Then put them to work.
One of my friends is in the early stages of redefining herself. Her husband is in an Alzheimer’s unit. She has to modify her image as caretaker, guardian, and soul mate and begin to identify who she is as she learns to stand tall by herself. She can have help. She can have friends. However, the lessons are hers to learn. She has to reinvent herself.
I unintentionally redefined myself as an old person. Now I’m working to redefine myself as a seeker and philosopher whose insights help educate, motivate and inspire others to express themselves more deeply, or as I now express it, help them sing a deeper song. What that looks like is a work in progress as I call on my existing skill set, decide what I need to learn next, and organically discover the population I am meant to serve at this point in my life. How will you reinvent yourself? What calls to you next? What will you do in this next cycle of your life?
Live above time
“We will not be happy until we live with nature in the present, above time,” suggests Emerson in Self-Reliance. “Live above time.” I am captivated by the concept. How do I do that? Emerson says nature can guide us. Nature accepts life as it comes. Nature knows only the present moment. If we keep ourselves focused in the present moment there is nothing to worry about, nothing to plan, only an appreciation and acceptance of what surrounds us in the moment. At this moment, I hear the flutter and chatter of birds at the feeders outside my window. I hear the leaves of my birch tree moving very softly against each other. I hear the sound of my fingers typing on the keyboard of my computer. I am aware of my body and my thoughts. There is no time here. There is no planning. There is no end in sight. There is only this moment and it is above time.
Time is an illusion
Do not let the concept of years stop your forward progress. Stop wherever you are and take time to know yourself better, to see what you want and need right now. Most of all, look at how you want to make a difference, today, tomorrow, and for some unknown large chuck of future time. 0pportunities abound. You only have to identify them and choose. What is your choice today? How will you deepen your contribution to your world? What can you do to feel more relevant? How will you redefine yourself?