“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” ~Diane Ackerman
Wow! My last weeks of my career. Though many days and weeks over the last thirty-four years have seemed to last forever, it truly is astonishing how fast time goes. And don’t we often try to make it go even faster?
Our jobs are stressful. We are often under tight time constraints and deadlines. We have clients and associates who want and need things yesterday.
We work in jobs we have very little control over. Add that to our daily responsibilities as parents, spouses, partners, friends, children to aging parents and—not to be forgotten—ourselves. It’s a lot.
Maybe you are like me. When I was younger, I too often:
- wanted to fast-forward to a new day, a new week, or a new season of life
- wished time away
- focused on that vacation that was months away
- couldn’t wait until my kids were older
- had my eye on that next job
- sought to get through tough circumstances I was facing, or
- desired to be where someone else was in life
What did it cost me? Memories and opportunities. I don’t remember many details of when my kids were growing up because I was always thinking ahead. I was not in the moment.
I missed opportunities to learn and grow because I was always focused on that next thing instead of learning what could help me in that next thing.
I missed all the beauty this earth has to offer because I was driving too fast.
It cost me time. I wished away something I can never get back. It cost me the fun of simply living life, my life.
It has taken me sixty-five years on earth to figure out how to make every moment count. And, if I’m honest, it’s something I must work at every day.
“Don’t focus on making each moment perfect, focus on the perfection each moment provides, be it a good one, or not so good one.” ~Jenna Kutcher
Notice that I didn’t say “make every moment happy, productive, or memorable.” Just make it count. Be in it. Live it.
There are many moments that aren’t happy. In fact, they can be downright sorrowful or exhausting. But, at the same time, they help shape you and enable you to grow.
I missed many good moments in my life because I was too focused on making the ending happy or perfect to enjoy what was happening right before my eyes.
A few years ago, my son and I met up with a good friend of mine. We started talking about our kids and what fun it was to go to all of their events when they were younger. I was pounding my chest by bragging about being at all of their events.
My son, to his credit, challenged me. He said I was there physically, but I wasn’t really there. He told my friend I was always on my phone, or otherwise preoccupied. He was right. I was there but I can’t tell you about the goals they scored, the amazing moves they made, or the songs they sang. It was like a dagger went through my heart. But it was true.
My dear friend Doug told me a great way he is trying to live right now. He said, “stay in the right lane.” I love that. We often want to get somewhere fast, so we pull into the left lane and zoom past everything to get to the destination.
I did that most of my life, in all areas of my life. As I start to live in the right lane, I am having an easier time being more in the moment. I am being intentional.
I start my day with a routine of praying, journaling, exercising, and setting my focus to not be on one or two things, but to be awed by the wonder of what I might encounter. I intentionally set aside days where I do not have a set schedule.
As I am more in the moment, I am experiencing all sorts of beauty, joy, amazement, clarity, purposefulness, happiness, and opportunity.
When you look at my photo library, you will see mostly pictures of bugs, birds, flowers, and trees from my walks. My mind has space to be creative and I am finding clarity on the things I want to do in this season of life, for me. My relationships are flourishing because I am actually there, truly experiencing another person.
Being present has also allowed me to see myself for more of who I am. I have often said I never felt I was good enough. I felt I had to do more in order to be enough. Now that I have more clarity on who I am, I want to do more, because I am enough. I realize that no matter what I do from here on out, I am good enough. Because of who I am, not what I do.
Many have asked what I will do in retirement. Like, retirement is the end, so how will you live to the end? I am looking at it more as a transition into the next leg of my journey.
I am going to continue to live in the right lane, enjoy every moment, create and experience new moments, and focus on the journey itself, not the destination. I plan to live as Laurie Santos puts it, “be happy in my life, and with my life.”
“The most dangerous risk of all…is the risk of spending your life not doing what you want, on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” ~Randy Komisar
So how do you do that? It isn’t always easy.
Have good self-awareness (know yourself and trust yourself). Be intentional. Make time for the people and things that matter. Make the time to think about what you really want in life.
And slow yourself down.