“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavour” ~ Henry David Thoreau
Time is a gift we should all be grateful for. It’s a gift because we can’t extend or reduce it, it was given to us, and we should be thankful for the opportunity to have it. However, what we do with time is a choice and one for the most part within our control. The choices we make within the 24 hours we have determines the results we can expect from life.
Over the past 5 weeks, due to the COVID - 19 lockdown, many of us have been given a gift of time. This is time we would normally have spent in transit to and fro places we care about, doing the things we love. While we might miss these places and activities, we have that time to do whatever we find worthy within the confines of our homes.
We can choose to chat with loved ones, binge watch on movies, participate in various social media challenges, sleep as much as we can, take online courses, and much more, but we believe that there is an important task that we all must find time to do in the midst of this lockdown. A task that ensures we are better prepared for life post-COVID-19. A task that ensures our saw is well sharpened to get more done thereafter. A task that gives meaning to other activities. A task that helps us find ourselves.
Every day, we are faced with so much to do leaving us tired and with almost no time to visit the drawing board and be sure we are on the right track. However, it will really hurt to climb a ladder for 20 years only to realize it was leaning against a wrong wall, and there really is no point increasing speed if we are headed in the wrong direction.
Hence why we must value this gift and the opportunity it brings, away from regular distractions to look inward - to discover ourselves, to find what truly matters, and to work towards achieving those. It is a gift of aloneness to chart the course that leads us forward towards our dreams. This can be a difficult task for many but one that if done correctly will lead to fulfilment, happiness and a new zeal to live daily.
Finding ourselves involves asking important questions as below, the answer to which enables us consciously
- make the right decisions that propel us forward daily.
- What makes me happy and fulfilled? Who am I?
- Why am I doing what I am doing? Where is this leading me?
- Where do I really want to go? What do I want to achieve? Why?
Steven Covey recommends what he calls “beginning with the end in mind” to help us in becoming highly effective people. When we are not clear about our destination, every door becomes attractive, but effectiveness requires clarity and we must find it for ourselves. Even if we can’t see the whole 9 yards, we must seek within our current capabilities to see as far as possible. Knowing I am headed for Ibadan and why I am going there ensures the bus to Benin isn’t attractive enough to distract me even though others are going there.
To begin with the end in mind, Covey recommends attending your funeral using your imagination. Imagine your funeral, and write down what you desire for people to say when you are gone. Write down what you want your spouse to say, your children, neighbor, colleagues, friends, etc. Once done, compare this with what might be the story today and see where the gaps are. Use this to check if your current path will lead you to what you want to be remembered for.
Someone once shared how work took him away from home for a stretch of months at a time. One day, he came home for the weekend and his 4-year-old daughter asked her mum “when will this uncle leave our house?” It broke him. He believed all he was doing was for his family but realized that this activity was taking him away from the same family he cared so much about. He began to rethink his source of income and ultimately started a business that is fetching him more money today and giving him plenty of time to spend with his family.
While we can’t change what’s going on around us, we can begin by changing what’s happening within, and as we take control of the things we can influence and change, we begin to find a deeper sense of meaning in all we do. There is so much noise around but we must find our inner voice. Everyone has a recommendation on what we should be doing but we must find what helps our own journey. This week, take some time to look inwards, to find yourself, for it is only when we have found ourselves that we can find the happiness we seek and help others on their own journey.