Maybe you find yourself trading that precious commodity, your time for the accumulation additional wealth. I think this is a trigger for a lot of people in their 50’s and 60’s who begin thinking about retirement. You begin to realize the opportunity cost of staying at your less than fulfilling job. You become preoccupied thinking of all the things you want to do that you just don’t have time to pursue. I know for myself things like a career path, promotions, and all those other things that seemed important in my 40’s occupy little space in my mind today. This understanding of the value of time, which you should have had all along becomes so much more important than the accumulation of wealth and the agony that often accompanies it. Instead of mellowing out as we age, we often become less tolerant of the bullshit and wish for more autonomy and freedom to pursue what really matters to us.
The feeling of regret for not realizing this long ago comes up and you may feel you have wasted years or even decades running on the hamster wheel for monetary rewards. Then again maybe you have had a great career, but realize it’s time to pack it in and start something new. In either case you are faced with the decision to keep doing the same old thing or break free and use the remaining days, months, or years to do something else. If you are a fan of the stoics you will find a lot of material devoted to death and the importance of living life in a meaningful way. One of my favorite quotes is from Marcus Aurelius:
I love this quote by Marcus Aurelius especially during this trying time, where we are re-discovering just how valuable each day is. We tend to live our life like time is infinite, when logically we know this is not true, but our actions tend to lead us toward filling time versus valuing it. His analogy of throwing open the windows of your soul to the sun, means your days are numbered and you must express yourself, be yourself, and stop all the bullshit and value your time on this earth. The second part of this quote reminds you that our time is limited and wasting our life on trivial shit, becomes a life that is wasted.
The stoics did a good job reminding us we are all mortal. In fact we die a little bit everyday, getting a little closer to our demise. You may live another 10, 20, 30, or 40 years or more, but you may also die tomorrow. I know all this sounds morbid, but understanding how fragile we all are has a great potential for helping us realize how valuable each moment is. Yes, you will die, but if you are reading this you are not dead yet.
Rejoice, do something important today, show someone you love them, and don’t waste your time.