Matters Column

Value your time and find joy in the journey

May 1, 2015
TAGS time / value
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Why is it that people tend to rush to judgment, hurry up to wait and do anything but “stop to smell the roses”?

We seem to worry more about how quickly we can finish the race than about the joy along the way — or even the satisfaction derived from simply crossing the finish line.

People far too often worry needlessly about things outside their control rather than identifying the things over which they do have influence and acting upon them, fearing they do not have the time to slow down to appreciate the things around them because of the unrealistic expectations they have placed upon themselves.

We often find ourselves slaves to the very clock we desperately seek to master as we keep ourselves busy to the point of exhaustion so we can complete a journey.

Many people complain about the lemons rather than celebrating the opportunity to make lemonade. The weather is too hot, yet January and February will almost certainly bring complaints about it being too cold. Rather than finding satisfaction in all they have accomplished, some see only what has not been finished due to a lack of time. They spend time wishing they had something more rather than being grateful for what they possess.

We have become a nation of complainers who find satisfaction in bringing others down in order to make ourselves look better, rather than elevating ourselves so we can pull others up with us.

Perhaps we should choose not to rush to judge others by taking the time to ask why someone acted in a way we might feel is foolish or ill-advised. Rather than expediting our condemnation, we should take time to see if our perspective might be the cause of exasperation rather than another’s actions.

Think about how much our words might matter if we offered advice and counsel rather than critically dismissing another’s action as being worthless, wrong or misguided.

Doing something for someone or telling them how badly they performed because they have done it “wrong” — or differently than you might have — provides a short-term “fix” as it changes only results rather than altering behavior. Correcting a “wrong” by stepping in and taking over may expedite a solution but it will not prevent the problem from recurring.

Why hurry up to wait? If you are going to have to wait anyway, use the time preparing for the journey. You can only control your own behavior. Each individual must take responsibility for his or her own actions, then enjoy the rewards or deal with the repercussions that result from those decisions.

If someone is frustrating you by being late, use the time productively to think about how you might be able to change the situation. Avoid the senseless feeling of frustration caused by another’s thoughtless action by taking something you can do while waiting.

If you can arrive early to a meeting, maximize your time by doing so but call ahead to make sure it is alright with the person you are meeting rather than showing up unannounced. If you are going to be late, call ahead to ask if it is alright or if you should reschedule. At least your tardiness will not be holding others up.

When people rush to see how much they can do, they often lessen the enjoyment of what they actually accomplished.

While vacationing in Maine several summers ago, we overheard someone ask about the best way to see Acadia National Park in three hours — impossible! There is far too much majesty off the trails to be satisfied with driving around the park loop. Another said the three-hour lighthouse tour could be done in less than an hour as it took 25 minutes each way and five minutes to take pictures. He obviously missed the other five lighthouses along the coast.

When we take time to “smell the roses” rather than simply seeing they exist, we are able to find joy in the journey by investing time in the discovery of waterfalls, breathtaking mountain outlooks and peaceful valleys rather than accepting satisfaction in simply having “been there.”

People can be far too quick to blame and too slow to seek responsibility should they choose to play the “hurry up and wait game,” often too determined to assign fault and transfer blame to seek a workable solution and ensure its implementation.

Some measure life by the number of breaths they take. Might not a better measure be the number of moments that take our breath away? Spend time during the coming summer months to immerse yourself in the beauty our region provides. Though we cannot alter the seasons, we can stop chasing the hands of time as they race relentlessly around the clock.

The sands of time will not bury us if we become the master of our own universe by taking the time to appreciate not only where we are going but also how, when and if we chose to arrive. 

David Smith is president and CEO of The Employers’ Association in Grand Rapids.

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