I was messaging with a friend recently, catching up on our days. I told him that I’d gotten a lot of work done that day, had worked out, and that I was getting ready to head off to meet with a client. His response was, “Nice! You are so busy. The day goes faster like that.”
Hold up. Wait…. What did he say?!
My friend’s statement gave me an immediate visceral response that shot an unusual and unexpected feeling from head to toe. It was as if some sort of timer went off and I was suddenly fully alert. I immediately thought, “Wait a minute here, I don’t want time to go fast!”
This full-body response to such a benign comment caught me off guard, so I played around with it a bit. Why was my reaction so instinctive and immediate? Was I feeling defensive? What was being triggered? Why such a strong feeling?
Then I realized what it was.
It was less about not wanting time to pass quickly than it was about not wanting it to pass slowly; the slowness caused by distress. My friend’s comment had momentarily transported me back to my days as a financial analyst in the corporate world more than a decade ago. Back then, I dreaded the thought of returning to work on Monday mornings. This dread began at 4:30pm on Friday afternoons, not on Sunday nights!
I had brought myself to this place in life and, at least for a while, I believed I was doing what I was supposed to do: working toward the future, meeting my responsibilities. Those corporate days were the height of a terrible period in my career and in my life when my work days dragged by slowly. I wished instead that they would go so fast, they would seemingly not exist. I was working toward some idea of the future, but was not thriving in the present.
I understand I needed to go through that experience in order to get to where I am now, but I wasn’t necessarily aware of that at the time. Sometimes the desperation of being in a bad place in life can fuel change. So I took a leave from my job and spent a couple months doing some serious evaluation and soul searching. With that time, I created a plan for an alternative career and I began the journey to completely transform my life, my perspective, and so much more. I quit the corporate job and am now in a place where I am a happy active participant in the present moment and I’m not wishing time away so I can get to that future, undefined moment.
Sure, there are times when I wish that an hour or two would speed up a tad, but that’s generally because I’m hungry or tired and I want time to speed up so I can get to a place where I can eat or rest. I’m not, however, wishing for time to go faster when I’m working, spending time with friends, family or clients, or even doing yardwork (which I despise!). I’m focused on enjoying the moment that I’m in.
How about you? Do you ever wish for time to go faster? When? How often does this happen? What are you doing when you are feeling like that? What else has been going on in your life when you’ve had this experience?
Sometimes when we get a few years into our thirties, time can feel like its speeding up. This may be related to our having passed some significant milestones by then, such as getting married, having kids, graduating or buying a house. With these milestone behind us, we may feel that some of life’s novelty has dissipated and that the excitement has levelled, or tapered, off. Or maybe we realize we’ve veered off our original course and have become stuck in an unsatisfactory job or an unintentionally cultivated mundane routine.
So, what should you do if you find yourself dissatisfied by living a life that isn’t exactly what you expected it would be? What should you do if you find your life has pieces that you didn’t sign up for and are dissatisfied with, but have gotten anyway? What should you do if you’re wishing for time to go faster during certain parts and you’re savoring every minute of other parts?
Do you really want time to go faster? Are you wishing your life away? Is that really what will make things better? Singer/songwriter/actor David Cassidy passed away a few years ago. His daughter published her father’s final words: “So much wasted time.” What if instead of wishing your time would go faster or slower, you worked toward present moment awareness. Living where you are instead of where you might be, yes, even during this unique time we’re in.
I’ve heard from so many, too many, people things like “That’s just the way it is.” Or, “It’s work. I’m not supposed to like it.” Or the cynical, “Life’s a bitch and then you die.” With that kind of mindset, who wouldn’t be wishing for time to go faster?
Does any of this resonate with you? There’s got to be a better way, right?!
To anyone who finds themselves wishing for time to go faster on a regular basis, I’d like to challenge you to stop accepting things as they are and start questioning. I challenge you to explore the situations where you find yourself wanting time to go faster and to look at how you might be able to turn that around so you can find more joy and satisfaction in more of your life. Yes, even during quarantine and social distancing.
Now I’m not necessarily suggesting that you do anything drastic like quit your job. I’m sure you have bills to pay and that a change that major would take a bit of strategic planning. But is there a different perspective that you can adopt when it comes to your job? Can you find a deeper sense of purpose in what you are doing so you can stop wishing the days away?
What if you explored your job from a different perspective? I know of one person who shifted her dissatisfied view of the bureaucracy of her office by instead focusing on the welfare of its clients. What if you took a sabbatical or even a couple weeks away from the job to reflect and refresh, especially if you are already working from home right now.
What if you reduced your expenses so you could reduce your income? Could you downsize your home or possessions? Or, what if you established some short-term goals, such as paying off debt, to ultimately enable you to earn less. Be wary of a plan that includes making large purchases or taking expensive vacations in the future as a reward for having to work a job that causes you to suffer and feel unfulfilled. The fun of that purchase or vacation won’t be able to balance the rest of your life.
What if you created a new energy outside of your job such as taking online courses, maybe even towards a degree, just for fun or volunteering or exercising? Perhaps the “necessary evil” of the job and its pay would be offset by the joy of a newfound interest.
Whatever you do, do it in the now. The present moment. No more wishing time would speed by or fearing that it will pass too slowly. This is your life and you deserve to enjoy it – even the work parts. Yes, we’re in the middle of a really weird time in our lives, but this is temporary. And one could argue that this is the perfect time to step back and do the work to figure these questions out.
P.S. If this is resonating but you’re struggling to articulate the answers or find the solution, you can always set up a call with me. You don’t have to try to figure it out alone!