“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” Robert Frost.
Here we are kicking the heels of May and I am still working on my New Year Resolutions! Remember the photographs I took out of storage in January and then shoved them back into the spare room again in February? Well, I took them back out again during the Easter holidays and now six albums later they are all sorted. The rest of the year will be spent tackling the other half of this particular resolution—clearing an increasing collection of photographs from my phone and hard drive!
Sometimes the very thought of doing something that is going to take you the guts of a year to achieve is a complete turn off. Such thoughts are clearly demotivating, but more importantly they reveal a total misunderstanding of the nature of time.
We tend to think of time as a resource that we spend, just like we spend money. To complete a one-hour task is to spend an hour on it. How are you spending your day? Where do you want to spend your next vacation? Time is money, a disposable resource. This is a silly and inaccurate way to think about time, however. Time is not a resource. You cannot spend time. Time spends itself. You have no choice in the matter. It’s not like you have another life in the bank, and if you did, you would probably be taxed on it! No matter what you do, the time is going to pass anyway and NOW is the only time we have.
The purpose of goal-setting isn’t to control the future. The only value in goal-setting is that it improves the quality of your present moment. Setting goals can give you greater clarity and focus right now or in my case tidy and protected photographs and more space in my spare room. When you set goals that increase the quality of your present reality, then what does it matter how long it takes to achieve the final outcome? Whether it takes one week or five years is irrelevant. The size and scope of the goal will cease to matter. Instead of thinking of your goals as time-bound projects, consider each goal in light of its effect on your present reality.
This time last year I decided to give up a few activities I was involved in to concentrate on my writing. Since then I have set up a blog and I write this column. I have finished my first children’s book and I am working on three others, including my second non-fiction book. I hope to send my babies out soon and, fingers crossed, they will get published and you will get an opportunity to enjoy them one day but for me right now the goal is to enjoy my writing, to utilize my time the best way I can and to commit to my goal of becoming a better writer.
So how is 2012 going for you? Are you making progress with your goals? You are? Great! Go celebrate. You haven’t got any goals? That’s ok. It’s never too late to start. Michelangelo was seventy-two when he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Pablo Picasso produced drawings and engravings into his nineties and George Herman Hesse wrote Steppenwolf at the age of fifty. Sure, the year is young and you must still be alive if you are reading this so go now and make a start and achieve a goal.