Ask a random sampling of people how their time is best spent, and chances are you will hear different responses. One will tell you that it is the hour just before bedtime spent snuggling and reading with his children. Another might say it is the days spent putting together the presentation guaranteed to land a big new client for her company. Still another will vow that the stolen moments of solitude in the middle of a hectic week are the ones that matter most. The wonderful thing is that each of these answers is the right one.
During the career driven years of my late twenties and early thirties I misled myself into believing that the countless evenings and weekends spent working were fulfilling. I realized down the road that those extra hours at the office, far from enriching my life, were the very ones that were sucking the life out of me. Just because that was the case for me, though, does not make it so for everyone.
In our house we now subscribe to the theory that you are only as rich as your free time, a wonderful phrase picked up from a friend that best describes our line of thinking. For us, it works best to forego the material “extras” that money can buy in exchange for more leisure time enjoyed away from our jobs. This does not mean that we do not care about our work. My husband has been a dedicated law enforcement officer for twenty years, and I have landed an ideal position in my field that allows me to spend less time in the office while still being a major contributor to my employer. What we have learned is that what works for us is to know how much we can give to our careers without compromising our well-being.
When I realized that my health, both mental and physical, was better served by working less and spending less, I felt as if I had made a great discovery. I am often compelled to share my findings with others because it is a part of my journey. However, it has dawned on me that in the process I may be belittling or demeaning the way others choose to spend their time, and by extension the things that are important to them.
I can easily pass a day away lounging on the couch watching reruns of Dateline, reading, writing, napping, and surfing the internet. To some this would be the definition of time wasted, but to me it is restorative and thereby far from wasted. Someone else may be energized by deadlines, projects, business trips, and burning the midnight oil. To me that is not time wasted, but for me it might not be time well spent.
I prefer to have blocks of unencumbered time set aside, while others prefer to fill their days with one activity after another. I am energized by working a short week and having extra downtime to pursue outside interests. There are many dedicated, highly successful people who genuinely thrive on working long, hard hours. I need to remember to take care, as I do not want to judge their choices anymore than I want to have mine judged.
My time is well spent for me because how I choose to spend it enriches my life. Your time, while it may be spent in an entirely different manner than mine, is time well spent if it enriches your lifeli One way does not have to be right and another wrong. The important thing is to make sure that we are not doing time, but rather that we are living time. Time spent living, growing, and loving can never be mistaken for time misspent.
How is your time best spent? Do you prefer to be busy and on the go, or do you prefer downtime? As always I appreciate and encourage your feedback and comments. Cheers! Karen
Photo credits to http://www.pixabay.com