My blog-Twitter stats synchronicity

I just noticed that there is a little synchronicity between my blog stats and my Twitter stats. 4,022 blog posts alongside 40.2k tweets … See? 😁

Blog stats
4,022 blog posts already … boy, where did the time go?
My Twitter stats
40,2k tweets and more than a decade on Twitter. Where did that time go?

I doubt very much that there are any stars and/or planets in alignment for this one. Just the same, it’s a fun little thing for me.

Time is running out

Time is running out

I keep thinking about demands on my time and who makes them. Of course those demands usually conflict and I find myself trying to find a way to balance these competing demands and answer the ones that matter most.

When we build our lives around ‘what’s due’ we sacrifice our agency to the priorities and urgencies of everyone else.

Seth Godin’s recent post titled “Missed it by that much” speaks to these kinds of challenges and how we can forget that time is running out for us to do things that matter most.

We sometimes like to think that we control our destinies and decide our fates but how often is that actually the case? We have the illusion of choice within shrinking parameters we don’t create. Where does that leave us? Probably not where we think we are, at all.

Time is running out for you to become the person you’ve decided to be, to make the difference you seek to make, to produce the work you know you’re capable of.

In the background there is a nagging feeling that time is running out for us. We spend all our time trying to satisfy everyone else’s demands (probably motivated by what they want to achieve given the time available to them) and rarely satisfying our own.

That is, assuming we even know what we most want to do with the limited time we have available in this life.

Perhaps, as we get a clearer sense of what we most want to do (even if it is just today, this week or this year) one way to reconcile all these seemingly incompatible tugs is to find work that others need and will compensate us for in ways that we can meet others’ needs.

It sounds a bit obvious but our model for employment tends to emphasize employers’ needs over employees’. The result tends to be a lot of people doing work they don’t particularly enjoy, largely in the hope that they have enough time off to do the things that matter most before they die.

It’s a little crazy, when you think about it. All that time we spend waiting for the few moments we really want to get to and then we are so often too exhausted or frustrated to enjoy them or make them as meaningful as we’d intended.

What might help is if there was a closer collaboration between employers and their employees to find ways employees could draw on their passions and make more distinctive and sustainable contributions. It’s probably a bit of a fantasy because it requires everyone’s expectations to sync and they rarely do.

Conventional wisdom is divided on what to do. Either you need to just find a decent job with a decent salary and live for the weekends (and hope there are more of them than not) or you should pursue your passion and wait for the money to follow.

The first option is pretty depressing, albeit practical. I also wonder how much it tends to shorten lives simply because of the layers and layers of sadness and the growing sense that you are wasting your potential to make a better contribution to this world before you pass on from it.

The second option sounds great. It appeals to our desire to find fulfillment and joy in our day jobs that feeds our souls and make our lives that much more meaningful. The trouble with this approach is that there aren’t any clear guidelines for how to trigger the cashflow and you still have bills to pay, mouths to feed, that sort of thing.

So, that leaves us walking a bit of a metaphorical tight-rope where we seek the answer to the question “What is most meaningful in this life?” while earning a salary; trying to figure out to merge the two and do all the other stuff that counts.

While all of that is happening, time is running out.

Image credit: Foto-Rabe

If I could just go back in time and make better decisions …

Ever wish you could go back in time and make a different choice?

“If I could just go back in time and do that differently …”

If you have ever said those words (or thought them), you probably imagined an alternate timeline when you were able to correct a mistake or make a different decision about something that led to your current situation.

Leaving aside the current reality that time is very much a linear experience in one direction, it is appealing to think we could be living a better life if only we made different choices.

I’ve certainly thought about it. Each time I considered the hypothetical possibility that I could go back in time and change something, I arrived at the same conclusion: I would probably lose the wonderful things I have in my life too.

If I gave a different answer then a relationship would have ended sooner and I wouldn’t have made that [insert adjective here] decision later. Then I could have avoided [insert consequences here] and I would be so much better off now!

Sure, if I had 3 wishes and a genie to grant them I’d probably make a couple changes here and there (I’ve thought about this too!). I doubt they would be as dramatic as you may think.

I’ve come to understand that all my past mistakes also involved a series of decisions that led me to this life with a wonderful wife and children and an opportunity to have the experiences I have today.

More recently, I also realised that this idea that we could make different choices to affect our future lives isn’t just a phenomenon of the past. It is very much part of our present too.

This isn’t quite a “Road Not Taken” realisation. Instead what I realised is that each decision we make could one day become that decision we will wish we could have made differently.

It is easy to wish we could be transported back in time to correct a wrong at some perceived pivotal point in our lives. It is also easy to imagine that, by correcting that wrong and making a different decision, we would place our future selves in a far better position. It’s easy because we know we can’t go back in time.

Unfortunately, that desire to change something we can’t influence also keeps us tied to the past and prevents us from moving forward with the life we have now.

What we can influence, though, is the next decision we make. What if we project ourselves forward a few years and consider what impact a decision may have on our lives? Perhaps we could glimpse a likely future and make a better decision now and save ourselves that future angst.

We all make mistakes. I make mistakes daily. Some are minor, others not so much. Learning from those mistakes is an important step towards greater self-awareness and not repeating them.

I think it is also possible to make better decisions and smaller mistakes with a little imagination and foresight. In the process, perhaps we’ll also find ourselves wondering: “If I could just go back in time and do that differently …” a little less often in the future.

Featured image credit: Pixabay

Trapani, time and transitions

Gina Trapani spoke at the XOXO Festival recently and I finally watched her talk. I’ve followed Trapani for years now and when she mentioned that she spoke at the festival (hadn’t heard of it before) on an episode of This Week in Google, I made a mental note to watch the video.

She talks about 3 significant stories in her life starting with 9/11 and ending with her marriage and daughter’s birth shared online and how her Web app, Thinkup, helps her track her digital activity and be more mindful of how meaningful it is.

Trapani’s talk reminded me of a few things I’ve been thinking about lately and I wrote down a couple things she said in her talk which really appealed to me. I’m going through quite a bit change in my life (along with my family) at the moment and it feels like we’re in between our old life and a new one, in a sort of limbo. For someone not particularly comfortable with transitions (especially not the huge life changes we’re going through at the moment), this is a challenging time for me.

I find myself throwing out loads of old baggage (literally) and, at the same time, holding on to little memories and mementos I’m not quite sure what to do with.

Trapani spoke about how she started documenting everything in her life after 9/11. I capture so much of my life and my family’s life. I capture all those weird art projects our kids bring home (I take photos when they arrive and store them, along with everything else, in Evernote). One of the reasons I am so passionate about my photography is because it is a way for me to document our lives so we have a rich record of it for our future selves and future generations. I’m practically obsessed with scanning documentation and storing it, both for work and just to build that archive of our lives. I even scanned half a dozen Moleskine journals before shredding the originals while we were packing up our home and my office.

In the midst of all of that, I feel a little adrift between our old life when I worked to remain relevant in a changing environment and to support my family and the new life where we will begin again in a new country and where I’m not too sure what I’ll do to earn a living and grow further in the months and years to come. I find these transitions unsettling and difficult to plan for. One of Trapani’s quotes that stood out for me was this one:

Somehow, somewhere your worst moments will power your best work

I don’t see my current challenges as my worst moments by any stretch of my imagination and yet this idea still resonates with me. I’m excited about our new life and I know this limbo will end soon. I also know I can’t remain tethered to our old life if I am going to embrace our new life and create something fresh. Not letting go means that our new life could become a shadow of the old and a missed opportunity to create something better and more meaningful.

I’m still working on that “letting go” bit and figuring out where the balance is between letting go and forgetting.

So, it's 1 November 2012 today …

Where did the rest of the year go? This is becoming a worrying trend!