by David B. Bohl
In today’s frantic world of double income parents and internet/cell phone access that keeps us within easy reach, it seems that work is competing for more and more of our time. We take business calls during our child’s bedtime story, carry our laptops along with us on vacation, and learn to multi-task dinner prep with client projects.
But despite this perceived “efficiency,” we must ask ourselves: is our productivity really increasing? Or are we just busying ourselves, running from here to there, juggling too many priorities and compromising our standards as we do so? Through all the rushing and ticking off of items on our neverending to-do list, we can’t help but sense that the boundaries between work and private life are all but evaporating.
This has not gone unnoticed by consumer products companies, who are pumping out new technologies to enhance the quality of our frenzied lives. Thanks to their efforts, we can now record TV shows so we can watch them “when it’s convenient for us.” We buy mp3 players so we can listen to music anytime, without commercial interruption. We spend our hard earned dollars on complex voicemail systems that allow us to access all of our multiple email boxes via one single computer. We are amenable to the concept of “technology that delivers convenience,” investing in countless “tools” that make our life’s tasks simpler and keep us readily accessible no matter where we are.
But often times this only leads to more multitasking, thus causing more frequent interruptions to our already full-on, full-time lives.
Time is the new currency, and the perception is growing that we don’t have enough of it. Many of us are realizing that we can’t ever recapture it. When we spend time on one thing, we realize that we could be doing another – something of value. When we find someone willing to give us their time, we feel honored and pressured not to waste their time. Our lives are busier than ever, and we’re looking for ways to cut corners to balance work, family, and personal time. More often than not, family and personal time is sacrificed.
We’re feeling overburdened, overstressed, and overworked, and increasingly so. We need to stop, take a breath, and look around us. We need to reexamine our values.
At Slow Down Fast, we separate values into three types: inherent values, extraneous values, and lifestyle values. As you read each definition below, take a few moments to consider what’s important to you – what your core values are.
Inherent (essential) Values: those that relate to your satisfaction in life and your inspiration and enthusiasm in your personal, family, and work life (heart-felt values and beliefs).
Extraneous (non-essential) Values: the “conditions” you have or desire in the different areas of your life (i.e. money, wealth, status, power).
Lifestyle Values: Personal values and desires regarding the people, places, things, and situations you want in your life (saving vs. spending, living lavishly vs. simply, being involved in community, city life vs. rural setting).
Now the tough part. Examine, really look hard at the life you’re living. Have you chosen to live a life in support of your values, or are there contradictions? Think about which aspects of your life fall into each of the above categories. In doing this, you will gain a new sense of the way your life balances out.
Are the scales tipping in favor of wealth and material goods, when they should ideally be more divided between financial gain, and quality time with family? When our lives are out of balance, everything falls out of balance – our mental, physical, and emotional well-being. We subject ourselves to health risks, and our relationships suffer as well. All of this affects us deeply, whether we’re ready to admit it or not.
If you’re living your values, fantastic! That’s what some call a life in harmony, or a life in balance. If not, it’s time to ask yourself what measures you can take to bring your actions – your life – in line with your values. Is it worth sacrificing your well-being and the happiness of your loved ones? Is it worth passing over the things you feel to be truly essential, at the core of your being?
Now the question remains: if time is the new currency, how can we make the most of the time we have? The real answer lies at the heart of your value system. Once you determine exactly what it is that you live for each day, you become empowered with the ability to control your own time. And when that happens – you realize you’re ready to live the life you have always dreamed of.