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Making time for the important things in life

 | May 18, 2014

We are all living on borrowed time and it is vital that we wake up and start focussing on what it means to happy and contented


Happy FamilyThese last three weeks had been hectic and also a sad moment in my life. In less than a month, my 84- year-old mother, who was walking all this while, became paralysed. She then passed away last week. The whole event happened so fast, and as I write this article today, her passing and how she had been a loving mother is still fresh on my mind.

But my mother’s passing is not what I want to write about. My childhood friend, Krishna, whom I’m rarely in touch with came to the funeral service in church to pay his last respects. Later that night I SMSed him to thank him for coming and he replied, “Hi Leicester, you’re welcome. We all lead busy lives but I always make time for the most important things.”

His reply really stopped me in my tracks. His words, “I always make time for the most important things”, struck a cord. By the way, Krishna is a very successful business man.

Weeks earlier, I had an opportunity to hear UN Ambassador of Peace, Prem Rawat, give a talk in Putrajaya. What caught my attention in his talk was that we humans have really a fixed and short time here on earth. Even if one lives till 100 years old, it is just only 36,500 days.

Equating, what Krishna and Prem Rawat had shared, I asked myself a question, “Am I making time to do the important things in life?” Just, to check my sentiments on this, I created a plain red background Facebook profile cover photo with the words, ‘Make time for the most important things in Life’.

Amazingly, I had so many likes and even comments and appreciation for sharing and reminding them of this important fact. A simple statement stirred the hearts of many. It such a bummer to hear each day in the media the many immature bickering and resentment about politics, religion, financial, etc.

Living in Malaysia, has become like an agitated marriage. It’s like living in a glass room. When one throws a stone, the other will throw one back. It’s a blessing that the society’s glass walls are still standing. One thing is for sure, these glass walls have many scratches which will never go away!

So what is the most important thing for Malaysian to do right now? Stop making time for negative things or focus on foolish people’s remarks. There are many things that need attention now, making time to spend time with your love ones, saving for a rainy day or just paying your bills on time.

Making time for the important things in life is a real challenge. When it comes to really living, we tend to struggle. We are constantly struggling with all the negativity in the air. Are we simply existing or are we truly living? What is really important is realising the abundance of happiness and joy we have available to us right now, within ourselves.

There are many troublemakers causing problems and disrupting society. It’s time these people shut up and start focusing on the truly important issues if they want to be useful to God and man. If all religious people and general public can realise that God has blessed every Malaysian in abundance, then there will not be so much push and pull going on as reported in the media.

Harmony and tolerance will then be at its strongest.

Let’s ask a question. Have you ever ended the day with the feeling that you were as busy as you could possibly be, but didn’t make any progress on the really important things? Have you been resentful of the time and energy you have to spend on meeting the demands of others? Have you ever felt out of control – that outside forces take up all your time – and feel like a victim?

I’ve struggled with what it means to be fulfilled. I often associated how much I got done, or how much I’ve accomplished with my personal fulfilment.

However, no matter how much I got done, no matter how much external success I achieved, I was left feeling empty. It was never going to bring me fulfilment. I also realised, the more I did things that were important to me, the more I nurtured my soul and took time to do the things I truly desired, the happier I became.

Not only did I become happier, I also had more energy and motivation. I learnt how I could incorporate these two as well, and instead of compartmentalising my life, I began developing congruency. Here are some simple ways you can create more time for the important things in your life.

Realise the difference between efficiency and effectiveness. Efficiency is being able to do things really well, in a timely manner, with as little resources as possible. Realise the difference between being effective and being efficient and you will start to realise what matters and what doesn’t.

Limit your time. Parkinson’s Law states the longer amount of time we’re given to complete a task, the bigger we’ll make it out to be. If we have three months, we need three months. If we have two weeks, we need every day in that two weeks.

However, if we need it done the next day, somehow we miraculously are able to accomplish what we wouldn’t have thought possible had we been given more time.

Eliminate as much as possible. Take an inventory of everything that you do in a given day. Anything that isn’t necessary to achieve your goals, eliminate it. A good rule to go by when eliminating is the 80/20 rule.

The 80/20 rule states that 80% of your results come from 20% (or less) or your efforts. After you’ve identified where the most results are coming from, focus on and multiply your efforts in those areas and eliminate any effort in the others.

Establish limits to repeated tasks. They’re a lot of things we do that need to be repeated on some basis. Checking and responding to e-mails is a great example. E-mails should take up only a small portion of your day, maybe 30 minutes at most.

But we get so absorbed in this ‘need to know’ mindset that we develop a mammoth time-wasting habit. Now we can stop worrying about what our e-mail status or shipping status is and focus on what is really important to us.

Fix the cause of the problem, don’t just put a Band-Aid on it. If there’s a problem that keeps coming up in your life, take the time to find out the root cause of it. This might require journaling about it, meditating, or talking to a close friend. It might take some research online or reading a book.

Whatever it is, find the source of the problem and fix it, instead of just treating the symptom. This might require some maintenance, but when we find permanent answers to our problems instead of quick fixes, we spend less time worrying about them and free up a lot of wasted energy.

Tools for staying focused and enriching your life

Be mindful, this will enable you to be aware of when you are spinning your wheels, when you are spending too much time on unimportant things. Create a question that you will repeat at the beginning of each day, ‘what is important to me today?’

Always do your best. Remember, to always do your best. Your best will also vary depending on your circumstances. In the morning when you are fully rested, your best will be better than after you have worked a full day. Always doing your best is about taking action, and when you put these steps into action you will get results.

Stop trying to be a perfectionist. Perfection is an illusion. We strive for perfection because we have an image in our minds of what we should be, but are not. Perfection and imperfection are a result of a conflict in your mind, they don’t exist in reality. You have to make mistakes in order to grow, don’t let perfectionism paralyse you. If you had not been failing, chances are you’re not trying hard enough.

Get organised. Write your goals and your aspirations down. Write your ‘to-do project list’ down somewhere you can see them often. Then write a desire and intention list. Cross-reference these and see if your to-do actions line up with your desires and intention, the things that are important to you.

Often we know where we want to go in our hearts, but the ambiguity of what actions need to be taken is what stifles and keeps us frustrated the most. Once our desires and dreams are defined, they can be achieved.

Ask yourself questions. How often do we talk to ourselves, yet we are not really listening. We go on and on, conversing in our own minds a.k.a. thinking. But in order to really communicate with ourselves we need to ask questions.

Asking ourselves questions helps us to define our intentions and desires and realise the actions needed to make them a reality.

Remember what you created more time for. We didn’t eliminate all those unnecessary tasks and wheel spinning so we could sit idly and do nothing. We did it so we could have more time to follow our passions, to realise our dreams, to fulfil our deepest desires and longings. What we are really seeking is the experience of being alive. When we realise this, that’s when we wake up and start living.

Happiness and Health. And finally, make sure being happy and healthy is on the top items on your important list. If you’ve done nothing but just these two life missions – to be happy and healthy then you can say you lived your life well.

These are two important ingredient that money can’t buy and will follow you as long as you live. So deliberate your life today, and act wisely on what is important. It must be important to you.

Julian Leicester is a London-trained subconscious specialist with Hypno-Station. He is Malaysia’s most renowned professional hypnotherapist, media personality, columnist, and event host and book author. He can be contacted at [email protected] or www.hypno-station.com)


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