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Stop stealing my time!

Updated: Jan 28, 2022

I have a simple question for you. How many can actually say; “I get to, I choose to, I want to…” (Wade, 2007, pg. 19); how many do have actual control over their life; how many have control over time?

What do you think? Do you control your time? If you were to look—really look—at how your time is spent, what would you find? Would you find your time is dictated by someone, or something, other than you?

Master Martial Artist Bruce Lee (1940-1973) once said;

"To spend time is to pass it in a specified manner. To waste time is to expend it thoughtlessly or carelessly. We all have time to either spend or waste…[it’s] our decision what to do with it. But once passed, it is gone for ever." (Hyams, 1997, pg. 39)

Once time is gone; it’s spent; it’s gone forever; there is tremendous depth in that statement.

Have you ever thought of time being a commodity; or something of value? Have you ever stopped to look at how you are spending the limited time you have? Think about it this way; all humans are born to die. At birth, we are given a bank of time which consists of the hours and minutes found within an average day. At birth, our time account is full. The closer we get to death the less time I have in my account. Think about it; it doesn’t matter who were are; a peasant or a king; time passes the same for us all.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet once compared the value of kings and peasants; suggesting each finds equal status in the end. With an understanding, Hamlet was standing in a graveyard; when he uttered his famous phrase, “to be or not to be”; we can better understand what was on his mind.

Hamlet was the son a of king; a king murdered by a brother to gain control of a throne. Hamlet wanted justice. His desire was to dethrone his murderous uncle and seek revenge for the death of his father. Hamlet got work.

As time progressed, Hamlet found himself in a graveyard staring into the eyes of a skull belonging to his life-long mentor. Hamlet spoke of control and a cold reality which brought his friend to sleep in a field of bones. Hamlet’s life, like the life of his mentor and father, would soon be over. His question, “to be or not to be”, seems to ask the value of what he was doing with the time he had.

The value of time is the theme of a 1973, British progressive rock, song simply titled “Time”; this vintage compilation laments the following;

"Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day

Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way

Kicking around on a piece of ground in your hometown

Waiting for someone or something to show you the way"

"Tired of lying in the sunshine, staying home to watch the rain

You are young and life is long, and there is time to kill today

And then one day you find ten years have got behind you

No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun"

"And you run, and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking

Racing around to come up behind you again

The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older

Shorter of breath and one day closer to death"

"Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time

Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines

Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way

The time is gone, the song is over, thought I'd something more to say"

Pink Floy’s “Dark Side of the Moon” spent decades topping best selling album charts. The reason seems related to metaphors of life; or concepts of what can be done with the time we have. Perhaps the success of this album speaks of our ability to understand the value of time as a commodity.

Time, my friends, is a commodity; but time does not act the same way as other things of value. For example, money can be spent, saved, earned, lost, or even stolen. Time, on the other hand, simply passes regardless of what we do. We can’t save time; we can’t pause time; we can’t create time; all we can do is spend the time we have in an intelligent direction.

Academy Award winning screenwriter, Sterling Silliphant, once said;

"I will not permit people to steal my time. There are moments in my life— necessary moments—when I don't do anything but what is my choice. The choice of how I spend my time is mine, and it is not dictated by social convention." (Hyams, 1997, pg. 40)

What do you think? Does your time really belong to you; or are you allowing people, things, events, or outcomes to steal your time?

Think about this for a moment; how many spend time doing things they don't value? How many are slaves to something outside their control? How many labor for one-sided connections? What do you think; are you wasting your time; are you allowing someone, or something, to steal the time you have been given?

Most my life I have allowed others to steal my time. The day I chose to guard the value of my time is the day I began creating a life of my design; a life of success; a life of control. By protecting my time as my most precious commodity I brake free from what has been called the “rat-race”; or a never-ending cycle of accomplishing goals for other people. In reality, the rat-race is a willingness to constantly labor for outcomes that make better sense for someone other than me.

Laboring for other people has given me a strong understanding of frustrations caused by the theft of my time. This is the reason I have worked for years to understand how I can better control what time I have left. What I have found is simple, the day I chose to guard my time, as my single greatest commodity, is the day I began to live.

Learn how to guard your time!


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Hyams, J. (1997). Zen in the martial arts. Bantam.

Wade, Chad A. (2007). Cracking the Producers Code. Stockton, CA: More Heart Than Talent Publishing.

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