Inspiration

Don't Let Time Control You

Photo by Ian Sane under CC BY 2.0 license

By this time every year (February), the social media posts on New Year’s Resolutions have long died out. And probably most of the people who set out the year with a resolution have already failed. (That’s because they don’t work.)

In the aftermath of the holidays of late December and early January, time often becomes a major factor in people’s lives.

As the year comes to a close, many people use that as a time to reflect on what’s occurred in the previous year. And others, as they look toward a new year, use that as an opportunity to change their lives for the better.

But why then? Why not two months before that? Why not after tax season? Why not today?

Periods Of Time

Have you ever thought about what the words we use to describe time actually mean?

What’s kind of funny is that of our common ways in which we break down moments of time, only two have a direct tie to physical events. A day is the time it takes for the Earth to make one full rotation. A year is one orbital period of the Earth around the sun. (Oh dear, the terrors of elementary school return!)

Just about every other unit we use to measure time is a subset or superset of a day or a year (and a day is not a subset of a year, it’s an entirely different measurement). Days tend to be broken down by hours, minutes, and seconds. Years are broken down by months. Days are grouped into weeks. Years are grouped into decades, centuries, and millennia.

Why this goofy, elementary lesson?

To show you that nearly all our measures of time are just arbitrary groupings of physical events. And with the modern benefits of electricity, heating, and cooling, time in itself does not control us.

You Are In Control Of Your Time

Time does not dictate what we do. Some of the things you’ve agreed to do are subject to time, like work, school, kid’s sports practices, paying your taxes, etc. But that’s only because a group of people got together and decided on an acceptable time for those events to occur. Many of those events were founded with some sort of reasoning. But it’s not as profound as it may seem.

So why do you let time control you?

Why does the end of a year make you look back at the previous year?

Why do you try to be a better person, but only once a year?

I don’t know why you do it, but I think it’s silly. You are using time as an excuse and you are letting time dictate you. Stop!

Time doesn’t control you. Your time here may be limited, and what you believe controls that we all disagree on, but when you are standing on the ground you are in control of your own destiny.

So if you want to look back and reminisce, then do it. If you want to go on a diet, do it. If you want to call your grandma more, friggin’ do it. If you need to make a change, but you can’t do it now, then stop complaining and get on with your life. If you need to make a change and you can do it now but you’re creating arbitrary excuses to not do it, then stop being afraid and go do it.

Do what you want to do (while still considering the effects your actions have on other), and do it on your schedule.

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The Polymath Lab will be closing its doors in 2017. Many articles here will be moved to Sean's Medium account, which is the space in which he is currently writing.