From previous blog entries, some of you know I respect the annual personal or professional reset brought about by the turning of the calendar page from December to January. A new year is as good a time as any to reflect on years past and look forward to years future with the intent of centering oneself. This year’s challenge for me is time. You have probably heard something along the lines of: “Tell me who you spend your time with and I will tell you who you are.” Some of you may scoff at this seemingly trivial and simplistic method of identifying and understanding a person, but I believe it to be true.
I argue that most of us figure out pretty early in life that time is our most precious asset – not gold or money or land. Hence, how we choose to spend our time should align fairly closely to what is important to us. And, what we deem as important should signal to the world what we value. Lastly, what we value stems from our core virtues. So, I agree that how we spend our time is a strong indication of which virtues we aspire to develop and uphold.
There are so many things competing for my time – family, business, community, learning, and leisure are just a few of my broad time investment choices. What we need to remember is that how we spend our time is our choice. Sometimes we are duty-bound to meet obligations and commitments made by loved ones. You could argue that these activities are not our choosing, but I argue that through virtuous love we choose to commit a certain portion of our time to loved ones once you choose to love them.
What I am trying to be more careful of is how my time influences who I am vs. the other way around. There are activities that start off with purposeful and virtuous intent, but they have been designed to captivate and maintain my attention and energies while seemingly suspending the passage of time. Getting lost in YouTube video after YouTube video or endless rounds of Fortnite or serial binge-watching can lull us into a warm, fuzzy trance and allow us to disconnect from the world for hours on end. While not entirely wasteful, these time choices can be slippery slopes to virtuous time investment.
My goal for 2019 is to improve how I spend my time so that it serves as an honest signal to the world of who I am – my virtues, my passions, my duties, my loves.