I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to live a meaningful and intentional lifestyle. The details would look different for each of us (depending on what’s important to us) but there’s gotta be some overarching principles for a meaningful life.
Let’s look at the opposite of a meaningful life—wasted time.
If our life is made up of time (our most valuable resource) then wasting our time leads us down a path of regret and unhappiness.
But what does wasted time look like?
Again, not so easily answered universally. We all value certain things over others.
Here are some questions to reflect on whether or not you are using your time wisely:
Q: Am I spending my time or investing my time?
Entertainment is incredible. But it’s also about balance. Enjoy the things you love, but not let your love of short term pleasure and experience crowd out the long term benefits of investing your time more wisely. Ask yourself, “Am I enjoying this? Am I gaining some value from this experience?”
Q: Will I care about this a month from now? How about a year? 3 years?
If not, then it’s likely a waste of valuable resources. For example, if you’re angry about something critical or hateful someone said to you, are you really going to care about it a year from now? Not really—you likely won’t even remember the mean spirited comment. Then, it’s not worth the time to dwell on it! Easier said than done, of course. But even knowing that it’s a waste of time is a helpful way to reset yourself and give yourself the space to move on from it.
Q: Is this part of my current environment’s lifestyle? Or, put more generally, is this something in my immediate control or not?
If you live in New York, then taking the subway, walking long distances, paying for a taxi or a Lyft, and/or paying top dollar for parking is a way of life. In this case, commuting isn’t a waste of time, because it’s a necessity for living in the city. That’s not easily changeable. But the upsides of living in a thriving city might be worth it for you. Otherwise, why are you there?
If so, then I should either stop stressing or regretting the cost or change my environment that aligns better with what a meaningful life looks like for me.
Q: What can I learn from this experience?
There’s always going to be moments in our lives where we cave or unintentionally waste our time. We aren’t perfect. Mistakes will be made. But failure isn’t a waste of time unless we stubbornly refuse to learn from our mistakes and misfortunes.
Wasted time is only wasted time if we refuse to learn from it.
This requires our ego to take a knee and humble itself enough to be open to change, to moving forward, to emotion, to uncomfortable conversations and hope for a better version of ourselves going forward. But if we loop our wasted time over and over again in our heads, not only are we not learning from the past, we aren’t moving forward (aka we’re wasting even more precious time.)
Am I running on default or am I living intentionally?
- Doing things other people tell you without regard to why.
- Not making decisions (allow other people to make them for you.
Living intentionally is having an active say in who you want to be and how you want to live.
A meaningful life is a well-invested life.
STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1117