When I think of time, I think of the Scream Machine at Six Flags. You know how the beginning of the ride is super slow? You creep up the steep incline, slowly crest the top as the whole train of seats behind you makes it over. Then, all of a sudden, the speed picks up and the remainder of the ride is crazy fast with all kinds of twists and turns. Now, before I continue, let me just say that the Scream Machine experience for a limber, young 15-year-old is a completely different experience from that of a 40-year-old who forgot she wasn’t 15 and had to go directly to a chiropractor after the whole jerky experience… Anyway, I digress.
Time is so much like that roller coaster. Our early years seem to creep along at a snail’s pace. We think we’ll NEVER be teenager. Then, we think we’ll NEVER be 16 and get a driver’s license. Then, we think we’ll NEVER be 18 and out the door to college. But, alas, we get that far and things start to speed up. Then, somehow, in the infant/toddler years of parenting, at least for me, it sort of slowed down again. Then, wow, it got fast after that, and now I’m staring into the face of empty-nesterhood!
Where did the years go? Seems like we were just picking out names and bringing babies home from the hospital! Older people were always saying, “Oh, honey, enjoy these years because they just go by so fast.” I didn’t 100% believe that…. until now. Well, gratefully, we have some amazing memories, lots of pictures, and kids who love us and still like to hang around us a little bit. And, for Andy and me, that was the goal all along – kids who love Jesus, love each other, and love to come home!
One thing we discovered as we went along was that TIME really is a lot like that roller coaster. It goes by at lightning speed. And, since that’s the case, how can I make the most of it? How can I make it count? How can I reach that goal of kids who love Jesus, love each other, and love to come home? Especially considering the craziness of life.
I think the answer lies in the word “intentional.” Intentional, or on-purpose, living is our best hope for truly investing our limited amount of time, and making it count. So, what does that look like? I have three suggestions:
1. Determine your priorities.
What are the most important things in your life? What, in your life, has the most value to you? Get alone, think this through, write them down, place them in order of importance. Maybe your list includes your relationship with Christ, your relationship with your husband, your children, family members, job, health, ministry, friends…. There are so many. What are yours?
2. Set goals according to your priorities.
Goal setting is the key to making your priorities a reality. Take a look around. The people who set goals for themselves are generally the people who succeed. They know where they are going, and have set themselves on a specific path to get to their desired destinations. Again, find a block of time, really pray through your priorities, and ask God to give you direction in setting realistic goals for each one. If you get stuck, maybe reach out to a mentor, someone who has been where you are, who can help you think through it.
3. Calendar your life according to your priorities and goals.
This is the trick to actually putting feet on your priorities and goals. I calendar everything! It really helps with follow through. When things actually make it to our calendars, they are much more likely to be accomplished. One of my priorities is Health. One of my goals in that category is to exercise at least 4 days per week. I actually have my work out times on my calendar. I treat them with the same importance as other appointments. Because of that, they actually happen.
Now, I suspect you might be thinking to yourself, “What about making room for God to lead your day and take you in a different direction?” Okay, AS IF He needs my permission for that! There are plenty of days that truly don’t go as I plan. Sometimes I think it’s God leading differently, and sometimes it’s just circumstances that require things to be different. That’s okay! I just hop back on the schedule the next day. No worries.
The other argument to all of this could be something along the lines of, “Well, I’m just too creative and free-flowing to follow a schedule.” That’s okay too. You just need to find a way to make sure the things that are most important to you, your priorities, actually are the things to which you give your time.
Once, I was given the assignment of writing my own eulogy. I realize that sounds rather morbid, but it was actually a pretty eye-opening exercise. It caused to me to think about what’s really important, and how I’d like to be remembered. The shocker to me was that the things I was so focused on had very little correlation to what I hoped was true of me in the end. Yep, a wake-up call for sure! So, what are your priorities? How about setting some goals and making great use of your calendar to make them a reality in your life? You, and the most important relationships around you, will be glad you did. It really is true, time flies.