I’ve got a little exercise for you. Imagine yourself having reached 100 years, you’re in a rocking chair on the porch of your retirement home and you are looking back at your life. Ask yourself: what do you want to have achieved? What do you want people to say about you at your 100th birthday party or even at your funeral?
It probably won’t be that you (or they) wished you had spent more time at work. It’s much more likely to be you wished you’d spent more time with family, with friends and that you’d truly been living a full life.
It’s so easy to say ‘I should make more time for myself or my friends or family’ but so hard to do when we’re busy – and work often takes priority.
My favourites quote is: “When you’ve spent all your money you can always go out and earn some more; but when you’ve spent all your time it’s gone forever.”
Of course it’s good to work hard and it’s important to love your job, I’m not advocating laziness! But I was brought up to enjoy life while you can because you never know how long it is going to last.
It may not come naturally to you but it’s something you can learn if you want. The first step is to clarify what (or more likely who) are your top priorities.
Once you know that and can clearly visualise it – ideally because you have written it down somewhere – then whenever you have to make any important decision, ask yourself if it will hurt or help what is most important to you.
I always prioritise family, health and friends – and I still work very hard.
I remember once I was really busy at work and a good friend asked me to come and help her choose her wedding dress that day. I didn’t really have the time but I thought: friends are one of my highest priorities, I do have a choice and helping my friend is more important to me than work, so off we went to the shops and found her perfect dress for the day.
Most of the time you don’t have to choose and you can do both, but when you do have to choose, make sure you make the right choice. It’s the top priority – not the fifth one!
Learn from the people whose lives are ending, don’t wish you had laughed more and worked less. Today is a good day, celebrate being alive, being healthy and enjoy what you have.