Before the twelve strikes of midnight reach their culmination on December 31, chances are you have either thought about or prepared a New year’s resolutions list. After all, this is the time when many put their year into perspective and think about changes and new goals. Every New Year brings the promise of a fresh start. A blank canvas where you can colorfully express your wishes.
New Year resolutions lists come in every shape or form. Some are bold and adventurous, some are determined and positive, others are wishful thinking. Depending how realistic or unrealistic they may be, I can guarantee that the most important factor for the success or failure of your list will be how you manage your Time.
Before clocks, human beings used the sun, the stars and the seasons as guidance to organize their time. How well you managed time and used it to your advantage, determined not only your survival but also your success.
In the Middle Ages there were numerous occasions when opponents would agree on a particular time frame for hostilities to begin. It was a respectful code of conduct. You knew what to expect and when to expect it. Then it was left to skill, strategy and luck to play their part. Nowadays, surprise attacks can be key to achieve success on the battlefield.
Time can go fast or slow depending on our perception and often we wish we could turn back the clock or even stop time. Truces may be the closest we’ve come to stopping time. Time doesn’t really stop but it can feel that way. I’m sure that is what WWI soldiers felt at the Western Front in 1914 when they decided to make the famous Christmas truce. In the week leading up to Christmas, the opposing sides, German and British met on a neutral ground to celebrate Christmas. They mingled, sang Christmas carols, exchanged food, souvenirs and played football. They also buried together their dead and exchanged prisoners. For a short period it felt like they had stopped time, the horror of war and in the spirit of Christmas were finally able to celebrate life.
The reality is Time controls our lives. Expressions like “Time is everything”, “Time will tell”, “Time heals everything”, “make Time”, “don’t waste Time” “Time is of the essence”, Time is money” and thousands of other expressions are ingrained in our vocabularies and our lives.
For thousand of years, we have been obsessed with measuring time accurately. Since the first mechanical clocks were invented in 14th century Europe, the evolution of time devices has been incredible. Clocks are everywhere, in the streets, stations, workplace, schools, phones, you can’t really escape them unless you live in a desert island or in the middle of nowhere without any external contacts. It is true what they say, Time can work for us or against us.
And that is why we need to learn how to make the most of it. Without fully grasping the concept of time and without managing it well, I believe no New Year’s resolutions list can really succeed.
So without further ado, here are my New Year’s resolutions and my advice on how to learn to use Time wisely to achieve your goals.
- Don’t leave for tomorrow what I can enjoy and experience today!
Travelling is a passion for me and I want to continue to explore this wonderful planet of ours while I still can. Often we postpone trips, places we always dreamt of visiting because we feel there is still plenty of time. One day, we tell ourselves, I will get there. Many people also say, one day when we retire, we will definitely get there. Don’t wait! If you have the means, the health and the will, do it now! Nobody knows how much time we have on this planet or how our health will evolve so don’t wait!
If I had waited now I would never have had the opportunity to explore the whole of Syria, to visit the Christian enclave of Maaloula and hear aramaic for the first time or visit Palmyra in all its glory, explore the souks in Damascus and Aleppo and many other places before the war brought destruction and death. Or I would never have gone to Yemen and seen beautiful Sana’a and its market before the airstrikes and the civil war. These are just a few examples of places I explored that are no longer safe or accessible. So whatever your passion, if you can, make time, do it while you still can!
- Exercise more and eat healthier!
Yes, I also have what must be the most popular items in everyone’s list and the most prone to failure! We all start full of enthusiasm and then slowly Time gets in the way! It tells you to forget about it, that you have to much on your plate, you are too busy, there is just no time! Well, you just have to make time!
This year I got a terrible cold and cough that stayed with me forever so I really didn’t get to exercise as I would normally do. But no more excuses! Usually I would go Nordic walking in the early morning but in January I am going to start improving my German and will have classes from 9 to 12 everyday. Then at some point I have to eat and get my daughter from school at 3 on the other side of the city. So I wondered what to do. The easiest way out would be to give in to Time and not do it for the duration of the course. But I don’t surrender to time that easy so I finally figured out that I can walk part of the way home. It is still a considerable distance. I will start slowly and the stronger I get, the more I can increase my walking distance.
Whether you work or not, you can also do it. If you don’t have the time to go to a gym during lunch break, walk! Leave your car in the parking lot, avoid any public transport and just use your feet to get to the restaurant and then leave enough time to walk back. Take the long way back. Reduce the food portions as well. I believe it is much healthier if you make your own lunch and take it to work, but if you must eat at a restaurant, ask for half portions. Be aware of big salads too. They sound and look healthy but unless you ask for the sauce on the side, restaurant salads have enormous amount of oil and fat.
When I worked in my country, I had two hours for lunch. I took one to exercise in a nearby gym and then the extra hour to eat my lunch and relax. Often I did my own lunch, other times I would just eat small balanced restaurant portions.
- Stop wasting time with people!
No, I’m not saying I will become a hermit and isolate myself from the world! But there are two kinds of people you should avoid at all costs, the “negative” and the “takers”. These are people who will drain your energy, exhaust you and will for sure put you in a terrible mood. We all know the negative type, he or she will complain about everything! If it rains, it’s terrible, we will get wet. If it’s sunny, it’s too hot, we may get a heat stroke. If a “negative” person get sicks, death is near! You get the idea!
When I lived in Kenya many years ago, I met someone that complained all the time about the country. She would repeat often that if she had a plane (there was an airport and planes you could board!), she would leave Kenya never to return again. But her husband was working there so she said there was no option for her, poor her! Then her husband got posted in Paris and I thought she would be thrilled, but no! Paris was apparently too big, too expensive, she would have to speak French and she went on and on and on! Negative people are simply incapable of relaxing and enjoying life.
Then you have the takers who may even be worse. They take everything you have to give and run with it. Your friendship, your efforts, your kindness, your love even and never feel like they need to reciprocate in any way. They are demanding and needy, it is all about them and never about you. And often, when you need them, they are either too busy or unavailable.
So basically what these two kind of people take is your positive energy and your precious Time! Don’t let them! When you see them coming, run the other way!
- Read more!
Books have been part of my life since I can remember. I grew up reading all sorts of genres and authors. And books have always accompanied me to different countries and continents. They go with me everywhere and whenever I settle down in a different place it does not feel like home until I unpack them again and reorganize them in my bookshelves. I’m still a paper fan and will always be. Feeling a book in my hand feels right and cosy. But I do see the convenience of owning a Kindle, particularly when I travel and take the public transports.
So where to find the time to read more. I read a lot in public transports, it takes me about half an hour to get to my daughter’s school so I read. I try to take the bus and not the subway because it is a longer and quieter ride but I can read anywhere. Another way of reading more is cutting down on tv. If instead of spending the time watching tv, you put some relaxing music and read, you can achieve much more. You can always divide the time if you really have to, a bit of TV and then reading or vice versa. I usually do it after I put my daughter to bed and the house is quieter. Sometimes I forget how easy it can be and I get distracted with other things but I really need to remind myself to get more focused. It is also time you can use to spend time with your husband and relax. Music and books are always a winning combination.
- Learn something new
I guess German would fall into this category in my case. Although it is not new and I’m able to understand much more now, I want to master it and be able to speak and write it properly. I do speak 4 languages but I had never thought about German until I met my husband. So now it is time! I also want to improve my knowledge on photography and writing.
Whatever it is you would like to learn, take the leap. Don’t hesitate. Every city offers after work courses on almost any subject. Find what feels right for you and just do it. A few years back I was living in Switzerland and I was interested in a few courses at Geneva University but I didn’t want to enroll full time. I discovered that for a small fee I could actually attend classes without having any further obligations. It was great, I learned about things that had always interested me without pressure, just for the pleasure of it. Many universities do offer this opportunity and it opens a world of possibilities.
- Never forget to make time for myself
If you have a family like me, it is only natural to want to spend as much time as possible together. My daughter is five so she still requires a lot of attention and guidance. She is on holidays from school so I don’t have so much time to write and do my things. Today we made an agreement, she was going to let me write in the morning and in the afternoon I would take her to the Natural History Museum. She is a wonderful little girl, she painted, played games and kept her promise and I kept mine. We had a great time in the afternoon. I tend to write more in the morning to give more attention to my husband and daughter when they return home.
But there are times, I need to have time alone. To go out for a walk with my camera, go to a museum, exercise in the park and just be by myself. That alone time is precious, it opens my thoughts to new creative ideas and helps me relax. Thanks to that I could walk in beautiful Vienna for a few hours and find all these clocks that inspired me to write this post.
It is important to make time for yourself even if it is just for an hour. And for once make Time work for you.
Finally I hope you will find the odd occasion to leave your watch at home, hide your phone in your deep pocket or handbag if you can’t part with it and don’t look! Let yourself get lost in your city without worrying about Time and timetables. Ignore Time! Make it stop for you for a change. See how it feels.
Have a wonderful New Year full of successes, happy moments and great health. May all your items in your New Year’s Resolution list get checked. Believe you can use time to your advantage and don’t let Time condition your life.
Happy New Year!!!