Leader.co.za - Management, Training and Career Advice for Business Leaders

03 DECEMBER 2018
How many days of this year have you lived?

by Alan Hosking: Publisher of HR Future, South Africa's human strategy magazine, and a Leadership Renewal Coach for senior executives.

As we get to the end of another year, the inevitable soul searching starts.

People who have thrown themselves into their careers over the past 11 months start asking themselves what they have done with the past year and whether it has made any difference to their hopes and dreams.

If you take your career seriously, chances are you’ve given it your best shot this year. You’ve made sacrifices in terms of time, you’ve gone the extra mile for the company, and you’ve tried to score some major points to help you progress up the corporate ladder.

But how much living have you done?

Seventeenth century satirist and poet, Jonathan Swift, made a very interesting point when he said, “May you live every day of your life.”

Could I ask you how many days of this past year you have actually lived? Have you lived only over weekends, have you lived maybe one or two days each week, or have you lived every single day?

Of course, the question we need to ask ourselves is: what is living? Naturally, the answer could be anything, depending on who answers it, but if we were to be honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that there are some fairly common things that are involved in “living” – like being present in the moment, for one.

Being present in the moment will ensure that you are living exactly where you should be living – in the here and now. Too many people are living in the past and their friends are regret and bitterness. Such people long back to a time they have convinced themselves was much happier than the present. The advantage of living in the present is that the present is your moment of power. You can only ever live in the present because all you and I will ever have is now.

Others live in the future and fall prey to what John Lennon was referring to when he said, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans.” If you choose to live in the future, you are choosing to forego the opportunity to live in your moment of power in order to live in a time that may never happen as you think/hope it will.

Do you know what you’re looking at when you look in the mirror? You’re looking at who you were over the past one, two or 10 years. You’re looking at the person you are now as a result of the decisions you did or didn’t make over the past 10 years. Light travelling from a star thousands of light years away reaches us thousands of years after it left that star. This means that we are not seeing that star as it is today. We’re seeing that star as it was 1 000 years ago when that light left it. That star could explode right now but our descendants would only find that out in a thousand years’ time.

Don’t therefore live in the past or the future, because you have no power there. Choose to live every day of your life in the here and now so that you do not get to the end of another year and punish yourself because of the regrets you experience – regrets that you did not spend the time you should have with your partner, your children, your parents, your friends or your pets.

Don’t live in front of the TV. There’s nothing wrong with watching good shows, but if you’re using the TV to babysit your mind while you’re “away” (not choosing to live in the present), you’re going to turn around one day and find that your life has been stolen by TV actors and actresses who have not helped you in any way to live a better, richer, happier life. Only you can do that for yourself.

I encourage you to start living on a daily basis. If you feel that you let this year slip by without living too many days of it, there’s no time like the present to start living on a daily basis. Once you get into the habit it becomes second nature and you become one of the few who can say, I’ve lived a wonderfully fulfilling life.”

Start living on a daily basis before the year end rush prevents you from doing so!
Useful resources:

HR Future
HR Future is South Africa's only independent, most forward thinking human resource magazine with the richest content wealth of HR related issues on the continent of Africa to help executives recruit, manage, train, reward and retain the best talent. Visit our InfoCentre or website.

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