In the context of your relationship with time, where do you normally ‘hang out?’ In the past, present or future? We can invest our thoughts and energy within these three distinct time frames. But most of us don’t think of time this way. To most people, time is just that … time.
But it isn’t really.
We actually have a sub-conscious relationship with time! We actually experience time and, by default, we tend to hang out in the time frame where we feel most comfortable. Of course we will periodically shift in and out of other time frames, but as a general rule, we all have a bias.
See if any of these biases resonate with you:
Visionaries are Future-focused. They prefer to look forward, project into the future and pursue longer-range goals and achievements. Their life is lived today in the context of the future. How they feel about today is informed by how they feel about the future.
Historians reflect on the Past. They base their perspectives, beliefs and feelings on their past experiences and their assessment of the past. Their degree of satisfaction with daily life is heavily influenced by their thoughts and ideas about the past.
Lastly, there are many who live primarily in the Present. This group loses track of time, they live in the moment, and experience every moment in isolation. Their satisfaction is measured by how each moment feels, and they lose all sense of time.
We all have very personal ways that we interact with time, so it’s important to remember that this isn’t black and white. But stay with me and let’s play with this concept a little more …
When we bring our time frame bias to our everyday thoughts and actions, it has a dramatic impact on our feelings of satisfaction and on our overall results. This can happen by default (which is generally the case), or it can happen by design, which builds our awareness of our relationship with time. For example:
- Are you one of those people who has trouble appreciating the present and enjoying the moment?
- Or are you someone who has difficulty projecting into the future?
- Or do you sometimes feel a little lost in time or slightly disoriented?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your time frame bias is overpowering your ability to experience the expansiveness of time and not allowing you to see yourself on the time continuum.
If you are a visionary, always looking forward with limited consideration for the past, then you have no context for the present. If there is no past, then where is the present in the context of the future? This may serve you well in terms of building a successful career, but is it at the cost of being present for your family? This is where the concept of finding a balance applies.
If you are an historian, looking back without considering the future, then again, it is difficult to determine the present time frame because you have no transition point from past to future to reference. This may give you a broad perspective to inform your decisions, but are you able to translate it into productive action? Unless you are an academic, you will need to learn to apply the perspective you gain through your historian lens to build toward a better future.
Lastly, if you’re present-focused and always in the moment, without much thought for the future or the past, then your bias disregards the past and ignores the future. You have no sense of time to orient you in your present experience. Although this orientation translates into short-term pleasure and variety in your life, it tends to be less fulfilling, devoid of a sense of meaning and accomplishment.
Why is this important? When we live our lives and make decisions based solely on our time frame bias, we rob ourselves of the richness of experience and opportunity that comes with seeing the bigger picture. By seeing a map of our lives and knowing where we are today in relation to where we have been and where we want to go, we open our minds to a host of possibilities that we wouldn’t otherwise see. And this makes all the difference.
So here is your opportunity, should you choose to take it: reflect on your relationship with time. Notice the ways that it supports you to grow, how it influences your decisions and actions. Is it supporting you or hindering your progress in some way? Once you are aware, you can make more conscious choices and experience every moment in the context of your life as a whole. That’s the real power of your relationship with time.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and insights on this once you’ve had some time to play with it!
To your Success, Differently!