Posts Tagged ‘time’

Earlier this week a meme that I ignored for awhile was making the rounds on Facebook where a friend gives you a number and you must answer, as your status, a few basic poll questions about yourself when you were that age. For instance, my sister wrote:

My number is…17
I wanted to be: in Europe ALL summer
I was scared of: NOTHING, ‘cept maybe getting a hole in my waterbed
Favorite show(s): Fame
Favorite food(s): mom’s spaghetti, dad’s grill, Luigi’s pizza, Big John Steak n Onion
Favorite drink(s): Coke in glass bottles

Later in the day, I read a post from the blog of Michael Hyatt (former Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers) titled What Do You Wish You Knew Then That You Know Now? (which was actually a guest post from Adam Donyes.) Somehow this captured my imagination in a way that the Facebook thing did not. The connection to me was the idea of looking back at who you used to be, once upon a time.

The Hyatt post had the potential to be a dreary excavation of a person’s lifelong regrets (in his terms, folly), but it was not. Instead, it was a study of success. The author’s premise was that age brings wisdom – the kind of wisdom that makes you say things like, “I didn’t even know how much I didn’t know.” (Let’s face facts: was there ever a time in our lives like our college years, where we were sure we had all the answers and frankly, knew it all?) His train of thought logically progressed to another idea – mainly, that at this present point in his timeline there is surely a similar body of knowledge and wisdom as yet undiscovered. So:

“Rather than accept the fact that folly was inevitable, I spent the past twelve months polling fifteen respectable men I admire – men that have lived lives of integrity, men who are faithful husbands, and have been deemed successful in their chosen vocation… The question I asked these fifteen men was this, ‘What are three things you know now that you wish you knew when you were thirty?’ I was hoping that these men would share the folly they had experienced as leaders and in life, so that I might not repeat their mistakes.”

(The results are great. You should check them out.)

It got me thinking about the person I once was. My number is… 23.
I wanted to be: a wealthy college graduate
I was scared of: dying alone
Favorite show(s): Anything on Comedy Central
Favorite food(s): Danish meatballs, pizza, lasagna
Favorite drink(s): Beer. Lots of beer.

I now look upon that guy as “Least likely to live up to his potential.”

And, a la Adam Donyes (with a little Marty McFly mixed in), what would I tell that 23-year old guy were I to meet him in 1989?

  • Stay out of debt. The idea that you need to build your FICO is a trap.
  • Sell your TV. Nothing good ever came from the hours you wasted in front of it.
  • If you want good friends, be a great one. To everyone you meet.
  • The best cure for laziness is activity. Work like hell while you can (i.e., when you’re young), and start investing the extra – even if it’s only $50 a month.
  • The trick to quitting the smokes is that only the first three days are intolerable. After that it gets easier. (And you know it would have been better not to start.)
  • What steps did you take this week to be that “wealthy college graduate”? Do something next week to make sure your answer isn’t “nothing” again next week.
  • Call your grandma.
  • Yes, there really is a God. He loves you, and cares what happens to you. He’s also a lot smarter than you are, so you should probably let him decide what path you should take. Ironically, there’s a lot of freedom in that.
  • God has someone special in mind for you. But not until you both grow up. A lot.
  • Atlanta Braves tickets are likely pretty cheap right about now. 1991 is going to be an excellent year to grab a suite for the season.

Granted, that last pearl of wisdom is probably of no use to the youth of today, but the others are golden. Or pearly. Whatever. The point is that if I had spent more time pondering, “What is the wise thing to do?” and less time searching for “What is the fun thing to do?”, I might have saved myself a ton of trouble and a decade or two of wasted effort.

The takeaway? These are still excellent pieces of advice that I can use, even today. If I continue to adhere to these principles for the next 25 years perhaps I’ll have, instead of advice, a list of things I’m glad I did right. One can hope.

Did you ever look to someone older and wiser for clues to a better life? Ever engage in the whimsical fantasy of traveling through time to speak to your younger or older self? Tell me your story in the comments section.

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Things sure have changed here on Walton’s Mountain… but some things never change, especially that creeping feeling that my to-do lists are not a voluntary plan I’ve devised for my time but rather are a sinister underworld plan concocted by demons and devils to keep me shackled to a lifestyle devoid of entertainment, peace and contentment.

In March, I erroneously spied a light at the end of the tunnel. Turns out it was an oncoming train.

Shortly after Pappy was settled into a comfortable routine, Carol and I volunteered to host Financial Peace at our church – obligating us to seventeen weeks of planning, coordinating and leadership. Now that it’s over, whew, it was one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever taken on. I must be sure to remember how that felt when brainstorming for potential businesses I may decide to launch.

Now the pressure is on for planning the Haunt. I’ve got two months to wrap it up. My to-do list had this task being finished back in January. As usual, this looks like it may turn into another last-minute, can’t-believe-it-turned-out-this-good event.

The only other responsibility to which I’ve obligated myself is our Faith Lessons on Sunday mornings. Also very fulfilling, but a little bit of a job – not because the lessons require it, but because I feel compelled to work a little extra to make it nicer and more meaningful for everyone.

My lists may not be getting smaller, but they are consistantly interesting. And they keep me on task, aware, focused and disciplined.

Friday August 15, 2008 – 10:21am (EDT)

It doesn’t seem possible that it’s almost April already. I had so many plans that should have come to fruition by now. I distincly remember last November thinking that January, maybe February at the latest would be the month where my free time finally became available to me again. Ha! No such luck.

Although I continue to make progress on my to-do lists, I always seem to remain “just a few more weeks” away from that mythical situation – a day with nothing special going on and the opportunity to just head out on an adventure or two. It’s like the shimmery mirage in the desert that keeps just out of reach even though you keep walking toward it.

So I set deadlines and make lists, because without them I would simply flop around the living room in confusion, making whimpering noises and wiping the drool from the corners of my mouth.

Pappy will be moving in next Saturday. Which means that my son has to move out of his old bedroom and into the new one by Friday night. Which means that construction on the new bedroom has to be complete by Thursday night. Which means that I have to finish painting in there tonight. Oddly enough, I could have had the room finished two months ago, but nobody gave me a concrete deadline. Or rather, they kept moving the deadline back because they weren’t ready, which was okay with me and gave me time to procrastinate by tackling other things on other lists. There are always LOTS of things on LOTS of other lists. We spent our last three-day weekend going through 800 lbs of paperwork that has accumulated over several years (no really, 800 lbs!).

I will have earned my vacation, which occurs in a week. I’m not going anywhere, I just need the rest. Unfortunately, the kids also have that week off from school, so they’re likely to want to do, go, see, call, shop, visit, play and watch something every couple of hours. They don’t have the imagination that kids used to have coming up with inventive ways to entertain themselves. Don’t get me wrong – I remember being incredible bored an awful lot as a kid, but I certainly knew that I couldn’t count on my folks to hand me something entertaining to do. It was up to me and my friends to invent something to occupy us.

I can see that I am going to have to create some firm but artificial deadlines in my life if I’m ever going to see a day where I can once again say, “I’ve got nothing to do. Let’s do something fun today.” Maybe in a week or two. Or a few weeks after that.

Wednesday March 26, 2008 – 03:42pm (EDT)