Lessons for telling time

For something as dominant as the four digits that we use to tell time, it’s disappointing that there’s no manual, and not surprising that we do it wrong so often.

I’m not talking about the big hand/little hand part of announcing what time it is. I’m focused on how we use our awareness of time to screw up our narrative about life.

Here are some examples:

We focus on the days, making short-term decisions, instead of being cognizant of the years. We ignore the benefits that short-term pain can have in earning us long-term satisfaction. Which means that we often fail to invest, embracing a shortcut instead.

We rehearse the past, obsessing about sunk costs, instead of freeing ourselves up to make new decisions based on new information.

We put a stopwatch on our best experiences, ticktocking the moments instead of living in them.

But we fail to be honest about the time when we’re in a dip, or unhappy, imagining instead that it is lasting forever.

We confuse the thrill of fast-paced media with the magic of doing work that matters, even though they each take just as long.

We might have a fancy watch, but that doesn’t mean we’re good at telling time.

       


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