The last few weeks have been pretty rough. A nice young fellow who cleaned my antique cars was killed in a New Year’s Eve altercation with a gun-wielding criminal. Several of my friends and acquaintances, including one former student, are going through cancer treatments. A close friend of mine recently lost his wife to a sudden heart attack. Another friend’s husband – six years younger than me – is on life support and may well not make it due to the flu and pneumonia.
Now that I have you cheered up, let me make my point: A lot of bad stuff happens to good people. I don’t think any of them got up in the morning expecting whatever befell them that day.
You have to use your time wisely. Time is one of the (very) few things money can’t buy. When your time is up, it’s done. We all could probably do better living each day as if it were to be our last, although the truth is none of us often do. Here are some things to think about:
- Spend time with the people you care about. Besides the obvious family members and loved ones, this also includes who you spend time with at the office. Who inspires you? Who are you mentoring? Ditto for clients. Which ones do you really care about as people? Give the people who matter the benefit of your attention.
- Be willing to take some risk. You don’t have unlimited time to be successful in life or make your life what you want it to be. Calculated risk and the ability to understand risk versus reward is one of the distinguishing characteristics between real entrepreneurs and everyone else. You cannot keep putting off all risk thinking it makes you smart. Real accomplishment is probably going to take real risks (and sacrifice).
- Stop wasting so much time. When you are really busy and have a million commitments, it’s one thing to take some time to relax and recharge the batteries. This could be called “productive time-wasting” because there is a benefit that comes from it. I contrast this with non-productive time wasting. That includes things such as wasting hours every day on social media or playing repetitive computer games versus interacting with real people or doing something productive with your time. Too many people waste too much time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
- Increase your time (above ground) as much as you can. Better diet, exercise, not smoking, stress reduction – all of these are important. Go to the doctor for regular checkups. I cannot understand people who go five or 10 years without a checkup. Makes no sense. Get your lab work done and ward off problems.
- Get on those long-term projects NOW. Time to start making headway on building that vacation house, restoring your dad’s first car, writing your novel, implementing that ownership transition program in your firm, or whatever else it is you have been talking about doing for a long time. Now. Not later.
Contrary to what The Rolling Stones said, time is not on your side. Better start acting like you know that before it’s too late!
Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.