Everyone has an “auto-biography” whether or not it is written down in words. How we live our lives, what Annie Dillard calls how we “spend” our days is how we “spend” our lives. I want to suggest that instead of thinking of this time, (past, present and future), as spending, we think of it as investing. Here’s Annie from The Writing Life, published in 1989:\
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern.”
Decades later, some eight of them, I do not find myself on a lifeboat nor, gratefully, on life support. Each day is not the same and the past is not a blurred and powerful pattern. Yes, there are patterns, ways and places where I invested myself, and the returns on my investments have been enormous, far more than I might have expected. What I choose to do with this hour, whether writing these words or taking a walk is within my freedom of choice and for that I am filled with gratitude, both for being consciously able to choose and to act on that investment of time to my own, and perhaps others’ benefit. Some investments proved not to be the best but the portfolio overall has a very positive return.
My life thus far has been one of purpose and passion, being able to choose work that I believe is meaningful and that contributes to the lives of others, whether students, colleagues, friends and family or the community where I live and work. Since I love what I do, and do what I love, I did not and do not think of what I do as work unless you call it a labor of love. The investments of time, energy, effort, talent, and resources have paid tremendous dividends for me personally and professionally. Perhaps I have been lucky or blessed and if you accept this definition of luck, it may help explain part of this experience. “Luck is preparation for being present at the moment of opportunity.” (Seneca, Oprah, et. al.)\
Do you make choices that are conscious and intentional?
Do you believe you are using the gift of time in ways that are beneficial to yourself and others?
As you mark the days, weeks and months of a given year are you satisfied with the results?
Is your return on your investment of time & energy paying dividends that you can reinvest?
Would you like to change your investment strategies? Short-term, long-term or both?
If yes, what is it that is keeping you from making those changes?
Looking ahead, what is your plan? Do you have a trusted “advisor” who helps you when needed?