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  • Writer's pictureLaura Burke - Coach

Who Knows Where The Time Goes?

When I was little, my mom used to sing to my sister and me when she put us to bed, sometimes put on a record or two. One record often played was Judy Collins Colors of the Day, which had a strange but enchanting song with whale sounds, and a song titled “Who Knows Where the Time Goes.”

Time is the theme of many songs. Janet talks about how time flies and Michael remembers the time. The Rolling Stones said time was on their side. Cher wanted to turn back time. The Eagles hope to find that time wasn’t wasted. The S.O.S. band tells us to take our time, do it right.

Time seems to have different speeds. It can go by so quickly, like when you’re at an amazing party, wrapped up in a favorite hobby, or when you’re trying to get a million things done. It can go by so slowly, like when you’re trying to hold a plank, at a job you don’t love, or eagerly waiting for a package to arrive. And yet, the seconds are always ticking by at the same speed.

Time is often considered one of our most valuable commodities. You can make more money, replace cars or other possessions. You can rebuild businesses. But you can’t make more time. Once a second, a minute, an hour has ticked by, it is in the past. There are 24 hours in each day, no more and no less.

Treat time as precious and protect it.

It is so easy to get drawn into doing one thing or another and all of a sudden be shocked how much time has passed! If you were doing something you really didn’t care about, this can cause feelings of disappointment or frustration. Or, one thing after another just seems to pop up in your day, and at the end you realize, deflated, that you didn’t do what you had wanted to do. To avoid these feelings, protect your time fiercely. Don’t let other people or things take it without your permission. Get clear on how you want to spend your time and then be intentional – plan it out.

Planning doesn’t mean mapping out every minute of every day for the rest of your life. It can mean making a schedule for the next day with chunks of time for the things you want to do. It can be just deciding what to do next and how long you want to do it. Some days, it means planning to just go with the flow and soak in whatever comes your way. The point is, by being intentional in how you spend your time you can feel good about it before, during and after. And, by being intentional, it’s easier to delay, defer, or deny those things that inevitably pop up.

Being clear what you want and don’t want to spend time on helps create guard rails. Only you can decide what goes in each category, what you say yes to and what you say no to. Imagine your day like a highway, each day like a video game. All the things you want to do are in the road ahead, you ‘complete them’ as you pick them up along your daily drive. On the grassy embankments on either side of the road are all the ‘time wasters’ – the things that don’t give you joy or help you achieve your goals. Sometimes the embankments are weedy and have no appeal. Other times, though, there are wildflowers on the embankment and you may be drawn to just go see how they look up close because they look so pretty from far away! As you start swerving towards the embankment, you bump into those guardrails which remind you: you didn’t want to go there. You can always change your mind – pull over and go pick some wildflowers… but at least now it is a conscious decision.

Trust and know that time is abundant.

Abundance is a mentality, meaning plentiful, that there is always enough, for everyone. Time is abundant. I didn’t always feel this way. I typically have a very analytical and logical way of thinking, and I would get quite caught up in thinking about how long each task or activity would take, and when I looked at the days and weeks there just didn’t seem to be enough time to fit everything in. There’s only so early I could start my day, or how late I could stay up! It was like a puzzle with too many pieces and it felt stressful.

When I started thinking of time from a mindset of prosperity and possibility, and literally just deciding to believe that time was abundant, everything changed. Simply believing that there was enough time to do whatever I truly wanted to do created such an indescribable shift in how I felt. It was like a thick fog had lifted. Feeling differently may have been enough on its own, but miraculously I started seeing ways to adjust my days to include things I hadn’t been able to figure out how to ‘fit in’ before. I started seeing some things that could be done more efficiently, outsourced, or simply deleted from my list.

Even now, when I have moments of overwhelm, the easiest way to get past it is to literally just say to myself “It’s OK – there is plenty of time to do whatever I truly want to do.” It is very centering, grounding, and reminds me to make sure the things on my list are of my choosing. A few deep breaths and that reminder to myself helps me both feel better and decide how I want to spend my time. It’s my secret little ‘reset’ button.

It may seem contradictory to protect something that is abundant but recognizing both qualities of time – that it is precious, and that there is always plenty of it – is like a magic formula.

Be truly present: keep your head and your heart where your body is.

Time can be elusive. It often feels like it went by so fast. The actual song title “Who Knows Where the Time Goes” has no question mark, because it’s a rhetorical question. The song muses on the passage of time, and is often considered quite melancholy, particularly, perhaps, since the song writer Sandy Denny died at only 31 years of age. At the end of the song, though, Denny’s lyrics reflect on things that are timeless, suggesting that she finds strength in this: “So come the storms of winter and then the birds in spring again. I have no fear of time.” Time does pass. We can gently accept this fact, and truly appreciate each day we are blessed to wake up. Appreciate each day we get to fall asleep. Do our best to be truly present in each moment, making sure our attention (our head) and our spirit (our heart) are focused on what we are doing in each moment. Enjoying the time between waking and sleeping. Filling our minutes, hours, and days meaningfully with actions that provide joy now, and allow reflection later that is filled with warmth and contentment.

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