Time is the worst renewable resource. Absolutely the worst. Unlike coal or crude oil, time doesn’t even give you the option of not using it. Your time will be used whether or not you use it for anything deliberate, purposeful, or meaningful. Time continually evaporates. Completely ambivalent to you and your needs.
While you can’t get a moment (or any other measure of time) back to do over, there’s likely a next moment. I say likely because there’s no guarantee. Our world is huge, complex, and filled with all kinds of risks – both banal and deadly. While 25% fewer people died in US car crashes in 2014 compared to 2005 – 32,675 people still died. That’s not even mentioning the rare, high-profile events we hear on the news every few weeks. Or an unexpected slip on the ice.
This means we’re in the exhausting position of continually and constantly making priority decisions for how use the next moment. I say ‘exhausting’ because making decisions – sorting, comparing, prioritizing, selecting – is one of the most energy-intensive activities for you and your brain. By some calculations – our brain burns 90 calories an hour. Each additional decision, each additional thought, each additional consideration – no matter how small – depletes energy from the same source. As that energy is depleted, as we become fatigued, we make far less optimal decisions.
We then allow time to evaporate around us.
We’ve all had the experience of stepping away from your desk at 5pm, walking to the train station, and spending the trip wondering what – of any consequence – you did for the past 8 hours. There are some vague memories of being pulled into unscheduled meetings, unexpected hallway conversations, some amusing and unmemorable cat videos, but no movement on hard things, important things. There just wasn’t time to focus on them as we spend the day reacting and recovering. Also lacking, the satisfying sense of accomplishment.
Herein lies the duality.
We began the day with an intention – however lightly we committed to it. As the day progressed, our intention met reality. Things we hadn’t accounted for, thing no matter how positive, still pushed our intention into another moment. A moment that while likely – and as such we will plan for – is not guaranteed.