Nothing annoys me more than the loss of time.
When I feel like I’m wasting my time on useless activities, doing meaningless things, or when I’m spending time with negative people, I get frustrated.
When it comes to time, I agree with what Darwin once said:
“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”
But I’ve found that an obsession with time can put unnecessary pressure on yourself. I see it a lot with ambitious people—anyone who wants to get the most out of life.
They feel like they have to use every single minute of life. Things have to happen: Quick, quick, now, now.
You have to keep pounding forward like a freight train that stops for nothing.
It’s great that you want to achieve a lot, and live a life of contribution, but does that mean it has to happen NOW?
But there’s a fine line between understanding the value of time, and being impatient.
One of my mentors is an entrepreneur in his late forties. When I recently told him I get impatient, he told me he’s exactly the same. He said:
“Impatience makes smart people do stupid things.”
We all try to get ahead. We work hard. Put all our energy and love in relationships. We work on ourselves — our character.
But sometimes, we feel like we’ve fallen behind.
- “I’m still sharing an apartment with 3 strangers.”
- “I’m not married yet.”
- “We still don’t have kids.”
- “My business still hasn’t taken off.”
- “I didn’t get my big break yet.”
- “I’m still waiting to become a manager.”
- “I’m stuck in the same job for years.”
- “I’m not losing weight.”
I don’t want to pretend I’m past that. We all have those feelings. And the higher you move up the ladder, the higher your standards become.
When I was in college, I couldn’t wait to get out so I could get my own place and stop sharing a dirty old apartment with three other guys. And when I started earning money I got a place of my own.
But a few years later, when I moved to London from Holland, I had to give up my two-bedroom apartment with a roof terrace to live in an apartment that was smaller, and that I had to share with a stranger. It felt like I was back at square one.
Take a step back. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Switching careers, education, cities, are all hard. In a way, you are taking a step back momentarily. But you’ll bounce back. That’s hard to remind yourself when you’re in the moment.
When I was in college, I had a marketing professor who used to be a physician. Yes, that means he studied nine or ten years to become a general practitioner. Then, he worked as a GP for a decade.
And in his forties, he decided he didn’t want to be a doctor anymore. He was always passionate about business and marketing. So he pursued a Master’s degree in business administration, and later he got a Ph.D. in marketing. I think that the whole process took him six or seven years.
And when he was my professor, he was in his late fifties. But the guy looked twenty years younger and was full of energy. He truly loved what he did. Plus, he was proud of the long road he took.
The road that you traveled turns you into the person you are today.
I meet a lot of people in their twenties who are frustrated that life is not exactly the way they want. I even meet people in their thirties and forties like that.
It’s a universal thing. And that thing is called impatience.
Like my mentor said, you do stupid things when you’re impatient.
- Do you really need to buy a house?
- Do you really want to get married?
- Do you really want to take that promotion?
- Do you really have to sell your business?
- Do you really love your job?
- Do you really have to take on that client?
Don’t do all these things because you always wanted to do those things. Don’t do things because you’re afraid of the alternative.
Because the alternative is ALWAYS harder.
- “Shit! Does that mean I have to work for free?”
- “Does that mean I have to start all over?”
- “What?! I can’t be single.”
- “Does that mean I have to study for years?”
But hardship defines you and your character.
So suit yourself up, forget about the fast train, step in a car, and prepare yourself for one LONG ride that’s called life.