A survey done by US News and World Report came out several years ago. They had spoken with 6000 people and used the answers they gave to calculate how the average American, who lives to be 80, will spend the time they have. As I read over the results, and began to consider how I use my time, it really made me rethink a few things. Read it over and see where you fit in.
According to the survey, the average American will spend 3 months sitting at stoplights, 3 months opening junk mail, 6 months looking for misplaced objects, 1 year making phone calls, 2 year texting, 3 years on vacation, 4 years doing housework, 4 years waiting in line, 5 years watching some form of sports or video game, 6 years eating. Those who are active in hunting or fishing will spend 8 full years in pursuit of their sport, and we all spent 25 years sound asleep.
I don’t know about you, but those figures really bothered me. Time is the most precious commodity we have and when it over it’s over. How we spend it, waste it or invest it is up to each of us. You will not be on your deathbed and be given a winning ticket to have a “do-over”. Nobody gets to go back and relive those moments when they could have made a difference in another life, and didn’t.
When asked how they felt they wasted time, the majority of the people said they were usually in a hurry, or running late, and were feeling over committed to things that really were not a priority. In other words their priorities were all wrong and they knew it, but did not know how to correct the problem. For instance parents said they had no time for their children because of work. They often have to work late to catch up, they fight traffic all the way home and walk through the door too exhausted emotionally and physically to give their kids any personal attention.
People are impatient with those they meet on the street and ignore those they stand next to in line. They are in a hurry to get some place, may be glued to a cellphone or focused on sending out that all-important text. The art of personal conversation is nearly dead, and honest heart-felt concern for another seems to almost be a thing of the past. Why? Because it takes time to do these things.
We run late for meetings, are frustrated by any delay and then arrive only to find that others are running even later than us. We are late for church, for work, for dates and promised vacations. We are late for funerals and weddings, birthdays and ball games. Why? Because we don’t know how to manage the time we have and we waste much of what we do have on things that can’t be changed, or are not that important.
Let me encourage you to take a moment and think about the “time suckers” in your life. What things are a pure waste of time because they are forced on you, but produce nothing? For instance, when you eat dinner is there silence? Start an engaging conversation. When waiting in line are you silently staring at the floor? You could speak to those around you and learn something about them. When stuck in traffic do you become upset and irritable? Why not slip in a teaching CD and begin to learn French? When you are home are you too busy to give quality time to your kids? No matter what, set time aside daily to give them undivided attention and they will love you for it, and do the same for their kids.
Time is all we really have to give away to others. It costs us nothing but can mean everything. A kind word spoken to one who is troubled, or a patient look and thoughtful comment to another who is struggling, are time treasures in life. If we simply take the time, we can give these out to all who need them and leave a trail of peace, healing and blessing behind us. I want to make a difference as I pass through this world. When my time comes, I want to know I have invested the time I had in such a way that it brings increase to all who are left behind. This, my friends, is a life well lived and it’s the kind we all can have. Just take the time!