I have been reflecting a lot lately on the topic of time. Time is a finite resource and we only have so much of it to harness and share. As I encounter other busy professionals, I am always struck by the common struggle we all have to find enough time for work, time for family, time for friends, time to relax…you get the picture. I wrote a post a few years ago on this challenge called Living Life in Real Time about best practices for taking charge of our busy calendars. If you are seeking best practices to more effectively manage your time, check it out.
I would like to channel my inner Seth Godin in this short post and narrowly explore time as a gift, applied through a spirit of generosity. If we look at our time as a gift to share and not simply a resource to manage, we open the aperture of possibilities to transform time into something more noble and worthwhile. Acting with generosity…our time is a gift…something more noble…think about it.
In my opinion, there are four primary beneficiaries of our gifts of time:
- Ourselves. Yes, time can be a gift we give ourselves. There is an ever-growing need for all of us to practice better self-care and invest in addressing our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. Remember, when the plane is going down, you should always put your own oxygen mask on first.
- Families, friends and neighbors. Every precious and distraction-free minute I spend with my wife and children is a priceless investment in our family’s well-being that is irreplaceable. Investing time in my friends, neighbors and extended family helps me stay plugged into a larger world of meaningful relationships that enriches me beyond measure.
- Our work colleagues. A struggling co-worker, a younger colleague in need of development or a team in need of our energy/ideas/expertise can all benefit from our investments of time. Instead of looking at the busy daily work calendar as a nuisance, let’s look at each scheduled hour as a way to generously invest our time in the service of others.
- Our communities and great causes. Rather than allowing our generosity to be restricted to online donations, how can we give more of our ourselves (and our time) to our local communities, our faith communities or non-profits we support? How can we show up and involve our families and friends in our efforts as well? A job-seeker we can help? A student we can mentor?
As you read this, I encourage you to look at the various roles and responsibilities you have as opportunities to be generous and wonderful opportunities to share your time. I am a husband, father, Catholic, business leader, executive coach, friend, community servant, son, uncle and brother. The responsibilities from these numerous roles are blessings, not burdens, and I see them as ways to connect to people I care about and truly wish to serve. In my experience, every time investment we make signals to the recipient that they are important. They matter. They are worth the time and are valued.
The best way I can help, serve and enrich my relationships with the people in my life is to be fully present and make quality time for them. This is one of the most valuable gifts I can share and I hope to learn new ways to offer it in the years to come.
If your time is a gift, how will you share it today?