The 3 month year | On the shortness of life
On the Shortness of life
“It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested” -Seneca ‘on the shortness of life’
The human mind is a funny thing, it undoubtedly is the most evolved of all species on planet Earth, however still makes some of the most elementary mistakes. One of these mistakes seems to be a myopia in regards the the concept of time. Many of us live life as if tomorrow was guaranteed, we live life as if we were destined to live forever, we forget the most basic truth which is our mortality.
It is no surprise that we think this way, the concept of death has been far removed from society. Previously man was forced to kill his own food, witness the horrors of famine, and perhaps fight in war. We were exposed to death on a regular basis making our mortality very clear. In the modern age due to our increased quality of living, our organised health systems and hospitals, death is only something reserved for action movies.
We have to confront our mortality in order to take time more seriously and truly self-actualize. Seneca (the stoic philosopher) noticed that ” In guarding their fortune men are often closefisted, yet, when it comes to the matter of wasting time, in the case of the one thing in which it is right to be miserly, they show themselves most prodigal”. We as a race have become quite adept at wasting time, we have become bamboozled by our own technology. It has become common place to clock hundreds of hours on ‘League of Legends’ or to fry your grey matter watching’ The real housewives of Atlanta’. For those seeking self- actualization this madness needs to stop.
The three month year
Parkinson’s law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” . We can all recall a time when we were given an objective to complete with sufficient time, we generally ended up using the whole time given regardless of the difficulty of the objective. University students are great examples of Parkinson’s Law. When given an assignment it commonplace for students to procrastinate for the first few weeks, and to finish the assignment within a few hours before the deadline. What is uncommon is a student starting an assignment the day it is given and finishing it weeks before the deadline.
If we set our own deadlines we can create greater results for ourselves in a fraction of the time. Many of us set goals during our ‘New year resolutions’, many of these goals often become meaningless due to the huge time frame we have set for ourselves. A different approach to tackle this problem is through splitting the year into quarters much like the business world, and working on your goals in smaller time frames. This is an old idea that was highlighted to me by Jeff Sanders in his book ‘The 5Am Miracle”.
Imagine setting your goals every three months, and committing to them with relentless intensity. Imagine accomplishing what most people accomplish in one year every three months? How much closer will you be to your goals with that consistent effort? Through understanding your mortality and the ephemeral nature of time you can make better decisions about how you spend your days, you can put down the cookie of instant gratification and take the narrow road of fulfilment. Through leveraging Parkinson’s law you can cultivate yourself to action through the quarter system.
Take some time to think back on your life, does it seem like the years have been going by fast?
Have you been investing your time to the best of you abilities, or have you been suffering from the myopia of the mind?
Are you working at your highest potential? Or are you procrastinating waiting for ‘tomorrow’ to take some action?
Can you accomplish some of your yearly goals in the next three months?
These questions are designed to get you thinking and most importantly for you start implementing some of the strategies we have been discussing. Take them seriously, because the first step to self-actualization is to be transparent with yourself and call yourself out on your own bullshit.