I have a fantasy to tell you.
I dream of going back 5 years to the past and re-living life with everything I know today. Since I’m 31 today, going back 5 years would put me in a 26 year old body.
Looking backward, it’s easy to see what I’d change if I could go back. I’m not 100% about which path I’d switch my life to but I’d know what I could eliminate from my life to vastly increase available time and happiness.
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">H.G Wells’ protagonist did go back in time in The Time Machine.</figcaption></figure>
Bringing the future to the present
I was driving home the other day and a thought struck me while I was steadily moving through traffic.
What if I add 5 years to my life right now. Instead of the 31 year old Nikita, I’m the future 36 year old Nikita.
It sounds wacky, I know. I see it as a re-framing technique to help me see my life in a larger perspective. But why is that important?
How often does a week pass by and you look back and don’t remember what you did? I have those too and without a larger perspective, a week can turn into a month and then into a year. You look back with disappointment and ask what the hell am I doing here?
These are the peak years of my life. They don’t go on forever and by the time the peak subsides into older years, habits will keep me running in the same place. At old age, focus on health overtakes ambitious goals of youth. Let’s bend our mind here and look at life from a fresh view.
What if I extrapolate my current age to a 36 year old Nikita. This older Nikita has the same habits and the same life as I do now. Habits die hard unless you consciously break them.
So now I’m the 36 year old Nikita that has a chance to go back in time and re-live the past, which is NOW.
So what would I change?
Let me look back at how I lived the past 5 years. Let me start by eliminating things that wasted precious time.
Clutter vs $200
We don’t notice as stuff piles up and quickly feel it’s pain as it makes the living space smaller.
I spent hours organizing stuff. Putting those things that might someday be useful. I’m bullshitting myself because those items are still untouched years later. An insight came to me while I was organizing…stuff.
How can I get rid of linens, gifts, unused tech, some books, old papers, and clothes that I barely ever wear without feeling guilty?
At some point in the future, I might need a thing or two that I already threw out. It’s a small chance but it could happen. If it did happen, and even if it was for multiple things, I could buy those things back and they would cost me less than $200. Is risking $200 worth having peace of mind and a spacious place to live?
How much is that $200 per month over 5 years? That’s $3.33 per month. That’s cheap. How much productivity could I have gained in that time…
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">I could have permanently had the spacious left space for the past 5 years rather than the stuffy room on the right. At worst, I’d have to spend $200 to get the things I needed back.</figcaption></figure>
Cooking Meals with multiple servings
I am what I eat. Looking back at the past 5 years, I have no regrets on cooking good meals. I was energized, productive, and avoided sickness because I ate mainly home cooked meals. Cooking does take time, doesn’t it?
The biggest offenders were cooking meals that had two or less servings. They might take hours to make but would only last for one day. I’d have to cook again tomorrow.
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">I spend less time cooking hearty meals rather than small one meal dishes.</figcaption></figure>
However, I don’t ever regret cooking any type of meal with my lady. There’s a sense of intimacy and close communication when cooking together. It feels like you’re multitasking making food and spending time together.
Time spent watching shows during peak hours
I’ve watched Mad Men, Entourage, Deadwood, The Sopranos, and The Office. I don’t regret watching them for the same reason I don’t regret going to see a good movie in a theater. It’s okay to have fun. However, what I do regret is watching them during peak hours.
Peak hours are the hours where I’m most productive during the day. For me, those are morning and afternoon hours. If I could go back, I’d try to watch these shows during non-peak hours.
Call it web surfing or call it internet research if you don’t want to feel too bad about the hours you spend reading various material online.
Of the time I spent “researching” online, I’d say 20% had an impact on my life.
The problem with internet “research” is that it puts you into a consumer state of mind. You consume information and don’t create anything. What’s the point of consuming if you’re not using information for creating something? It’s clutter in your head.
I’d also research the hell out of a product or service before buying in. I could spend hours looking where the best value is. Are those several hours worth the extra $15 saved? Now that I think about it, probably not.
Doing extra work that won’t matter
If your job aligns with what you feel in your heart, that‘s awesome! Keep stoking that fire!
Many of us are still early in our life’s journey experimenting with work. We have jobs that bring home the dough and sustain us but not necessarily fulfill us.
I’m working on the fulfillment part of my life outside of my job and that’s okay. There is a danger though.
There’s a danger in doing your job above and beyond what is required so much so that it steals away the time from the part of your life the fulfills you.
Above and beyond is stretching yourself too thin. You might work on the weekend and suddenly the weekend is gone. And you didn’t create anything that fulfills you. Weeks pass by and you still didn’t attempt to do what your heart whispers you to do.
Looking back at the last 5 years, most of that extra work that I could have avoided doing…I should have avoided doing. It’s the YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GET CREDIT FOR IT theory.
What would have mattered is taking those precious peak hours and using them to CREATE. Create what feels right in my heart.
Do well at your job, but don’t forget that at the end of the day, it’s up to you to create what you love.
Spending time with loved ones
I have no regrets spending time with family and friends in the past 5 years. These are experiences where we all had a blast.
Going forward, if I can minimize time-wasters, I can increase the time I spend with people that matter to me.
A direct and very close family member just died three weeks ago. It was the first death I experienced. I’ve seen people grieve differently.
One thing I don’t regret is spending time with this person. I got to spend time with her often and I feel that lessened my grieving. There were no regrets such as “I could have done more…” or “I should have come by more…”.
Going forward, I’ll continue to value and realize that time spent with people I love is worthwhile. Disease can take anyone away in a flash.
I’ve already laid out time wasters that can be eliminated. I also figured out what DOES matter is using peak time for creation and for relationships.
I wake up in the morning and after I wash my face, I have a sly smile knowing I’m reliving youth.
I go to the gym with a smile on my face because I know I’m training a body that’s 5 years younger!
I’d rather risk $200 than keep clutter. Peak time is important as I can use it for creation.
I found that I can go back and re-live the past through re-framing. Live in the past that’s here and now.