I have been hearing a lot about time for the past several days—time that continues to pass us by regardless if we are ready or not. From the pastor’s sermon last Sunday to my drive-home conversations with my wife, these moments have contributed to my thoughts on time—thoughts that include what we sacrifice in our pursuit to “increase” our time.
Time flies quickly, and time is limited. These observations about time are nothing new. Many of us, if not everyone, would also have these realizations whenever looking at growing kids, learning of a death in our family or circle of friends, or attending our high school reunions. We are constantly being reminded of how quickly time flies.
Our time on this earth is fleeting. St. James describes our life as a “mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” As to how much time we have left, none of us knows. Yet, if we examine how we live our lives, we seem to live our days as if our time is limitless, with no urgency to attain our goals and achieve our purposes in this world. We often deliberately allow ourselves to act like a rudderless boat, floating wherever the wind blows, not minding the when and the where, much more the how and the why.
But why is this the case? For something we consider precious (remember the times when we were reminded that ‘time is gold’ and ‘don’t waste time’), we do not seem to treat time as such. Is it because there is a feeling that time resets every midnight, resulting in a new set of 24 hours? Is it because, for the longest time, we still have time when we wake up each morning? Is it because it seems that we do not have to put any effort to obtain time? Time seems limitless and easy to get, is it not? Money, which we obtain with hard work and effort, is nothing like time.
Time has its way of getting back at us. Our tragic trait to take time for granted might have created one of the main contributors of our stress: deadlines. Because the world does not trust us to prioritize meaningful and goal-aligned activities, it has to set certain parameters, such as deadlines, to keep us moving at a certain direction.
Unlike money or other resources we have, there is no clear owner of time. This ownership vacuum leads us to believe that we own our time. Our seeming ownership of time, combined with our self-centered tendencies, causes us to use it as we please. My time is my time. This creates its own set of issues as well. Deep inside, we often think: “I will do whatever I want with whatever time I have”; and there are times when “whatever I want” is not really well thought out, meaningful, or value-adding to anyone.
As we grow in our careers, however, the demand for our time and the accompanying responsibilities increase. Thus, further exacerbating our issue with time. From taking time for granted to having to contend with deadlines, which eventually result in pressure, we are then looking for ways to be more efficient and to increase our capacity.
For those who have the resources to do so, we try to resolve this issue in efficiency and capacity through the aid of technology. Through our mobile phones, we order food to be delivered to our workstations, browse social media posts to be updated on what has been happening with our friends and family, skip church on Sundays because we can listen to the sermon online. Conveniences surely provide us with the additional time we need, but at what cost?
By buying conveniences, we are essentially foregoing the time we would have spent interacting face to face with other people. We are becoming more and more isolated from each other, only needing our gadgets as we live in this world—a world wherein we are not meant to be alone.
Time is limited. It is fleeting. May we use it wisely and with a purpose. Time flies fast. As we keep up with it, let not our relationships with one another be sacrificed in the process.
Anton Ng is a Partner, Audit & Assurance of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading Audit, Tax, Advisory, and Outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 Partners and over 850 staff members. We’d like to hear from you!
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As published in The Manila Times, dated 24 July 2019