The days are long, but the years are short. Such an interesting paradox. When my kids were babies, I apparently wore that semi-permanent “I’m a frazzled mommy” expression. Women of grown children have a kind of special radar for detecting this expression. On countless occasions I was stopped by a kind woman who would say some version of, “This stage won’t last forever. Cherish every moment. They grow up so fast. Time flies by so quickly.”
And time does certainly fly by. Seems like I blinked my eyes and celebrated my 12th wedding anniversary. My son cooks his own eggs for breakfast. My daughter fits into my clothes & shoes. Where have the years gone? And how come any given day can seem sooooo loooong?
In my coaching work, my clients and I explore this “time paradox” using a simple perspective taking exercise called The Balcony. The setup for the exercise goes like this:
Imagine yourself standing up on an outdoor balcony. Below, a long meandering path stretches endlessly in either direction. Look down the path to the left. This is the path you’ve already traveled; the path that has led you here today. To the right is the path unfolding before you. And where you stand at this moment is the present.
Just as yesterday’s choices, thoughts, and actions have brought you here today, know that today’s choices, thoughts, and actions will determine your path forward. (You can download the full activity here)
On those long days, when we feel caught up in a circumstance, it is tempting to allow fear and anxiety to guide our thoughts and behaviors. However, the time paradox would remind us that life is too fleeting to waste our precious days in fear, anxiety, or feeling powerless over our circumstances.
Whatever today’s circumstances may be in your life, it is precisely in today where your power lies to affect the course of your journey tomorrow. Today’s choices have the power to lead you to higher ground tomorrow. Today you can choose Hope over despair. Peace-of-mind over anxiety. Compassion over complacency. Love over indifference. Even when we cannot directly affect our circumstances, we can always choose how we allow our circumstances to affect our state-of-mind and our state-of-heart.
My wish for each of us is that we begin 2013 with intention and with mindfulness.
Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present. Here’s a printable to remind you.
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