The illusion of abundant time

When it comes to the achievement of material goals we fool ourselves into thinking we have an abundance of time. If it is our ambition to do X, to accumulate Y, or to win Z, we need to believe we have time because we need to act with patience. If we cannot be patient we have no choice but to be reckless, to make choices that enhance our credit in the short-term but result in crippling long-term debt. When it comes to building an institution or changing our lives and the lives of others, we need to believe that we have years to accomplish all we set out to do, else we cannot make good decisions.

This is an illusion we must settle for, but only in that particular domain. In other domains we cannot subscribe to this illusion of abundant time, and the most important of these is the one concerning our character. 

Take me as an example. I have given myself decades to achieve mastery of my chosen craft. I may not have decades, but that’s irrelevant; my road is a long one and I must walk it steadily and surely while I’m still able. But I cannot afford the same luxury when it comes to my character. I cannot say I have decades to learn how to be kind, compassionate, thoughtful, generous, persistent and strong. To be those things is more a choice than a skill, and I don’t need thirty years to figure out whether I want to be a douchebag or not. Tomorrow, I could die, and if I postpone the making of that decision I die as something I never truly wanted to be. So I must rid my mind of the comfort that comes from telling myself, “You have years, decades, relax.” I do not. If I wish to leave this planet as the person I’d like to of been, I need to decide tomorrow, today, right now, to become that person once and for all.