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The Limitations I Avoid

[Listen to me read this reflection here]

In my early twenties, I felt that time was unlimited for me. Like most teenagers entering adulthood, I felt like I could do anything, and everything. The energy and enthusiasm that I felt fuelled me to make choices with the courage and conviction often required to turn any idea into a reality. And it worked.

What I lacked in life experience I made up for with effort, throwing time, as it were an unlimited resource at my disposal, towards whatever I was determined to achieve. I felt there was an abundance of time available to me.

In my early thirties, I began to internalize that time is limited. The passing away of loved ones, seeing people I knew begin to experience health issues, and starting to observe my own energy and enthusiasm in the face of new challenges change, deep down I began to feel that time is not abundant, but scarce.

This recognition that time is limited triggered a strong desire for me to do even more in life. As a response to time being limited, a fire was lit within me to cram ‘it all’ into my short life. The belief that time is scarce fuelled me.

My mind naturally started to engineer my life to be able to do more. My attention began to focus on the many inefficiencies in my life. The desire to be efficient, to be productive, to always be doing something, and in the most optimal manner, became what I valued. And it worked.

As long as I was doing something useful and valuable, for either me or for others, I could feel satisfied that I was making the most of my limited time.

Except I did not feel satisfied.

Even after mastering the science of doing more in less, and achieving a lot along the way, I did not feel the type of satisfaction I expected.

The satisfaction I felt is that I know how to do things. The satisfaction that I longed to feel is that I know how to do the right things for me.

What I am now learning is that not only is my time limited, but that there are also limitations to my time.

There are limitations to what I can do with my time. There are limitations to how many books I can read. Limitations to how many places I can visit. Limitations to how many people I can connect with. Limitations to how many hobbies I can explore. The limitations are endless.

There is a great discomfort for me to acknowledge these limitations. My conditioning has been to believe there are no limitations to my time, and that I can do anything, and everything. It is more comfortable to try to do ‘it all’, and even though I know deep down I likely will not, at least I know that I tried, and that gives me comfort.

However, to truly believe that there are limitations to my time requires me to make trade-offs. If I am doing this, I am not doing that. If I am here, I am not there. If I am with this person, I am not with that person. It is in making these trade-offs that I feel the discomfort.

To decide how to use my time is to know what I really want. I find this to be the most difficult question to answer. It is easier to throw time and effort at it, and avoid answering the question.

To decide how to use my time is to know myself. And I suspect this is the ultimate satisfaction that I desire.

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