14 June 2008

Halfway there

I turn 36 in a week. If 72 is the average lifespan of a man, I'm halfway there. I'm half done living, and I've got another half to go. No, I'm not making a big deal of it nor am I soliciting birthday gifts (or sympathy! LOL.) I just felt a 'lil, well, reflective, seeing that I'm growing old and all.

It's odd (but probably quite usual) that at thirty-six I'm learning some things for the first time in my life.. and going,.. 'You mean that's the way it's done? I'm 36 and I only just realised that? What have I been doing the last...'.

Well, one of those things is this: TIME SHOULD NOT BE MEASURED IN HOURS OR TASKS. This comes after years of attempting to manage time: new year's resolutions, yearly planning, quarterly goals, monthly reviews, weekly plans, daily execution schedules, domain/role mapping, and all that jazz (believe me I've tried it all, and invented a few of my own.) Well, after many years of frustration, and some of unprecedented success, I've realised it's not the way to go.

For one simple reason: life is not about how well I spend my hours (squeezing in as much productivity into the minute) nor of tasks accomplished. It's about meaningfully giving God glory, living out my calling, and blessing people in an impactful way.

If I've learnt anything being an educationist, it is that you should have clear objectives that match your desired outcome.

So if I live my life by hours and tasks, that is what I will achieve - hours spent, and tasks accomplished. Of course, if these hours were well spent and the tasks aligned to good goals - they would have had positive results. But that still does not ensure a satisfying experience executing them; nor real blessing to others in a spiritual/relational sense. More often than not I finish a week in blazing glory; every one of my projects well-executed, only to find myself NOT gratified and growing in joy. Instead I slump in the weekend, in a spent state wondering.. what's next.. And then I start again.

How SHOULD I measure/plan life then? I believe it's best to approach life with the same yardstick as we want to measure the outcome: SPIRITUAL AND RELATIONAL. Goals and tasks and time are servants of these realities. Even the holy grail of management - the vision and mission statement - are not penultimate. They are secondary to relationships (be it vertical - with God, horizontal - with others, or internal - with self) and the spirit of these relationships.

So, at thirty-six, I want to not to bother about the hours. Or the tasks completed (yes, we all love ticking off the boxes on our PDAs!) Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to stop planning my days or ticking off radio-boxes on my Task list. But I AM going to bring life-management to a more basic level. I don't know how I'm going to do it yet. I don't even have the vocabulary or appropriate categories. But I know I need to operate from a more basic, more primary cente.

...to be cont'd


Yan said...

Happy Birthday in advance/

Happy Fathers' Day, yyy.

If I may, I want to share with you this letter from a son to a dad which the dad feels delighted and said it truly sums up what he has been trying to do. The card read:


Thank you for being such a wonderful dad and friend to me. You have taught me how to be a man of God not only by what you say, but through example. I cherish all of our special times together and all the fun we've had. I hope that you have a wonderful Father's Day.

I love you,

David Lim said...

happy birthday dr yap!