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  • Writer's pictureJohn J Lowe

The importance of time and timing

Updated: Jun 1, 2023

Are you always late or always on time?

It is interesting to reflect on the significant role time and timing play in our lives. Something which we take for granted and yet it permeates and influences everything we do.

The time between meals will determine our hunger. Age will determine our lifespan. And our attitude to time can determine our personality.

When I am coaching candidates on career planning their outlook at 25 years of age, 45 or 55 years is individual. Their motivation, aspirations and outlook are vastly different.

The 55 year old is risk averse whilst the 25 year old is focused on the now. If the job excites then they will take it. The older candidate may have more financial commitments such as mortgage or car HP and therefore has less choice in terms of levels of income and travel.

Timing is very much related to property and shares. Sell a property today or in two years and the fluctuation can be in the region 5% – 25% gain or loss. Shareholding can be equally volatile and timing of purchase or disposal will dictate the expediency of a decision.

There are many maxims and judgements about the efficacy of time: do not put off until tomorrow what can be done today; you are late; you are early; they are never on time; they are always early; I missed the train. Some cultures are obsessed with timekeeping whilst others do not embrace it as a central focus. Relax, chill out are dictates which normally refer to time or its obsessional adherence.

So is there a message in all of this? If we are a philosopher we might say it is in essence meaningless. But in a relational capacity it is very important. Dates facilitate markers and demonstrate happenings in terms of sequence and context: the timing of WW I in relation to WW 2 for example; the dates of the Old Testament and their relationship with the New Testament.

This prompts me to think of eternity which is a no time concept. As a child the thought of eternity always concerned me as a concept. The on and on and on…with no ending did not appeal even though it was hopefully to be experienced in heavenly bliss and having a great time. I remember thinking I would ask Jesus if I might occasionally pop down to earth to be in the environment I knew well to meet with relatives and friends.

A good maxim is then to ensure that we manage time rather than time managing us. When stressed we can become obsessed with time. But it is a very subjective concept. Some people will always get up at the last minute and spend all their time rushing all the morning chores. They will arrive at work just on time or just after time. If the train was late then it is the train’s problem and they will make sure we all know the reason: leaves on the line, signal problems, train broke down.  Others will get up with good time tolerance and arrive early for work. If the train was late then no problem as they had that time tolerance factored in.

My American aunt would arrive at the airport 7 hours ahead of her flight. I was never sure of her motivation or how she whiled away the spare 5 hours.

Time, friend or foe is central to and permeates all our lives. Manage it and it offers contentment. Ignore it and it can cause grief.

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