Time Traps and How to Avoid Them is part of the time and space blog post series. The Guiding Principles of Perfect Timing may be found here.
Most of us waste away the only resource we can never get back – our time – not because we lack persistence nor because we fail to apply the principles of perfect timing – although some of us definitely fail to do so – but because we neglect to diligently defend ourselves from time traps.
What are time traps?
In broad terms I define a time trap as a cluster of circumstances, which when combined with personal, will and definite action, seduces and diverts the individual from his or her objective with momentary pleasures, fickle interests or psychological twists. The end result of undergoing a time trap is wasted time, lost momentum and missing the opportunity altogether. Overall, I have identified 3 main time traps of which one should be mindful:
1. Acting in Your Non-Time
Acting in your non-time and overlapping in someone else’s is the most common trap. It takes a specific amount of time – hours, days or even years – to reach a specific personal or professional goal. However, the goal is achieved only if you stay the course and if you exercise consistent action towards it. When you meddle in the lives or businesses of other people you lose track of your own objectives as well as of the time that is required to fulfil them. Think about those people – we all know a few – who are always up other people’s businesses – spreading gossip, starting drama? Those people never have a prosperous business of their own because they are too busy minding the businesses of others. These are the people who copy, cheat, steal ideas or make unnecessary and unrequested commentary. On the personal side, homewreckers or individuals consumed with revenge fail to ever have flourishing personal lives because instead of focusing on their goals their attention is towards others.
All in all, it is impossible to be both in your own time and in someone else’s. When you catch yourself intervening actively or even with your thoughts in the lives of other people, remind yourself that you may be on a slippery slope, stop yourself and revert your attention towards what is important – your own goals.
2. Entering a Black Hole
The second time trap is entering a black hole. It is not an actual black hole, but it works in a similar manner; Suddenly no rules, values nor principles make sense. All your priorities become momentarily unimportant and uninteresting. The result of entering this most dangerous trap is that you will probably not recognize your life nor yourself afterwards. It is extremely difficult to repair the damage caused to yourself, your network and your reputation from entering a black hole, because you will turn out a changed man or woman – rarely for the better. There are people who spend their entire lives being absorbed from one black hole to another. Think all celebrities who have reached immense success only to trade it for a series of frivolous pleasures.
A minor event changes the course of your day, year and even life. A conversation, an argument, a movie – instantaneously you need a break, your cup is full, you file for divorce, you quit school, you do drugs to name but a few instances. Mid-life crises and the constant search for oneself are the consequences of the same phenomenon; So are regularly changing schools and degrees without finalizing any as well as incessantly divorcing and remarrying.
Moreover, keep in mind that once you gain the reputation of an inconsistent and capricious person, you will be eliminated by the achievers’ community; No achiever wishes to associate with people whom cannot exercise self-control.
One way to avoid entering black holes is precisely this: avoid the individuals who are prone to entering them because they will drag you along. Another way is to never act on impulses. When you have an uncharacteristic whim pause and ponder on the advantages, disadvantages and consequences of the action.
Circumvent situations, people and even entertainment that make you feel particularly vulnerable or unworthy. It is such factors that foster the emergence of black holes.
3. Mismanaging the Hiatus Between Two Finite Segments of Time
The third time trap is mismanaging the hiatus between two finite segments of time. As previously noted, it takes a finite amount of time to achieve a goal or finish a project. However, difficulties often emerge in between. When you end a life chapter and the next one has yet to begin, you find yourself in a peculiar situation that needs to be managed adequately. In such times, most of us search for meaning, question our life choices or simply spiral out of control. Examples of such instances include sabbaticals, in between careers periods or post brake-up phases. It is beneficial to have an anchor in form of a book, a program, a friend or a coach when this time trap looms to remind you of your life vision and principles. Secondly, it is essential to have a life vision, goal or mission to keep you grounded. Thirdly, always know what is the following personal or professional project before finalizing the one which you are presently engaged with.
Avoid rather than escape
A time-trap is a special kind of nemesis that must be foreseen in order to be avoided. Much alike quick sand, if you are in it, it is almost definitely too late to get out. Similarly, heretic gestures which people do when in a state of panic only ensure you will submerge faster. It is difficult if not often impossible to escape a time trap thus I recommend avoidance. Think of avoiding time traps as you would of a ‘not to do list’. Specifically, focus on learning the signs and circumstances in which the time trap appears and do your best to change the situation or your involvement in it.