Mount_Whitney_2003-03-25It’s been a while since I’ve done a random blog post, but since I’m leaving to hike the John Muir Trail on Sunday I figured now was the best time. For those unfamiliar with the John Muir Trail, it’s over 200 miles of high altitude hiking. The trail ends at Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States. More on that later. Let’s get back to the purpose of this post, which is about time.

Time is the most valuable resource we have. It’s the one thing we all know for damn certain there’s a finite supply of. Some day you’ll die. Every second you have one second less remaining. That fact, more than anything else, should determine how you live your life.

This provoked some very deep exploration the first time I considered it. I remember vividly the day that it happened. I was almost 100 pounds heavier. I hadn’t dated in over three years. I hated my collections job, which didn’t pay enough to make ends meet. I hated my home situation. My life was pretty dismal, and the only shelter I could find was in obliterating my consciousness with marijuana and video games as often as possible.

I did it to blot out the pain, to ignore what I’d let myself become. It worked for a long time, for years in fact. But the moment I understood time, the veil was lifted and I had no choice but to change my life. I couldn’t hide any more.

I faced what I call the Shawshenk choice. Get busy living, or get busy dying. I chose to live. I chose to make changes, to grow as a person. It was hard, especially at first. I spent months working my tail off, but progress was slow.

There were so many times I wanted to give up, and in the past I would have. But a good friend of mine really drove home the concept of limited time. He’d been in college for eight years, taking a class or two at a time while working a full time job and being a devoted husband. We had a weekend get together to celebrate the launch of Starcraft II, and I remember vividly asking him why he worked so hard.

He said the time is going to pass anyway. He was right. The words had a profound effect on me, and really made me consider the future.

If I gave up like I had every time in the past, then I’d be in the same place when I turned 35. The same place when I turned 40. The same place when I turned 45. Nothing would ever change. That knowledge was life-changing.

I chose not to give up. I kept pushing. I kept learning. Within a few more months the weight started to come off. I picked up a book on programming and taught myself to develop apps for the iPhone. I started going to Toastmasters, and before long I was winning speeches.

It didn’t take long to develop momentum. Once I succeeded in one area of my life it was easier to succeed in others. I dropped the minimum wage collections job in favor of a six figure software engineer job. I paid off my debt. I put money in savings.

I dropped the weight. All of it. I found my confidence, and I started dating. Eventually I met Lisa, and we’ve been together ever since. Finally, I turned my attention back to writing. I started cranking out novels, and will publish three in my first year (plus two non-fiction books).

All of this came about through the simple understanding of the importance of time. If you take no other lesson to heart, take this one. Spend your time wisely. Time will pass anyway. How do you want to spend it? You can’t ever get it back. You can’t ever replace it.

What do you want to change about your life? What’s your next challenge? Where do you want to be in a few years?

As for me, I’m resolved to keep growing, and to keep improving. I’ve spent the last two months getting in the best shape of my life. I’ll spend the next month hiking the high sierras, and at the end I’m going to climb the largest fucking mountain in the United States.

Get out there and conquer life, people. Your dreams are waiting.

The Value of Time

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