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John Maxwell

Health Care

Consistency: A Wise Investment of Time

The pressure to make the most of available time can lead to bad results

Published: Tuesday, August 30, 2016 - 14:37

Have you ever considered the time investment required of some of the world’s greatest achievements?

• It took 26 months to build the Eiffel Tower.
• It took Da Vinci four years to paint the Mona Lisa.
• It took Michelangelo four years to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
• It took Leo Tolstoy more than six years to write War and Peace.
• It took about 30 years to build the Great Pyramid.
• It took more than 40 years before Beethoven’s Fur Elise was performed.

And I get impatient if microwave popcorn takes too long!

Joking aside, I love this list because it reminds me of just what can be accomplished when a person invests time wisely. Time is the one commodity each person gets in equal measure. As songwriter Chris Rice once wrote, “Every day is a bank account, and time is our currency. No one’s rich, nobody’s poor—we get 24 hours each.”

Yet so many of us don’t invest time wisely. We spend many of the hours we’re given each day on things that bring us no return. According to the website Digital Trends, Americans now spend an average of 4.7 hours a day looking at social media on their phones. Take a moment and re-read that, because it’s an amazing statistic.

4.7 hours. Every day. Looking at a phone. To see what other people are doing with their time. (Hint: They’re looking at their phones.)

It’s insane.

Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not against social media or smartphones or anything like that. But I am in favor of you investing your time wisely. You see, we’ve become a culture that doesn’t appreciate time anymore. We expect things to be done quickly. We’re used to instant results and fast feedback.

Our default setting is impatience. And although some things are fine when done fast, other things suffer when we skimp on time. Things like:

Relationships. People—your spouse, your children, your co-workers, your friends—require time. If you want to have healthy relationships with the people around you, you have to invest time with those people.

Health. Trust me—once you get past a certain age, your health requires a lot of your time. Even if all you want is to live a reasonably healthy life, you still have to set aside time to exercise and eat well.

Personal growth. As I’ve often said, your growth as a person isn’t automatic. In order to grow as a person, you must put in the hours of reading, reflecting, and spending time with people who can help you be better.

Finances. There are lots of ways that your finances need your time and attention, but one of the biggest needs is planning for your future. Your retirement isn’t going to just show up fully funded when you’re 65. If you want to retire comfortably, you have to start setting money aside when you’re younger.

Now, these aren’t new ideas to you. You’re smart enough to know that each one of these areas needs an investment of time on your part. But if I were to ask you right now to grade your time investment on each of them, I imagine at least one would receive a low grade. And if you’re like most people, you’re likely to have two or three areas that need shoring up.

Here’s the good news: You can easily make improvements in the way you invest your time. All it takes in one simple habit.

Consistency

You see, most people don’t understand the power of consistency. Because they use so much of their time poorly, they feel a great pressure to maximize what little time they have. That pressure leads them to overdo it.

Maybe they put all of their money into a can’t-miss stock, only to watch the stock tank three days later. Maybe they work out too hard at the gym, injure themselves, and then can’t work out for a while. Maybe they decide to create a perfect date night with their spouse, only they plan everything without consulting said spouse—and then get irritated when things seem a bit off.

Whatever the area, the pressure to make the most of the time available often leads to bad results, which leads to people further neglecting to spend the time necessary to make things better.

All of this can be avoided with the habit of consistency. Consistency in this case means you give a little bit of time to each area every day, and stick with it. Maybe to start with, you spend 5 minutes every morning listening to your spouse. You dedicate 15 minutes every evening to playing with your kids. You put $50 into a savings account every week. You exercise for 15 minutes a day.

It won’t feel like much at first, but it’s the discipline to stick with it that yields not only the tangible results of the investment, but the internal rewards as well. You learn to increase the time you give each area. You become more aware of how you’re wasting time. You get sharper, smarter, and more focused as a result.

When you live with consistency, you learn that the rewards you seek in life don’t come after you take one step; they come when you’ve taken a journey to a place you’ve never been. You may never paint the Sistine Chapel or build a pyramid, but with the habit of consistency, you’ll be able to live like my mentor Coach John Wooden—making each day your masterpiece.

First published Aug. 2, 2016, on the John C. Maxwell blog, ©2016. The John Maxwell Co. articles accessed here may not be reprinted or reproduced without written permission from The John Maxwell Co., except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles.

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About The Author

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John Maxwell

John C. Maxwell is a leadership expert, speaker, and author who works to help people reach their personal and leadership potential. Through leadership resources from books to public workshops to custom programs for companies worldwide, his goal is to equip people to live out leadership the way it was meant to be lived. Maxwell has written 71 books, three of which sold more than 1 million copies each. See partial book list here.