I’m in supervision having a familiar conversation.
“I’ve taken on too much work.”
My supervisor smiles but says nothing.
I spend the next minute or so explaining what I’ve done, how I had planned to say no to a new project but, in the final shake-up, found it too interesting to reject.
I hear myself say, “I don’t know why I keep doing this,” and, “I don’t like to be too busy,” while she remains silent.
I realise that I have, so far, spent 25% of supervision talking about how badly I seem to be planning my time.
“You say that you don’t like to be busy but I’m not sure that’s really true Graham.”
There’s a familiar perception that time appears to move faster the older we get.
One theory to explain this phenomenon is that time moves more slowly when we are having new experiences and learning fresh skills, and more quickly when life has become more routine and predictable, much like it does for many of us in later life.
So I find myself in a quandary because I enjoy routine, but I am not anxious to run out of time.
In a strange paradox, I am often more than happy to exist in a far from productive way, when surrendering to time appears to make the futile imperative to control it fall away.
Wandering in the fields with the dog, aimlessly talking to the birds, none of whom ever reply in a language I can understand, or napping briefly in the afternoon to rejuvenate my flagging energy.
“You don’t really help yourself when it comes to time pressure do you?” my daughter said to me this week when I was writing an answer to a Spill client and bemoaning my lack of time.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you tell yourself how long you have to answer a question and then completely disregard it.”
She’s right. I get into a flow and the writing becomes more important than the time passing.
Someone has asked,
“How can I manage my expectations when things aren’t happening fast enough in my life?”
I want to write, “What’s the rush?” so that I can get through it and onto the next thing.
Instead, I tell them that career impatience is an actual thing, where people feel an enormous pressure to keep up with everyone else and hit wildly ambitious goals in ludicrously short time scales in order to feel that they are doing life properly.
“I’m glad I don’t suffer from that,” I tell my supervisor.
“Why do you think you’re doing it then?” she asks.
“I think I’m probably trying to have new experiences and learn new skills so that the time I’ve got left doesn’t seem to go by so quickly.”
It feels as if we might be getting somewhere but we are out of time.