Three Ways You’re Wasting Your Valuable Time

There’s this relatively young-looking man that sits in the same spot on the sidewalk every day as I bike past him on the way to work.

He doesn’t really look all that tattered up. He’s wearing the same black T-shirt and jeans every day, and he’s always there sitting on a flattened cardboard box. Putting two and two together, I figure he’s more than likely homeless, but he may not be.

Every day I see him sitting there as I bike past in the morning, and then I see him in the same spot again as I bike on the way home. On a couple occasions, he’s walking around nearby. Even if I bike in the middle of the work day to go home, he’s out there.

I’m wondering if he recognizes me at this point since we cross paths so much. I’ve tried to wave if I can catch him looking my way, but he’s usually staring straight ahead, more than likely deep in his own thoughts.

I notice one thing in particular about this man: he’s never doing anything. He’s just looking. No phone, no backpack; nothing in his hands. I wonder what he does during my 8–9 hours at work, to say the least

At the end of the day, he’s killing time.

Is he content? He might be, and I can’t judge him for it. All I have is my take on it.

Is he doing anything to change his situation? Again, who knows. I would like to hope so.

Why am I even giving a story about a homeless guy?

Because I can relate to him on some level. Why?

I had a general theme of inaction in my 20’s.

Here are three ways I felt I underutilized my first decade out of college.

I chose to stay in a career I hated

After college, I thought I had it all — a finance degree from a top 10 business school undergraduate program, a full-time finance job working downtown which paid well, and the smarts to make shit happen fast.

In reality, I did have it all. But that “all” wasn’t the right all for me.

Most would look at the description and tell me I’m lucky. And I was. But it wasn’t meant for me.

Plenty of others find incredible success and happiness in that path. It didn’t include this guy.

But here’s where I made a mistake — I stayed in the industry through three jobs and one miserable existence.

Blah.

When you don’t like something, move on. But only after a fair shot.

What is a fair shot? It means don’t bail at the first sign of struggle or difficulty. But you pretty much know when it’s time to thank it for its time, show yourself the door, and keep walking without turning back.

I failed to do this. I thought “maybe it’s not the career (finance), it’s the particular job I’m in.”

So I went and got a fresh new job in finance.

Then after that failed, I thought “maybe it’s not the job, but it’s the industry (financial services) I’m in.”

So I went and got a new job in the renewable energy side of finance. Failed.

So I went and got a job in the fashion side of finance. Failed.

Really Adam?

Move on. It felt like my career rivaled how my relationships were going. Failures.

It wasn’t until I was 29 that I snapped out of it and decided to change careers.

I didn’t make any effort to pursue my passions, hobbies, or interests

I use all three terms because they can be fairly interchangeable.

Call it what you want. But make the effort to find them and dig in.

When you don’t make any effort? I call it one of a few things:

Inaction. Laziness. Floating through life.

I wasted a good part (a majority) of my 20’s not taking any action. This lack of action led me through failed jobs, failed relationships, and not much closer to my true purpose; let alone my hobbies, passions, and interests.

As I look back, it stings.

But then I realize something — it’s how my life was supposed to play out. I was incapable, I’d imagine, of doing any better at the time with the resources I had.

Similar, in a way, to the man I see all the time. Which is why I will never judge him harshly for it.

Remember this next time you’re dealing with people:

Everyone is doing the best they can with the knowledge and resources they have at the moment.

This is vitally important, because you’ll soon realize this is the single best way to forgive someone for their past or current indiscretions.

We’re all just doing the best we can in the moment.

I didn’t realize time is your most valuable commodity

I used to be one of those suckers (within reason) who would wait outside in a line to get something free or heavily discounted. Or I’d drive across town to save a few bucks.

Now, I weigh most of my activities against my time.

If it’s not helping me grow, become a better person, or make me money, I don’t make time for it.

I wasted enough time in my 20’s. Trust me, that time whizzed by.

I don’t want to waste my 30’s like I felt I wasted my 20’s.

I am pursuing hobbies and passions, inching my way closer to my purpose.

Remember, getting to your “purpose”, or what you should be doing with your life, isn’t a lightning strike epiphany. I made the mistake thinking it was.

It comes to you through action. Doing. Experimenting. Trying. Getting outside your comfort zone.

I liken it to that handheld plastic maze with the little steel ball you have to get to the end. You’re twisting and turning the bad boy. You’re getting far when boom, you hit a dead end. You have to slightly backtrack on occasion before moving forward again.

Life isn’t much different.


Thanks for reading! This answer is edited and originally appeared on my Quora.

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