How Watching Bill Murray in Groundhog Day Made Me Rethink Priorities
I wrote this post two weeks ago for Groundhog Day, one of my favorite “holidays” of sorts. I am unclear whether or not my delight with the February 2 stems from some rodent-mysticism-fascination from my childhood or simply developed as an eccentricity following the amazing Bill Murray movie (which my wife dislikes, though I forgive her).
If you are interested in the magical woodchuck lore, then I recommend you immediately go visit Punxsutawney Phil’s site to see what he predicted from his home at Gobbler’s Knob. I tend to read Phil’s proclamation to my kids during breakfast, though this year they got it later in the day.
This post focuses more on the concepts in Groundhog Day, the 1993 Bill Murray classic, though. If you have never seen it, go watch it. I’ll still be here a couple of hours from now when you are done. No, seriously, go watch it. OK, if you are still reading, then I assume you have seen it by now, so beware the spoilers.
So basically, Murray plays a weather man coincidentally named Phil, who is dispatched to cover the Groundhog Day festival in Punxsutawney. He hates the assignment, which grows worse when his crew gets stuck there due to weather. It is quite possibly the worst day of Phil’s life until he wakes up and has to relive it again, and again, and again.
What Would You Do With Infinite Resources?
Phil doesn’t have infinite resources across the board, but he does have two things that we don’t. First, he has infinite time. He uses that time to study French poetry, learn to play the piano, and overall try to convince Rita to fall in love with him. He also has the daily “reset button,” which enables him to try the same things over and over again, and use the same money and same resources over and over again.
What would you do with infinite time? What would you focus on? What would you study? What would you spend your money on each day? It’s an interesting question, knowing that many of the obligations fall away as well if you never make it to tomorrow. Murray indulges in many “in the moment” actions as well (think kidnapping the groundhog) without fear of the future.
What decisions would you want to push the reset button on? If you could take something back from today and completely redo it again, what would it be?
So How Are You Spending the Finite?
Dreaming about how we would spend infinity serves one great purpose: to help prioritize what we should be doing with the finite time we do have. Perhaps you dream of learning concert piano, but you have never touched one. Perhaps you dream of becoming a master of French poetry. but you don’t even have a French-to-English dictionary. Perhaps you dream of finding love, but you refuse to even talk to people.
Whatever your dreams, your goals, they start with action. If you fantasize about doing something every day, you have to start looking for ways to make progress on that goal. The one failure of the movie Groundhog Day is that it isn’t longer, which would be extremely boring, but essential to show the thousands of days where Phil took his “first lesson” in piano before becoming an amazing performer. The movie shows the end product of the hard work, skipping most of the days in between. It’s great for feeding the fantasy, but when we are dealt a finite amount of time instead of infinite, the work to achieve mastery becomes incredibly important.
So What Now?
It’s up to you.
If you know how you would spend an eternity but can’t carve out five minutes towards that dream in your finite world, what are you doing? Every dream is impossible if you never start (Click here if you want to tweet that).
The finite nature of time should make every second you are awake that much more important. How are you spending yours? Chasing dreams or putting them off? Time to make those seconds count
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