Can You Do This Math?

This simple equation could change the way you spend your time.

Bob McKinnon
Thrive Global


Source: iStock

Last week, Seth Godin wrote, “The difference between who you are now and who you were five years ago is largely due to how you’ve spent your time along the way.”

Serendipitously that same day, I watched, The Man Who Knew Infinity — a true story based on mathematicians trying to understand the world by discovering life’s underlying equations.

With Seth’s words in mind, this amateur mathematician tried to develop a simple equation to capture how we become who we are. Here was a first stab:

Being = Activity x Time

This could be quantified by looking at how many equivalent days were spent doing that activity over a five year period. The formula for which would be:

(Weekly Activity Hours x 260 weeks)/24

For example, if you practice guitar one hour each week, you will, over the course of those five years, spend the equivalent of 10 entire days playing the guitar. This could over time make you a better guitar player.

Now imagine, if instead, you spent three hours a week practicing. That would translate to an equivalent of an entire month doing nothing but playing the guitar! Think of how much better you would be.

Conversely, there is the time we spend becoming things we didn’t intend. For example, while I fancy myself a pretty avid reader, lately I’ve spent more time watching things on television than with my nose stuck in a book.

So let’s suppose, I watched ten hours of TV this week, an average of 1.5 a day.

(10 hours TV x 260)/24 = 108 Equivalent Days.

If I keep up the current pace, I will spend the equivalent of three and a half months of the next 5 years doing nothing but watching television.

It is said that we are what we do. Writers write. Teachers teach. Ballers ball. In this case, I’m not really a reader, I’m a TV watcher. Ouch.

I encourage you to do your own math using the formula above. Pick one thing you’re trying to be and see how your time stacks up. Now compare that to something you’re doing that really isn’t in line with who you want to be.

What does that look like five years from now? How does that make you feel?

Don’t be overwhelmed. It starts with choosing that first hour. Then as they say “rinse and repeat.”

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Bob McKinnon
Thrive Global

Writer. Husband. Dad of Three Girls. Creator of Moving Up & Actions Speak Loudest. Adjunct Professor, Parsons School of Design. Redesigning the American Dream.