Time misspent is time well spent

rainbow1.jpgWe are often told that life is too short to waste time, but I guess that all depends on your definition of what is meant by ‘wasted time’. In a world which espouses the idea of encouraging and accepting the individual we spend a lot of time in fact doing the opposite and encouraging conformity within certain accepted social ideals.

Many of us are told to do the right thing, work hard at school, head off to university and earn a good degree before we enter the workforce in a sensible and secure job. This is not going to be a story with a happy ending. All that is achieved by following this path is malcontent, disillusionment and unhappiness. The rest of your life is spent trying to quell a most cherished dream or trying to avoid the frustration and guilt associated with living a most miserable life.

Why do so many of us follow this path? Because we are sold the misguided dream that to achieve a happy life we must ‘put in the hard work’, aim for security, take practical choices…in short ‘suck it up’ for a while until we get to where we want to be. To spend our time pursuing such a path is simply not a logical ideal.

Surely life is too short to spend time working at something which has us swallowing our disappointment and trying to ignore the feelings of dissatisfaction which arise as we aim for an ever elusive ultimate goal of happiness. After all, our chances of actually reaching this goal at the end of an unhappy life is only a slim possibility and not a guarantee. Shouldn’t happiness be something to pursue immediately, to capture in the moment and be at the forefront of our minds at all times?


  1. Navilyn

    Tracey, I don’t know how on earth you make the words sound so; so; I can’t even think of a word for it…

    What am trying to say is, I agree, 100%! Back in the day, well, in 1995, I took the plunge, got married the first time, and did it ‘because it was the right thing to do’. The wife to be at the time was expecting our son Lyric . I just felt it was the thing to do despite how I felt, or what others thought. Little did I know…

    Look at me now, on my second marriage, and doing it my way! Albeit, some family members seem to think otherwise…

    Anyway, thanks for reminding me that I made the right choice, to be happy, my way!

  2. Phoenix

    I agree with you in many respects. Most of the time. But the pressure to conform to other peoples’ and society’s ideals is enormous, and most people can’t resist it, and end up happier having conformed than having done their own thing and had to deal with all the dramas that that decision has caused them.

    Sometimes I struggle to justify (even to myself) dropping out of uni, even though I hated it and it wasn’t taking me anywhere that I passionately wanted to go.

    Perhaps there is a middle road. Perhaps we should follow our dreams, but have a back-up plan just in case. I’m not saying that that’s definately what I think, but it’s something I would consider. Sometimes a BA and a boring, empty, soul-less Public Sector job doesn’t look that bad to me.

    Just because you chase your dreams doesn’t neccessarily mean that you will catch them.

  3. Tracey

    Hi Navilyn – It’s so nice to hear from you…especially when you have such kind words to say.

    What you say is so true. Often we do things because we feel obliged to do them, not necessarily because they are the right thing to do FOR US. Sometimes I think it’s good to be at least a little selfish and try and find our own path of relative peace and happiness as best we can.

    There are many paths worth following…and we as individuals are the only people who are going to know whether they are right for us.

  4. Tracey

    Hi Phoenix – I agree with you regarding the enormous pressures we face within society to conform with what is viewed as being acceptable. Pressure can come from family, friends, complete strangers, work colleagues…the list goes on. Sometimes the path of least resistance will for sure bring greater happiness. I guess it is all going to depend on your circumstances.

    For me I just can’t accept that where my life is now is where it should be. I’ve taken an often safe, predictable and practical road and it has left me often feeling like something is lacking…especially when I have uncovered long buried ambitions and dreams. You say that ‘just because you chase your dreams doesn’t necessarily mean that you will catch them’…and that is true. I just need to continue to fight the good fight and know that at least I gave my dreams a shot…I think that it is better to have tried and failed then be left with empty regrets and a life unfulfilled.

    Thanks so much for your insightful comments.

  5. Dan

    Another great post and I totally agree as long as you don’t fall into the trap of asking yourself if your time is well spent and maybe deciding yes but it could have been better spent. We can’t spend all our time doing what we might consider the ultimate use of time, even living the ultimate in time use we will undoubtably have periods between which seem wasted but are unavoidable.

  6. The Artist

    Agree we need to rethink what are our aspirations in our goal orientated society, but happiness I find is a by product never an end in itself, best wishes, The Artist

  7. Tisha

    AMEN! We are so misguided by societal expectations like ‘go get a degree, get as many as possible’ and while I know that my degrees have contributed much to my personal growth the workforce doesn’t always appreciate those efforts and I know so many fine PhDs without jobs. Difficult situation.

    You’re so talented Tracey! Ok so I say that each time but I can’t say it enough!

  8. LuckySnap

    Tracey, This is a great post. Somtimes we all need a reminder of which direction we “should” go in life. I have never been a real go-getter when it comes to my career. I have never aspired to be management or at the top. I have always just wanted to do my job, spend my 40hrs/wk at work and come home to actually live my life, with my family and friends. It’s such a sad world to have to suck up to get places. In my opinion, I find that it is sometimes hard just to get through the day as it is, nevermind have to deal with corporate bulls**t and be somewhere that doesnt inspire you or make you happy. If that makes you happy, then more power to you….It’s just not for me. I ‘d rather live a more simple life and nurture my creativity elsewhere. That is why I am so thankful to be at home with our daughter.

    Life is what you make it!
    Thanks for the thought provoking post. I loved it!

  9. Tisha

    It’s incredible how much Tracey mentally stimulates us folks isn’t it?!?

  10. Tracey

    Hi Dan – I agree completely with what you’re saying. I guess when I wrote the post it was more about ensuring that you don’t waste your time pursuing something that you don’t want or pursuing nothing. But I know what you mean, you just can’t go through life second guessing yourself. Often what is traditionally considered to be a waste of time by society…like playing with the dog, watching a movie or just sitting and watching the ocean…these are things that I for one would like to do more of.

    Hi The Artist – A very true point you raise!! The achievement of happiness is not really an end goal, it is in the pursuit of happiness that we find a meaningful life.

  11. Tracey

    Hi Tisha – Always a pleasure to see you here!! I know for me that I wouldn’t be where I am today without doing the whole degree thing straight after school…but the longer I spend on this life path, the longer I seem to move away from what I felt I should do…and move more towards things that I want to do. You are as ever, far too kind with your wonderful compliments…but I’ll accept them just the same!! 8)

    Hi LuckySnap – With my career I’ve kind of just let things happen rather than be the person asking, ‘is this really what I want to do?’. And while this has worked some of the time, I find myself coming back to this question more and more.

    I agree with you about the corporate world…all the rubbish that we have to put up with when what I’d rather do is just get the job done, and like you say get on with my ‘real life’. I’ve found that my creative itch in recent years has been difficult to quieten, so it has made the dreaded day job even harder to face…but for others life in the corporate professional world would suit them just fine…each to their own!!

    Thanks for your wonderfully considered comments!!

  12. amit

    hey th was really a gr8 post…….ur own i9deas were they…….if so u sem to hv a very broad intellect and truly u seem to have profound knowledge.

    P.S.—-I still do not see myself in your blogosphere.Please do keep me in there 🙂

  13. Tracey

    Hi Amit – Yes, most definitely all the posts I write come from my own wee little brain. Thanks 8)

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