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Stop Managing Your Time. Manage Your Life.

Had an interesting conversation with a busy student of mine about his poly life, holding different jobs, juggling school work, and finding time for family and friends. Running through my mind during the chat were thoughts of how he could find the time to study, when he was in a constant rush from work to work. When I finally popped the question if he would be willing to reduce his part-time jobs so that he could focus on his studies, he merely gave a sheepish grin and replied, “Cannot la, i enjoy good food and i need to pay for my cable tv leh!”. It was then i realized that in youths’ mind, short-term needs outweigh any long-term gains.

Reflecting and thinking about the conversation, I finally understood why time management was a topic my students wanted to ask their mentors if given the chance. With lives packed with work, games, studies, and family, it is no wonder students are unable to find time. What perturbed me more is their feeling of lost when asked about their plans for their future.

“Do you have long-term goals in your life?”

“What are your current needs?”

“Have you planned for the future, and to manage your short-term needs versus your long-term goals?”

As i did not complete the conversation with him that day since it was interrupted by a phone call for him to attend another remedial, i figured it might be better to pen it down so that he may read it if time permits.


Image courtesy of Vegadsl / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Long Term Goals

Long term goals are really about goals 3-5 years and beyond. To achieve them, it takes effort every single day to build towards the goals. A trick in motivation is to visualize yourself achieving these goals. I guarantee it’ll help if you could spend some time visualizing, as it will give you the confidence, and your brain will be wired for success!

Great video below by BBC about how our brains are wired to help us visualize and in turn drives our success!


If you do not have that long-term goal, start searching today. If you have, start today with actions that will get you there! If i were to lead by example, i dare say my long-term goals are to teach even when i am 70. And to achieve them, here I am as a teacher learning to teach. Retirement is way too boring.

Be specific with your goals!

“I want to study in _____ (University) in 3 years time!”

“I want to work in _____ (Company) in 5 years times!”

Start your actions today!

“I need a GPA of 3.8 to enter that University! I’ll start today by revising and limiting myself to maximum 1 hour of games.”

“I want to enter that company! I’ll start today by googling how to write a good resume and how to ace an interview

Chance favors the prepared mind – Louis Pasteur

“千里之行﹐始於足下” or “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Laozi

Long Term Goal

How are your daily activities contributing to your long-term goals?

Short Term (Current) Needs

Short term (current) needs are pretty intuitive.

“I need to play games to relax and unwind!”

“I need to buy new clothes so that I am up to date with the latest fashion!”

“I need money to enjoy good food and to pay my bills!”

It is true that everyone has their own needs and even myself where there are bills to pay, a good meal to buy, and a new Apple product to lay my hands on. Life would be boring if we do not enjoy tiny moments of happiness now and then. These needs are real and it will take a lot of determination to deny ourselves the short-term fun and happiness. However, keep the focus on the long-term, balanced with enjoying the happiness in the short-term.

Take Care of the Goose that Lays Golden Eggs

This story is one of Aesop’s fables where a farmer and his wife had a goose that laid golden eggs. Thinking that the goose had a great lump of gold inside it, they decided to kill it and lay their hands on the gold. However, they soon discovered that this goose was no different from other geese. Instead of becoming rich immediately, the couple deprived themselves of the golden eggs forever.

If you are that farmer, would you spend time nurturing the goose (focusing on your long-term goals), or would you kill the goose (investing time only on your short-term needs)?

If there is one life skill that i like my students to master, that would be the skill to balance between their long-term goals and their short-term needs. You will never be able to manage your time, until you start managing your life.

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2 thoughts on “Stop Managing Your Time. Manage Your Life.

  1. I really like all of this, but I love the quote on the video…the body will follow the mind.

    Posted by animatingyourlife | June 26, 2013, 6:23 pm

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