"When we fail to achieve our goals, procrastination is often the culprit. But how exactly is procrastination to be understood? It has been described as imprudent, irrational, inconsistent, and even immoral, but there has been no sustained philosophical debate concerning the topic." … words from a description of The Thief of Time; Philosophical Essays on Procrastination, edited by Chrisoula Andreou and Mark D. White.
From a description of the book The Thief of Time by John Boyne … "It is 1758 and Matthieu Zela is fleeing Paris for Dover, having witnessed the murder of his mother by his stepfather. Beginning in murder and ending in redemption, Matthieu’s life is characterised by one extraordinary fact: before the 18th century ends he discovers that his body has stopped ageing. … At the end of the 20th century he is able to look back on a life lived to the full.”
And in a novel written by Terry Pratchett... "Everybody wants more time, which is why on Discworld only the experts can manage it -- the venerable Monks of History who store it and pump it from where it's wasted, like underwater (how much time does a codfish really need?), to places like cities, where busy denizens lament, "Oh where does the time go?" … one young horologist is about to do the unthinkable. He's going to stop. Well, stop time that is, by building the world's first truly accurate clock. … For if the Perfect Clock starts ticking, Time -- as we know it -- will end. And then the trouble will really begin..."
Yikes! Procrastination AND stopping time AND eternal life... on this little planet we like to call Earth, the connections are tenuous at best. Since my responsibilities as Career Muse do not solely restrict me to the realm of the possible, shall we muse a bit on various aspects of time and perhaps formulate some theories for career management? (Are you seeing a connection with careers? Well, not so fast... let's see how this works out.)
Career management is a lifetime endeavor, or at least a career-lifetime endeavor, and unless someone actually does discover a way to stop time, it will continue to march on, regardless of how well time or careers are utilized or managed. Bear with me as I freely interpret some patterns of life and career.
From ages of 0 to about 7 humans are typically pretty helpless creatures, dependent on others for everything, including protection and nurturing. It’s unusual for anyone in this age group to be thinking about careers, although there are prodigies who are already toting up lemonade stand revenue and organizing newspaper delivery in their neighborhoods.
From 7 to about 19 or thereabouts humans grow physically and intellectually in leaps and bounds, learning from others and pulling away from the safe harbor of the known to experiment with the unknown, to take risks and make mistakes that will influence our behavior, our career paths and our lives from that point forward. We are influenced by family, friends, teachers, academic and work experience, mentors and role models, peers, and in no small measure, by the media. Some humans in this age group have had ideas that literally changed the world – think computers.
As humans enter their 20’s and 30’s we establish our own lives as ‘adults’, working, perhaps raising families, and taking on significant responsibilities for ourselves and for others, including financial accountability. We begin to understand what our parents meant when they said… “Wait until you… (Fill in the blanks… own your own house, get a real job, become a parent, etc…).”
As we move into our 30’s and 40’s we typically reach the peak of our careers and earning capacity and may become focused on accumulating wisdom and wealth to lay the foundation for the coming years. In our 50’s and 60s humans remain vital, robust and often committed to full time careers. In our 70’s and beyond, although work often remains a key part of life, humans typically begin slowing down a bit and seek a different kind of safe harbor, including a less stressful and less than 24/7 commitment to career.
As for those theories for career management that I mentioned some time ago (couldn’t resist). Short and sweet… learn from every person and every experience. Assess where you are in your career and your life before your options become too limited or your responsibilities become too restrictive to allow you to make decisions or make a change. The essence of career management may simply be to be aware of time passing and not ignore the moments as they fly by, but instead to take the time to reflect, assess and plan the next step. Ah yes, another topic that falls in the category of ‘easier said than done’.
And what of the thief of time? Well, one might conclude that the thief of time is life itself. As we live our lives, time passes inexorably from one moment to the next. Perhaps stealing a few of these moments to reflect and plan is called procrastination by some, but even if we cannot stop time or stop ageing, it would be wonderful if we each could do as Matthieu Zela did and “... look back on a life lived to the full”.