In the Finger Eleven song “One Thing,” the lyric “I’m restless tonight because I wasted the light” can be a mantra repeated by most of us on occasion, when we realize “Where did the day go?”  The hours ticked by, we did “stuff”, but go to bed feeling like no significant priorities were accomplished.

Another metaphor is when you are on the beach right where the water rolls in and hits the sand. The longer you stand there and let the waves roll in and out around you, the deeper you mire in the sand. You start becoming part of the beach! We experience this when we don’t decide to move out of our comfort zone and toward a brighter vision for our lives. We simply stand still too long in indecisiveness, and get stuck in a rut.

What will it take to snap you out of this unproductive pattern? I’m not beating you up about it. I simply want to cheerlead you to the pursuit the best version of you and the most fulfilling life you have imagined. Another week cannot go by without you saying, “All right, that’s enough! I have got to get some goals and run after them.”

It starts with your values and your vision. Your core values are what is most important to you. They drive your behavior. And when you live contrary to those values, you are in dissonance, and feel “a little off.” When you honor your own values, you take actions to support them, and it brings you deep satisfaction that you have lived true to yourself. And as a side benefit, other people around you also receive your best attention and love because you are in “the zone.”

First, values, then, vision. Have you taken the time to think about where your life is headed if you remain on your current trajectory? If nothing changes in your daily habits, you will be at the same place next year that you are this year. You aren’t in competition with anyone else; only with yourself, one year ago. Can you name the ways you are better than you were a year ago? If not, dream big about your future. Start outlining what you want said at your memorial service someday when your time is up on this planet. What do you want said of you, and who do you want attending the service and saying those things? Once you think that through and write it down, you can begin a plan to start taking actions congruent with those words. You are, as Stephen Covey said, beginning with the end in mind.

Armed with your re-discovered core values and compelled by an exciting vision for the rest of your life, it then comes down to time management: annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily. You, for the most part, control your discretionary time. What will you plug into those times? What steps to accomplishing one piece of your vision will you carve out on a regular basis–and not blow yourself off?! You would never skip out on an appointment you set with someone else, but why do we do that to ourselves? When that block of time shows up on your calendar where you have dedicated space for moving the ball forward on one of your goals, do it! And experience the endorphins of crossing a big item off your list!

Tired of wasting time? I hope so. How you manage time will determine your success and impact of your life. We are all counting on you to take it seriously.

Need some assistance in time management for greater impact? It may be time to hire a coach, an objective source of inspiration and accountability, who will pull out of you what you need to do, to achieve more than you ever have before–and enjoy yourself while doing it! Reach out at growingforward@paulcasey.org