When was the last time you “mailed it in?” You know what I’m talking about: you put in the bare minimum necessary to complete a project, you gave your client less than stellar service, you didn’t really pay attention to the action at your kid’s soccer game the other day, or you sat on the couch watching a mindless television show instead of working on your book, researching your idea for a new business, or going to the gym. Life is busy, and sometimes we need to give less than a full effort, or we need to multi-task, or we want to be a couch potato for a minute, but more often than not, we can tend to give less than a full effort for the simple reason that we would rather be doing something else.
We all make choices about how we spend our time at work and outside of work. The career we have, whether it was chosen on purpose or we happened into it by accident, is the one we choose to have today. The friends we hang out with are the people that we choose to be around. The activities we engage in in any given moment, whether we feel we “have” to do them, or “get” to do them, are the activities we choose to do at that moment. We have a choice almost every minute of every day to determine the way we spend our time. Of course, there are consequences to the choices we make, but we can choose to spend our time on one thing over another simply by choosing to do so. Because we are the ultimate deciders of how we spend our time, we should spend our time with one question always lurking in the background: Do I really mean to do the thing I’m doing right now?
Why always ask that question? Because it is important to remember that the choice to do one thing is a choice to not do any of a thousand other things. The time you spend working on a project, or going to your child’s soccer game, is time you will never get back again, ever. If you choose to spend your precious, non-recoverable time doing a particular something, make sure that particular something means more to you than the thousand other somethings you could choose to be doing right then. No hour of your life comes with a replay button. No day gets to be lived over. No year comes around again for you so you can better maximize your experience.
Mean how you spend your time. Mean the things you choose to do. Mean it all.
With that in mind, here are a few movie quotes about not mailing it in:
“The important thing? The important thing is that those twenty boys know in twenty years, they didn’t leave anything on the table. They played their hearts out. That’s the important thing.” Kurt Russell in Miracle
“Forty-five years goes by pretty quickly.”
“Yeah, like smoke through a keyhole.” Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman in The Bucket List
Dr. Leo Marvin: “This is black powder, Bob. Do you know that a tablespoon of this stuff can blow up a tree stump?”
Bob: “How much you got there?”
Dr. Leo Marvin: “Twenty pounds!” Richard Dreyfus and Bill Murray in What About Bob?
“The moment seizes us.” Jessi Mechler in Boyhood