Playing the Zero-Sum Game

I haven’t been around here much lately. I’m sorry about that.

But I’ve been living one of the eternal truths of life:
that time is a zero-sum game.

I’m a systems thinker, which means I tend to think about how all the pieces and parts of things fit, and work, together. That also means I’m a big fan of patterns—recognizing them, observing them, creating them.

But life, the biggest system, isn’t as simple as even the most complex pattern. Sometimes the systems, the patterns, we create and put in place have to flex to fit the life we lead… the life that, despite all our best efforts, is never entirely within our control. Sometimes there just isn’t more time to have, or more us to give.

I forget that sometimes. I forget that it just isn’t possible to out-system time, nor to add more hours to the day. (Then again, time is my red herring.)

But it’s not possible to make time. We can only spend it. And time spent on one thing is time not spent on another.

It’s our choice, and very revealing.

Time is the most precious currency of all. How we spend it indicates, whether we like it or not, a different kind of pattern: what we value most.

Maybe that’s navigating office politics to make sure the next paycheck comes in. Maybe it’s helping your toddler son get through this particular phase of separation anxiety and your infant son learn (at your expense) to sleep through the night. Maybe it’s drawing a map, and setting a course, for the next phase of becoming who you are. Maybe it’s stopping, and taking a break, before your mind and body make sure you do.

Maybe it’s checking your patterns, to make sure they’re doing what you want them to. That you’re playing the game you want to play.

I wasn’t. I’m fixing that.

Are you?

Image credit: orvalrochefort