If you’re looking for a great thoughtful read over the holidays, you might check out Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman.
I read a lot of books. Generally, I’m not someone who write in books, underlines, and drops in post-it notes. But this one was different.
It’s a thoughtful book about time and how we perceive it and how we use it.
Here’s an excerpt:
As the world gets faster and faster, we come to believe that our happiness or our financial survival depends on our being able to work and move and make things happen at super-human speed. We grow anxious about not keeping up--so to quell the anxiety, we try to achieve the feeling that our lives are under control, we move faster. But this only generates an addictive spiral. We push ourselves harder to get rid of anxiety, but the result is actually more anxiety because the faster we go, the clearer it becomes that we’ll never succeed in getting ourselves or the rest of the world to move as fast as we feel is necessary. (Meanwhile, we suffer the other effects of moving too fast: poor work output, a worse diet, and damaged relationships) …. You must stop accelerating, yet it also feels as though you can’t.
This way of life isn’t wholly unpleasant: just as alcohol gives the alcoholic a buzz, there’s an intoxicating thrill to living at warp speed…”
This struggle is one I perpetually hear from my clients - and one I’ve lived myself.
And what to do about it? How to change? How does this start in the first place?
His observations and empathy about the challenges we face with regard to how we spend our time are spot on and refreshing. He also unpacks some of our faulty strategies with bracing clarity.
“...We invariably prefer indecision over committing ourselves to a single path...because the future, which we dispose of to our liking, appears to us at the same time under a multitude of forms, equally attractive and equally possible. In other words, it’s easy for me to fantasize about, say, a life spent achieving stellar professional success, while also excelling as a parent and a partner, while also dedicating myself to training for marathons or eighty mediation retreats or volunteering in my community -- because so long as I’m only fantasizing, I get to imagine all of them unfolding simultaneously and flawlessly. As soon as I start trying to live...I’ll be forced to make trade-offs”
He introduces concepts that show us the context we’re living in, how we automatically manage that context without recognizing it. The book has a personable and easy-to-read tone that I liked too (not sure if that’s reflected in the quotes I chose!)
As we’re working through the second year of a pandemic, reassessing our lives, our jobs, our worlds, this book guides you through how you may wnat to take a new lens on your time as well. A great one for downtime over the holidays.