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5 Questions Everyone Should Ask Themselves About How They Spend Their Time

Pedram Shojai
Doctor of Oriental Medicine
Image by Jayme Burrows / Stocksy
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November 10, 2020

You determine the "burn rate" of your life. You ultimately decide where the precious time, money, and energy of your life are allocated.

Think of this blended currency of time, energy, and money as the "water" of your life force, and think of your life as a garden. You've got "plants," or important things in your life, that you need to keep watering.

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The key questions are these:

  1. What's currently getting watered and why?
  2. Is it enough?
  3. What's thriving, and what's withering?
  4. What weeds have sneaked into your garden?
  5. How much time, money, and/or energy does this item need from me to stay alive? How about to thrive?

Focus is a magical thing. It's a superpower that's all but missing in our world today.

In life, when we focus on something important to us, it becomes the center of our interest or activity. Focus refers to clear vision and implies an activity or action that brings it about. We exert energy to attain focus on an object we're looking at or on a topic of interest.

When something is important, we often assume focus will naturally happen or be innately there. We do not always think it is something we need to put effort into. This is a big deal because the formula for attaining the life that you choose requires proper use of focus and willpower.

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The problem with willpower.

If willpower alone did the trick, we wouldn't have a massive industry built around failed New Year's resolutions. Willpower is the water in your bucket. You save it up and then empty it all out on a single area of your garden and then wonder why the plants are dying two weeks later.

Look at nature. It's all about sustained nourishment over a longer period of time. Seeds take water and slowly sprout. They wiggle their way to the surface and finally encounter the light of day. Then they fight the harsh elements to remain alive and grow to reproduce and thrive. Sound familiar?

Life has a formula, and the wise follow it and thrive. When we take the combined power of our attention (or focus) and marry it to our intention (or willpower), we get the clarity and sustained attention we need to grow an idea or important thing in our lives. Think of it like drip irrigation.

In our teens, we'd dump buckets of "water" everywhere and find more in the tank. It's easy to be sloppy when "Youth is wasted on the young." Later in life, perhaps in our 30s, we begin to feel the fatigue setting in. We perhaps shift to a sprinkler system and are a little more careful with our "water." Most people stop there and get what they get—often with low-grade fatigue and constant frustration.

But I put it to you that there's a better way. Think of tiny little drip irrigation tubes connecting to each hand-picked plant in your Life Garden. You curate what's going to be there, and then, with laser precision, focus just the right amount of water to keep each plant happy and thriving.

Some plants take more than others, and that's fine. We map it all out and make a life plan that delivers what life needs to each. This way, you don't focus on trinkets you want so much that there's no money for your passions. You don't neglect your health because you think that being a great mom means the ultimate sacrifice of not taking care of yourself, which will eventually mean not being able to care for your kids.

We must find balance and focus on sustaining that balance. The act of focusing is intentional. You have to exert some energy to bring something into focus. So what do we need to do?

We need to develop a practice of focusing on the specific items in our life garden every day so that our water gets delivered as needed. We are here to live life and not pass time blindly.

What does that mean? Let's go back to our definitions.

Living life is the act of staying alive and existing while this miracle called life happens and then eventually ends.

Time is the measure of this thing called life. We come in and our time starts. When our time is up, life ceases to exist in us, though it somehow continues on all around us.

Time lives on a continuum with energy and money. Energy is the currency of life itself. Money gets us food and shelter, which provide the energy we need to keep living life.

Time, energy, and money blend together to make a figurative special sauce I'm calling "water" that we then use and allocate in our personal "life garden" to nourish the important items in our life, which we're going to call "plants." In my new book, we'll be taking a deep dive into the life garden, and I'll help you start mapping out your own.

Adapted with permission from Focus: Bringing Time, Energy, and Money Into Flow by Pedram Shojai, O.M.D. (Hay House Inc; on-sale November 10, 2020)
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Pedram Shojai
Pedram Shojai
Doctor of Oriental Medicine

Dr. Pedram Shojai, a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Master Herbalist and acupuncturist, is the New York Times bestselling author of The Urban Monk and The Art of Stopping Time and founder of Well.org. He is an acclaimed Qigong Master and Taoist Abbot with a practical approach to modern living, using Eastern thinking and practices to help himself and others overcome the Westernized challenges of everyday life, and to wake up and live their lives fully. Pedram is also producer of the movies “Vitality,” “Origins.” and “Prosperity” along with the series- “Interconnected”, “Gateway to Health”, and “Exhausted.” In his spare time, he is also a kung fu world traveler, a fierce global green warrior, an avid backpacker, a devout alchemist, a Qi Gong Master, and an old school Jedi bio-hacker working to preserve our natural world and wake us up to our full potential. His upcoming book, FOCUS: Bringing Time, Energy and Money Into Flow, is about bringing your attention in line with your intention to get the life you want.