Let time work for you

Yesterday, while running on a treadmill at the gym, I realized something: I do not like to run on treadmills. It’s repetitive and boring, and unlike true sports where there is someone playing defense to overcome, all I have is myself. I looked to my left and right and everyone else running on treadmills looked just as sad and bored as I felt. Not a smile among the 2 dozen people racing away, without moving anywhere, like hamsters in a row of hamster wheels.

But then I noticed something on the wall. A little digital clock, slowly counting away the seconds of my run. And as I watched the clock count away I realized as long as I continued, time was working for me. I just had to keep doing what I was doing and my goal of running 4 miles would take care of itself.

Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. As long as I didn’t think much at all, I’d achieve my goal. We don’t like the idea of not thinking being useful, but there is repetition in all important things. Sometimes, during some tasks, not thinking about it and letting time take over, can improve the odds you’ll make it to the finish line.

Studying for a college degree, practicing the piano, going for a daily run, these are all ways to let time work on our behalf, if we just give in. Passion and pleasure have their place, but sometimes that comes only after we’ve put in enough time at something for the payoff to come back out.

Woody Allen once said 80% of success is showing up. Perhaps that means 20% of success is showing up at the right thing and staying there?

Let time work for you is the mantra I’ve been playing with in my mind all week.  Does it mean anything to you?

6 Responses to “Let time work for you”

  1. Larry

    It means we both don’t like running on treadmills. Try running on one for three hours… thank goodness for the DVR and DVDs.

    1. Scott Berkun

      I find it very hard to watch a TV screen that’s 5 inches from my face, especially while I’m running. If I can find a treadmill near I window, I find I can just passively watch things go by, and it’s reminiscent of actually running, just enough, that it works.

      I also find listening to podcasts helps pass the time better than music, as a podcast is a continuous 45/60 minutes of one narrative, but songs are 3 to 4 minutes, meaning I notice all the changeovers (and am reminded of the passage of time).

  2. Jonathan Lapointe

    This is a nice thought. Routine has its good side and yes, stopping to ask ourselves questions is the only thing that will get us through some stuff. This is difficult, I find, in the present world where we are surrounded by instant distraction everywhere.

    On a side note, running outside is a lot more fun that inside. Usually smells better, gets you more oxygen, a more diverse scenery and no “hamstery” feeling ;-)

  3. Jason

    Scott, if you want to read about some great examples of why smart people defend bad ideas (one of your popular posts linked to the right), you should read Good Calories, Bad Calories or How We Get Fat by Gary Taubes, followed by The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. You may give up treadmill running forever!

  4. Franke

    Scott, I think this idea is good if coupled/bolstered by the idea of surrendering. As in, set yourself in a direction and just surrender to the outcome. That’s the place that serendipity happens.


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