Therefore, schedule your days like you’d schedule a life. A happy life is merely a sequence of happy days, and a fulfilling life is merely a sequences of fulfilling days. Your truest values are reflected in how you spend each passing how. Work is necessary to sustain ourselves, and we should live in abundance past our means –– but, those means need not be very demanding! Seneca believes very strongly in entrepreneurship; he shows great disdain for those allowing others to regulate their time for them. These people are whores of the divine endowment, and they must escape the cycle and find fulfilling, self-directed work as soon as possible. Easier said than done, but if a man wants to live a life of his own, this is what he must do.
For what can there be above the man who rises above fortune?
It is very easy to read philosophy or self-improvement material like this, shrug your shoulders and say, “that’s a nice concept, now back to real life.” “Nothing will change unless you change,” as Jim Rohn loved to say.
What are some actionable steps we can take right now to start moving in the direction of a life which does not slip through our fingers and which does not pass tiredly like a deep and steady slumber?
Follow these steps to apply the aforementioned wisdom. Being exposed to such wisdom and not properly using it is an insult to those who have gone before us.
1. Awake from your Slumber
Examine your life and present arrangements to determine whether or not you are letting life pass you by. More often than not, there question is not whether or not, but to what degree.
Use a notebook or the notes app on your phone to record each passing hour of your day. If you’re tech-savvy enough you can set a notification to alert you at the start of each our to record how you spent the past 60 minutes of your life. Do this for several days. This will be a very irritating chore, but it opens your eyes to how poorly you’ve been spending your time.
I was amazed when I first did this. I found that I was spending over three hours on my phone every day, in ten to fifteen minute segments throughout tasks. Subconsciously I would justify it, “I’m reading the news,” I would tell myself. I broke the habit by asking myself how much value spending three-plus hours on my phone added to my life, and what I could do with those three hours. Imagine what some departed souls would give for just three hours a day in our world today!
I also found a significant amount of my day was spent fulfilling obligations and completing tasks for others; little promises to show up to an event, or to do a “quick” favor, which like a covert agent sabotaged my day. I finally mustered up the courage to start saying “no,” and I am using the newfound time for leisure and personal development.
2. Command your Day
Step two involves planning your day and organizing your time. I used to wake up and just “see where the day takes me.” I’d coast by, but it was no way to live. I’d hectically jump from task to task and stay up late completing essential work. Add in some procrastination, low quality work, and a general lack of enthusiasm, and you’ll come up with a perfectly-average formula for a perfectly-mediocre life. “Failing to plan is planning to fail,” observes Ben Franklin.
As per the advice of Seneca, I started taking command of my life. At first I would plan my entire day the night before. Things would come up, however, and by afternoon I more-or-less threw out my scribbles from the night before.
Try scheduling an entire day and see how it goes. If that doesn’t work, schedule the individual segments of your day (e.g. in the morning tackle waking up – finishing classes, then tackle the evening to bed time). If not, schedule hour-by-hour. I’m at the point where I can schedule and follow-through for most of my day, but as of yet I’m having trouble predicting my moods and what might come up to schedule and complete an entire day.
Eventually, you can schedule your week, and then, loosely, maybe even your month. Schedule in moments of leisure everyday, and often, so as to not overlook the present. Then, savor these moments knowing that your past-self scheduled in relaxation and pursuit of hobbies as well as bread-winning. A little known fact is that history’s greatest of men were meticulous planners. They knew they needed to command life, lest they be commanded by life.
3. Rise Above Fortune
Seneca advises that we become men and women who are abundant in fulfilling their needs and desires. This applies to all areas in life. Whatever fortune gives, then, is merely a bonus.
In pragmatic application, this means, for example, that one should be emotionally secure with himself. He should thoroughly enjoy spending time with himself. Any friends and partners fortune provides is merely a bonus.
Work to create a source of reliable income which takes minimal time, or which you enjoyably maintain. For some this is passive income through affiliate marketing, for some this is freelancing on a laptop while traveling the world, and for others this is clocking in your hours at the office where you get your work done in an hour and spend the rest of your shift secretly at leisure, or working on your next online business.
In short, do not rely on fortune. Independence and freedom has never been easier in the modern world of possibilities, and we would dishonor ourselves, and our ancestors, if we did not seize the day, lest it slip away.