Opinion

Saturday 15 June 2019

Dr Ciara Kelly: Are you moving in the right direction? If not, what are you going to do about it?

Dr Ciara Kelly
Dr Ciara Kelly
A notional check list for life shows whether you have achieved a balance

Ciara Kelly

This is the last week in February. Let's just let that sink in. There's no doubt in my mind that 2018 only began about five minutes ago but here we are on the verge of it becoming quite well established and to be honest I'm not really sure how that all happened.

I like doing things quickly. I eat too fast. I speed read. I like people to get to the point in conversation. But this notion that we should gallop through the year is unsettling. Perhaps it's the question of 'Where it will all end?' Because if time passes in the blink of an eye that will surely only end one way for all of us.

But it's relative isn't it? It didn't seem to pass so fast when we were younger. This acceleration seems to be a phenomenon of age. I have a friend who's an actuary who says it feels faster as you get older because a year when you are four, is a quarter of our life. A quarter of your memories. A year when you are 40 is a mere 2.5pc. A teeny fraction of your life lived. It cannot stand out as a long time because in terms of your life it really isn't. It's logarithmic or exponential or some such thing.

So maybe it's OK that we're on the cusp of March but it seems like only yesterday we were getting used to January. But I think it actually begs the question 'What do we do with our time? How do we spend it?' I have some weird, primeval fear of wasting it. I'm sure psychologists might say that's a fear of my own mortality. But to me it isn't death I fear as much as not really living. I'm not sure what it says but I like the idea of cramming as much in as possible. I'm not someone who doesn't like change, I actually crave it.

But if you could look at your life's portfolio as it were what would be lacking? What areas have you neglected? Most people agree I think, that what you need for a happy life are basically someone to love, something to do and enough of the basics. You could probably break that down into career, relationships and personal time. You could drill down further in that career goals can include job satisfaction, career progression and financial reward. Relationships include our significant others, but also our kids and our friends. All of those people who play an important role in your life. And your personal time should include relaxation, physical activity, creativity and stimulation.

These things can be plotted on a wheel if you're that way inclined (which I'm not). But the point is there is a notional checklist for life that illustrates whether or not you are achieving any kind of balance. I know the last time I looked. I was doing OK on the work front but the personal time in particular needed a bit of a tweak.

I've taken up walking which has helped restore some balance for me but I'm keen to finally do something creative - I've quite the yen to take up writing or painting perhaps - but I digress. The point is when months slip by and I don't think I've really achieved very much with my time it makes me take stock. I get angsty and feel the need for a new project. Is it restlessness? Is it some deep personal flaw? It may very well be. But I like the idea of looking hard at life and seeing if you're moving in the right direction. I guess that sums it up. I think in life we are mostly in motion. So where we're going is important.

I think most of us could spend our time more wisely avoiding the sinkholes that sap us. The people that leave us feeling a little bit worse after we meet them than we did beforehand. Or those who we spend all our time with talking about them. The one way street. They never ask about us - yet we continue to settle for that. Or indeed the mind numbing, escapism of social media, television, booze, food or whatever our particular poison is that allows us to passively avoid doing something active.

Normally I talk about taking stock at the start of January or sometimes September but the rapidly fleeting weeks have made me think on it now.

Are you where you want to be? Is your life well rounded? And if not, what are you going to do about it?

@ciarakellydoc

Ciara presents Lunchtime Live on Newstalk from 12-2 weekdays

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