Time: The (Real) Final Frontier

Author: AB Staff

Time: The (Real) Final Frontier


StarTrek claims that “Space is the final frontier”; that’s not really true. We’ve been mastering the exploration and use of space for many years now, as we created rockets, satellites, and even an international space station, to explore the space around our planet Earth. What we haven’t done is master TIME!

We experience time as constant; we build watches and clocks, scheduling systems, etc. to manage how we use the time (24 hours a day, 7 days a week..) that’s available to all of us, and usually find we haven’t done a great job at it. We overload the number of things we want to do in the present, which created the Time Management movement. (For clarity, we can’t manage time, but we can master its use.) Einstein tells us that time is relative: at the speed of light, it actually slows down. But none of us yet has jumped on a beam of light and gone that fast to see it’s slowing, so that perspective isn’t valuable for mere mortals like us today.

On the other hand, we do experience the passage of time relatively. Counting for a minute doesn’t feel like a lot of time, but holding your breath for the same interval does. Other examples of how we master the passage of time include:

  • A student recently commenting about the Great Resignation noted that he used to work in a school’s eating hall for four hours a day. During the lockdown he took a job with DoorDash, a delivery service. He works a five hour shift – and experiences it as going faster (and more profitable) than the four hours in the school cafeteria. We all experience time as barely moving when we’re in a state of “flow”, which Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes as “a state of consciousness consisting of optimal experience: deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life.”’
  • To cope with our present life, we re-frame our past, including our perception of how much time events, especially bad ones, actually lasted.
  • We underestimate the richness of our futures. Daniel Gilbert’s research demonstrates that, at all ages, people underestimate the amount of change that will take place in our future. (See his Psychology of Your Future Self video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNbaR54Gpj4). Think about it: We recognize that the 25-35 pre-retirement years consisted of lots of changes in our lifestyle, careers, relationships and experiences, but we only vaguely think of our future – seeing the post-retirement lifestyle al probably staying the same for many years (assuming good health, etc,) , rather than the many different changes retirees actually experience within a few years of the initial change! (In reality, the post-retirement lifestyle change is a launch of your Next Self, which will be followed by many more!) Ask many

The implication for your ability to master time during your 80-year adult life journey is profound. Most of us focus on the tactical techniques, as taught in time management courses. But the real benefit comes from strategically mastering time by planning with greater detail how we will change throughout the almost 80-year adult life journey. We need to compare plans for each of Life’s Essentials to reality (as one does with household and business budgets) and adjust the plans at least annually. Indeed, Age Brilliantly’s partner, FLM- Full-Life Mentoring™, will be launching coaching and educational programs to help people strategically master their futures, to lead more fulfilling lives, by focusing on the many changes each “next self” may experience. (For more information, contact us at Time@AgeBrilliantly.org.) 

Share your experiences with time, and those of your parents – as their experiences influence our future planning. Take Charge; Live Better.