What do you choose, Alive Time or Dead Time?
I can only speak from experience but I’m thinking many others my age are feeling the same right now.
I am at this limbo point in my life, in a space of not quite knowing what to do with my days.
Having just finished my second year at uni I got hit heavy with post-hand-in blues.
For months working intensely towards the one goal of finishing all my projects and handing them in on time to afterward receive these artificial indicators of how well I’m doing.
Now I’m at this point in time after the goal has been finished and I’m struggling to remember what I want to do with my days after being so engulfed by uni work.
Feeling overwhelmed by what was coming next and this feeling of emptiness after handing in something that completely had my time and attention.
I could easily fall back into my old habits of finding ways to fill this time just to get by until the next thing comes along and falls into place, also known as Dead Time.
Or I could use this point in time, where most people are expected to do nothing and take a break from their ‘work’, and turn it into something Robert Greene calls Alive Time.
This is from a video with Ryan Holiday, Robert Greene recalls a piece of advice he gave him when he was transitioning from one job to the next.
“This could be ALIVE time. Or it could be DEAD time. You could wait it out, you could just sit there, you could collect your paychecks, or you could decide to seize this moment and make it a new beginning of some kind. Make it the first step towards wherever you end up going next. You could look back on this period as one of the fondest and most fruitful periods of your life. It just comes down to that choice of Alive or Dead Time.”
Don’t get me wrong Alive Time or Dead Time doesn’t mean completely shutting yourself off from the outside world and engaging in a toxic hustler mentality just to ‘work towards your goals’.
I only know this because I have fallen victim to it many times.
It means in every moment you are having, be present, make it feel alive, make it your own.
Being these habits are still heavily ingrained into me, I am still unlearning them myself.
So when the weather is nice I force myself to go play footy in the park with my mates.
Now the old me would have seen this as a waste of time because I could be using this time to be ‘working’, most likely shallow work anyway.
But instead, now I can use this time and make it mine.
I try to put my phone down, and engage with what is going on.
Feel every muscle I’m using to engage in the activity.
Feel the sun hitting me.
Listen intently to what the people around me are saying.
Listen to the birds in the trees.
Observe what is going on.
The people who are outside around you; what are they doing, who are they with, why.
Be curious and observe your surroundings and take in what is going on now. Not what happened yesterday. Or what you’ll do tomorrow. Engage in the now.
Allow yourself time away from worrying about the future and what work you feel you have to produce next, just get lost in what you’re doing at this moment.
Who knows it may even bring in some new insights you can actually use in your work.
This is more of a mental note to myself.
Whether it is in your work or enjoying some time out in the sun with some friends.
Be present in the activity and fully take in everything you’re doing. It will require your full attention. But it will be so much more worth it. After all, that is all any of us have. This moment right now.
What will it be?
Alive time or Dead time?