I love a good quote and have particular favourites that I tend to go through phases of using on a regular basis. A quote that is sitting front and centre of my brain at the moment is “don’t count the days, make the days count” from the late, great, Muhammad Ali.
Now I believe there are times when counting the days can be a very useful tool, as a very goal oriented person I find it useful to have countdown to specific target dates to help me focus on achieving the objectives I need to hit that goal. For example, knowing I have a presentation to deliver in two weeks’ time helps me plan the tasks I need to do in order to get ready for that. When its only one week away, knowing whether I am on track to deliver the presentation the way I want, and then each day using a countdown to get to the final version before I stand up in front of the audience. This is not new for me, I remember as a teenager having a countdown on the wall above my desk to constantly remind me of how long it was until my exams to encourage me to focus on my revision.
When I was studying to do my Institute of Line Management Business Coaching qualification a few years ago, it became clear that I am not a natural reflector, by that I mean I don’t naturally spend a lot of time thinking about past events and reflecting on what I could have done differently. Now that I am aware of this natural deficiency, I make a concerted effort to reflect back at the end of each day. I also think looking back at certain events can be a healthy way of remembering what you can overcome, like in my blog “what a difference a year makes”, or how far you have come. I recently discussed with my boss “if I told you a year ago this is where we’d be today would you take it?” and this was a way to appreciate the success of the past year.
I think we all count the days towards certain events in our lives - a holiday, a birthday, a wedding or at this time of year, (yes I am going to say it!) Christmas. We need to be careful of wishing the days away. As a society we also are encouraged to mark length of time since a specific event, again birthdays and anniversaries spring to mind. Again, we need to be careful as this can sometimes lead to a negative mind-set of wallowing in the past, allowing past difficult events to continue to define us. I think we need to be careful that we don’t focus too much on the future or the past and allow ourselves to use the ‘ordinary’ days in ways that make them special too, as none of us know how many of them we have left.