By Peter Fraser, Headmaster, Colston’s School
Article written for the Bristol Evening Post
The New Year is traditionally a time for reflection and review. What really matters?
We resolve to alter our behaviour, change our priorities and review our lifestyles. We know that we could, and should, be better people.
The most common New Year intentions are to lose weight, exercise more, stop smoking or drinking, be a better person and spend more time with the family. In general most resolutions deal with health, relationships, money and the use of time.
The holiday excesses often prompt consideration of changes to our habits and lifestyles, and we always start with the best of intentions. But by the middle of January we have forgotten these and revert to our old ways – over 50 per cent of New Year’s resolutions are broken before the end of the month!
Statisticians tell us that the average life span is now around 75 years, and most of us think that this is a long time. It is, however, revealing to analyse how most of us spend this time without giving the matter great thought.
We will have spent 24 years asleep, 14 years working, 12 years engaged with hobbies or leisure pursuits, 7 years eating, 5 years talking to other people, 5 years travelling, 3 years in education, 3 years reading books, magazines and newspapers, and 1 year being ill or recovering from illness.
Total these and you have, for most of us, an indication of how we spend our time. How many of us I wonder recognise the value of the time that we have and the importance of using it wisely?
How should we value one year? Ask a student who has failed an important examination and has to re-sit.
How should we value one month? Ask a mother whose baby arrives prematurely and has to be treated in intensive care.
How should we value one week? Ask someone who is critically ill.
How should we value one minute? Ask someone who has missed a plane or an important engagement that cannot be rescheduled.
How should we value one second? Ask an Olympic athlete, someone who just misses being involved in a major accident or someone saying goodbye to a loved one that they will never see again.
How much should we value the time that we all have? Much more than we do!
A Middle Eastern mystic once said: “I was a revolutionary when I was young and wanted to change the world. Now that I am an old man I have begun to see how foolish I have been. My one prayer now is, Lord give me the power to change myself. If I had prayed this from the start I would not have wasted so much of my life.”
Of all things in the New Year let us resolve to reflect on the way we use our time and to make full use of this, our most valuable possession.