What to do with the time that is given us

What to do with the time that is given us

Growing up, I was captivated by The Lord of the Rings. I read the books, tuned into the BBC Radio series, and was first in line for the Peter Jackson films. There’s a poignant moment in The Fellowship of the Ring where Frodo, understandably overwhelmed by the enormity of his quest, laments his fate. Gandalf’s wise words in response have always resonated with me: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” This quote isn’t just a memorable line from a beloved story — it’s a powerful call to action.

Reflecting on the times when my life took a turn for the better, I realise these pivotal moments shared a common thread: they were all the result of intentional, proactive decisions. (This isn’t to discount the serendipitous events that can also lead to positive changes — but waiting for fortune to strike isn’t a strategy.)

  • Opting for the International Baccalaureate at 15, diverging from the more typical A-level path.
  • Taking a gap year to explore and understand the world and myself a bit better before university.
  • Convincing my boss to allow for a sabbatical, which expanded my horizons far beyond the office walls.
  • The big leap of quitting my job to pursue what truly mattered to me.
  • Actively choosing to date, which opened the door to meaningful relationships.
  • Relocating to Poole, a move that brought new opportunities and adventures.
  • Sitting down to write my book(s), channelling my experiences and insights to fulfil a lifelong ambition.

None of these were things that just ‘happened’ — I made them happen.

Acknowledging the finiteness of time is crucial. We can never do everything we dream of, nor can we tick off every item on our ever-expanding to-do lists. This realisation forces us to clarify what we truly want, not just in our careers or professional lives, but personally as well.

It also means accepting responsibility for our own journeys. There’s no use waiting for a stroke of luck or blaming external circumstances for our dissatisfaction. It’s up to us to carve out our paths, to decide and to act.

Taking decisive action is key. Sometimes, the steps are small and need to be consistent over time. Other times, they’re more like leaps of faith.

And, of course, holding ourselves accountable is essential. If you’re not seeing the progress you expect, ask yourself what you can do differently. Seek help if needed. Find ways to keep moving forward.

Yes, it’s a cliché, but life really is short. If we dwell too much on this fact, it can paralyse us. However, if we keep it in mind just enough to remind us of the importance of our choices, this awareness can guide us to make more meaningful and intentional decisions.

Let’s not let the days slip by. What choices are you making with the time given to you?

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