How to Spend $86,400 in a Single Day

If you have been receiving my “Positive Thought” emails for any length of time, you have probably figured out by now the fact that I love stories, and I really love analogies. That brings me to my thought for this week, which I hope you will put into practice.

There was a wise old college professor who taught a statistics course, and on the first day of class of a new semester, he stood at the front of the classroom silently watching all of the young students file into the classroom and take their seats. When everyone was seated, and all of the usual chit chat and rustling around had died down, he walked up to the podium and began with a story. He said, “Welcome to my class. It is my desire to give each of you something that will enrich your lives from today forward. While it’s true that a few of you will take the things which you will learn over the course of this semester and apply them to your career at some point in your lives, many of you will complete the course and will never again look back on this class, or think of the things which I will teach you throughout this semester. It is with that realization that I would like to begin with an exercise.

Pic of Hourglass“I want each of you to imagine that before class is over today, I will be giving each of you a pre-loaded American Express gift card. Each card will be pre-loaded with $86,400.00, and the card be activated at midnight.” As you can imagine, the class immediately erupted into a torrent of commotion, with comments and laughter punctuating the air. “Okay, settle down,” said the professor. “Before you get too excited, there’s a catch,” he continued. “The catch is that this card will only be good for 24 hours. It will become active at 12:00 am, and will expire at the end of the 24-hour period following its activation,” he said.

“Moreover,” said the professor, “any money which you have not spent at the end of the 24-hour period will be forfeited.” By this time the students seemed confused, sure that there was another catch. A student seated on the front row asked, “Can we spend it on a fancy new car?” Another student in the back of the classroom shouted, “How about in Vegas!” Everyone laughed, and the professor replied, “You may spend it in any manner you wish; on anything you desire.”

By this time, the students appeared puzzled, so the professor calmly said, “And so it is with life. This gift card analogy represents each and every day of our lives. Each day we are given a gift of 86,400 seconds. We are free to spend this time any way we wish, on any pursuit that we choose. The only catch is that once those seconds are gone at the end of each day, we will never get them back again.”

Obviously, this becomes more apparent to each of us as we grow older. A by-product of maturity, it seems, is the ability to appreciate the value of time. However, I know many people who are well up in years who seem to have missed this lesson, especially when I hear them repeating phrases such as, “I’m just killing time…” or “I can’t wait for tomorrow!”

The fact is that we should never just “kill time”

and we can always “wait for tomorrow.”

I can personally attest to the power of this principal, as when I look back across the years, I recall times when I didn’t feel like getting up to face the day. Maybe there were things which seemed insurmountable, or maybe I was just tired, but no matter, there have been days when it just seemed easier to take a pause and play an extra game of solitaire, go fishing, or work in the yard. However, it was during these times that I made the most progress in life by deciding to power through the boredom, complacency, or weariness. By doing this, I have found there is credence in the old cliché, “It’s always darkest, right before the dawn.” You see, if we just “kill time,” pretty soon we will find that there is no more time to kill…

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