4,000 Weeks and a Walk

Hey out there, League!

I recently read “Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals” (4,000 Weeks going forward) by Oliver Burkeman. I’ve mentioned it a few times but I think it deserves a bit more attention as it is my number one book this year so far. Yesterday, I also read this article about how much difference it can make for our health just to take a walk. 

What do the two things have in common? The article from the BBC says, “Not everyone finds it easy to do the exercise recommended by the NHS - two out of three people say they do less than 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate exercise and fewer than 1 in 10 manage more than 300 minutes (five hours) per week.” 

5 hours a week feels like a lot.  But if you include the weekend, that comes out to just over 40 minutes a day. Yet a significant number of us will balk at that number and believe we do not have that time available. 4,000 Weeks is about using our time on the things that matter the most to us. Our health should be one of those things.

The premise of 4,000 Weeks is that on average that is how many weeks we get in our lifetime. Just 4,000. We spend almost 25% of it just growing up.The book asks us to consider what we give the other 3,000 hours to. You probably have heard that in managing our finances, we should pay ourselves first, meaning, you should put money into savings before spending any, including paying bills. The book takes that principle and applies it to time – pay yourself in time first. I’ve said this before, but if we don’t invest in our health then what is the point of anything else we do? 

The social media trap
Many of us, in nibbles and chunks, give hours of our time every day to corporations who are vying for our attention. They make it appear as if they are offering us content we enjoy, but they are mostly using our psychology against us because our attention is their #1 commodity. As we scroll funny pet videos, we are offered increasingly accurate ads targeting our interests. The thing we didn’t know existed until two minutes ago becomes the thing we suddenly can't live without. That is why social media companies spend so much time managing our attention for us and making content we’ll engage with, even if it’s content that we find upsetting. All they care about is that you are refreshing and scrolling, upvoting and commenting, because the more time you spend the more ads you see and the more money they make. 

This is my biggest nemesis. I grew up without the internet. I was in college before it became available in our area. I didn’t have a cellphone until I was in my 20s. I didn’t allow my kids to have cell phones until they started driving. Even that felt too early for me. Too early to sell their attention to advertisers and expose them to an online world that doesn’t care about them. Thankfully, even as teens they enjoyed building forts in the woods and doing activities with friends more than scrolling TikTok. Part of the reason we moved our family back to my hometown is so my kids could have some semblance of the childhood I had – one full of time outdoors and activity. Despite all of that, I somehow still get sucked into social media feeds!

What are your top 5 priorities in life?
In 4,000 Weeks, the author shares an idea Warren Buffett came up with:
“Make a list of the top 25 things you want out of life then arrange them in order from the most to least important. The top 5 should be those around which you organize your time. The remaining 20 aren’t second-tier priorities, they are the ones to actively avoid at all costs because they are insufficiently important to form the core of your life yet seductive enough to distract you from the ones that matter most.”

Time outdoors and activity are in my top 5 and they are largely what my health goals hinge on. I can’t imagine a life without either of those things. As a result, I find it a bit mind-boggling when people don’t prioritize their health in order to allow themselves 40 minutes out of 24 hours to go for a walk. I find it hard to believe that even the busiest person doesn’t have that time available to them if they shift some things around. Most of our presidents have taken time for walking, running, basketball, or other activities. If they can find the time, surely the rest of us can. 

Perhaps we just aren’t sure where to start. Maybe we’ve been inactive for most of our lives and 20 minutes seems impossible. 20 minutes can be a goal for later. It’s ok to tell yourself, “Today 20 minutes isn’t doable, but I can do 5” and keep in mind a goal to each week increase that by 2 minutes until you reach 20. I often tell myself I don’t have time but the truth is I sell my attention to social media instead. When I find myself online for more than 30 minutes or so, or if my watch is yelling at me that I need to stand up, I review that top 5 list as a pep talk to get moving. It works every time. I don’t know about you, but giving my attention to Twitter (X? Whatever it is) isn’t how I want to spend my remaining 1,700 weeks. 

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from the book:
“But even for those of us who genuinely do have much more personal control over when we work, the result is that work seeps through life like water, filling every cranny with more to-dos, a phenomenon that seemed to only intensify during the coronavirus lockdowns. 

Maybe you’re familiar with the experience of returning to your daily routines, following an unusually satisfying weekend in nature or with old friends, and being struck by the thought more of life should feel that way– that it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect the deeply engrossing parts to be more than rare exceptions. 

The lockdowns taught us that things could be different, on a grand scale, if only we collectively wanted that enough. 

What would it mean to spend the only time you ever get in a way that truly feels as though you are making it count?”

I’ve read that last sentence over and over, and it still gives me goosebumps. “The only time you ever get” is everything. What makes life count more than ensuring our health can carry us through everything we want to do in every moment? 

Maybe it would help to go for a walk and think about it 😊 


P.S. Check out the new Momentum Training Program - it's WILD and it will help you to meet that optimally active timeframe without having to think about what to do!

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