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SALT LAKE CITY — Time never stops marching on. I remember watching TV every New Year's Eve and seeing the ball drop in Times Square — all while inevitably hearing my parents say, "Every year seems to go by faster than the last." The older I get, the truer that becomes in my life.
Time is precious and it should be invested, not spent. Invest your time in the present, in the relationships that matter most to you and in pursuit of those things that will bring you the greatest fulfillment, meaning and satisfaction in your life.
1. Stop worrying about yesterdays and tomorrows and live today
There are many yesterdays and even more tomorrows, but there's only one today — don't waste it.
Too many people — and I'm certainly not excluding myself — spend too much time fretting about the past and worrying about the future. What's the result of all this fretting and worrying? Stress, stress and more stress, which isn't healthy.
Instead of stressing, live in the moment. Doing this will ensure your yesterdays are full of good memories and your tomorrows take care of themselves. In short, it will lead to a regret-free life.
Now is the time to start living. Have you ever heard the saying, "There are seven days in the week, and someday is not one of them?" Very true. So let's stop putting things off to "someday." Rather, choose today to act on those good intentions. Hold your spouse a little longer, tell him or her you love them a little more sincerely and live in the moment.
2. Remember that relationships matter most
Since time is a limited commodity the question we all face is where to invest our time. There are countless things we could spend time pursuing, so how do we decide which things are most worthy of our investment?
To answer that question, I think it's helpful to take a step back and consider another question: What is my greatest source of enjoyment, fulfillment and achievement?
I'm fairly confident that most people would respond with things like family, friends, organizations that make an impact for good, community involvement, service and other significant accomplishments that couldn't have been achieved alone. In short, our greatest sources of enjoyment, fulfillment and achievement are almost always found in quality relationships with others.
Relationships are what matter most because they are meant to last the longest, and therefore we should spend our time investing in relationships. Relationships yield the greatest returns — both tangible and intangible. And there's no more important relationship on earth than your relationship with your spouse.
3. Set goals and make plans
My dad grew up on a ranch. He is probably the hardest worker I know, largely because of the lessons he learned growing up. For several years, his family harvested hay on a part of the ranch.
I remember my dad teaching me an important lesson he learned from his dad about plowing straight lines in a large field. He told me that the key to plowing straight lines was to focus your eyes on a point way out in the distance and to move toward that point. Regardless of the obstacles immediately in front of you, if you focus on that point and move toward it, you'll be able to turn around at the end of the field, look back and proudly see a straight line.
This lesson has great life implications: We can get out of life whatever we want as long as we fix our focus on a destination and move toward it. As long as our focus is fixed, we'll move in a relatively straight line. At the end of the day (or week, or month, or year, or life), we'll be able to turn around and be proud of the results.
Another wonderful mentor in my life put it this way, "set goals and make plans."
By setting goals and making plans to achieve those goals we outline a course for our life. We're essentially fixing our focus on the outcome we desire. By following that carefully charted course, and making course corrections as needed, we ultimately can arrive at our desired destination.
So, as you seek to live life to its fullest, don't forget to live in the moment, invest in relationships — especially your marriage, the most important relationship — and set goals and make plans.
Aaron & April are the founders of nurturingmarriage.org, a website dedicated to strengthening marriages. They enjoy playing football with their two little boys, watching sports, eating cereal late at night, and going out for frozen yogurt.