The Only Number That Truly Defines You

Which one of these really defines me?

When you think about it, there is no way to define who you are by these numbers:

  • Age
  • IQ
  • Cholesterol level
  • Blood pressure
  • Etc…

Those are numbers you either accumulate through time, or a hand you are dealt by genetics and lifestyle choices. They don’t define you. We know some 70-year olds who seem more healthy and vibrant than 30-year olds. We know that having a high IQ is not a ticket to success and often works into the lack of motivation of those “smart” people. The most successful people come from those who are well-nurtured and desirous to excel regardless of IQ.

Your health numbers can be controlled, bettered or worsened based on your genetics and your choices.

None of these numbers tell us anything about you. They only suggest who you may be.

But, there may be one number that defines us all: 72

That is it. We all have it and use it, although some use it much better than others and that is truly what defines us.

Here is how we get our 72

How we use our time is really how we are defined. We are all bound to this constraint as long as we live on planet Earth. You can divide up time differently, but it is the same amount of time for all of us no matter how you slice it. Time is constant and inevitable.

Here is why 72 defines you…

24 hours / day x 7 days = 168 hours.

We sleep, on average, 8 hours a day. That is 56 hours in a week.

We either work or go to school roughly 40 hours / week.

That is 168 hours/week – 96 hours of necessary sleep and obligation. That leaves 72.

And those hours are the 72 that define who you are.

Wait, what? I can hear your excuses now as I have made up many of my own.

Does my job not define me?

  • What about travel time to and from work, school?
  • What about cooking meals and trips to the store?
  • What about getting ready for school or work?
  • What about homework or jobs that require more than 40 hours?

Well, what about them?

  • Even if you get 1 hour travel to and from = 10/week.
  • Let’s give you 1 hour/meal (that’s way too much, but okay) = 21/week.
  • Let’s give you 1 hour to make pretty in the morning = 5/week.
  • What about homework or extra work/overtime, let’s say = 7/week.

All of this = 43 hours

We can eliminate all those pesky hours of getting ready for life and still have a solid 29 hours left over, but if you use 43 hours a week to get ready for life, it kind of defines who you are already.

What do we do as Americans to fill up our 72?

One guess.

The average American watches 34+ hours of TV each week!

If you make the argument that this somehow betters you, well, that statement defines you.

There is really nothing on a screen that can make you better than:

  • Exercise
  • Reading
  • Gardening
  • Learning a new skill (language, art, instrument, cooking, volunteering, etc.)
  • Spending quality time with your family
  • Traveling somewhere new
  • Being outside doing anything
  • Etc.

The obvious statements about defining YOU

If you spend your 72 bettering yourself and working on hobbies, you are using that time wisely – that defines you.

If you spend your 72 watching TV, gaming and numbing yourself so you can get through your job or school – that defines you.

If you spend your 72 working extra time because you love your job and it betters you – that defines you.

If you spend your 72 working extra time because you are trying to make more money to pay off debts you don’t need and buy more things you may not need – that defines you.

If you spend your 72 working to put yourself through school so you can better yourself – that defines you.

If you spend an hour/day cleaning the house so you and your family live in a healthy environment – that defines you.

Exercise and Reading

I have heard many people say they do not have time to exercise or read. How is this possible?

Even if you exercise 30 minutes a day, that’s only 3.5 of the 72.  Really, you cannot find time for that?

What about reading? If you take the time to read 25 pages/day (I’ll give you a generous hour for that), that is 9,125 pages/year or roughly 30 novels. That’s just in 7 of your 72.

Just so you know – if your read one act of Shakespeare per weekday starting on January 1st, you will be done with his whole canon by September 6th. You can have the rest of the year to read his sonnets and poems with ease. That can be done in less than one hour per day. You probably don’t want to do that, but just to show you what you can accomplish.

Getting rid of the excuses

I know there are other real-life mitigating circumstances that can take up your 72, but what about your true free time?

Take one week and simply write out your schedule as it plays out. Find out how much free time you truly have as opposed to time you waste. This is your number.

How much time does it take you to experience work or school? (Getting ready, traveling to, eating before, during and after, coming home). What about your weekends? That is 32 waking hours of improvement.

If we go off the Malcolm Gladwell rule of taking 10,000 hours to master anything, it would take you less than 4 years to become a master of one thing if you use your 72 wisely. But that is way more time than it takes you to become proficient, really good or great at any one pursuit. You could do that in far less time.

You can get a black belt in Tae Kwon Do in two 45 minute classes/week in just over 3 years.

You can actually train for and run a marathon in 30 weeks even if you have never been a runner – 20 weeks if you have some experience.

You can master the art of cooking anything in a matter of weeks. How about one great healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner? Just one of each. How much better off would you be if you focused on becoming a healthy chef for you and your family?

What if you turned off the TV and went to bed at 9am and got up at 5am to exercise, read, meditate, or whatever?

The simple fact is that a better you is in that 72 and most of us give the ownership of ourselves to distractions – not betterment.

What owns you?

What do you do with your 72?

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