Alicia Karwat Alicia has over 15 years of corporate experience and has been helping professionals, managers and executives identify and develop extraordinary powers they didn’t even know they had, for over 5 years. To find out more view Alicia's full bio or visit Alicia's website

Reclaim Yesterday, Enjoy Today, and Master Tomorrow

By Dr Alicia Karwat, KeySteps Pty. Ltd.

Do you know how your time orientation influences and guides your life choices and your decision making? What is its impact on how happy you feel and how successful you are?  Would you like to be more constructive with your time and acquire a “healthier time perspective”? If that sounds interesting, read the new book by Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd “The Time Paradox”.

This is not another book on time management. It is an interesting and useful reading about different psychological ways we perceive time and likely implications stemming from adopting a particular time perspective.

Just think about the difference the following two attitudes to the past could make on your life, your relationships and decision making.

  1. Your attitude to the past is predominantly negative, and you think and talk about how bad your life has been.
  2. Your attitude to the past is positive, full of great memories, gratitude and appreciation.

What about your attitude to the present? Imagine the difference that stems from:

  1. The fatalistic approach when you believe “what will be will be” and you do not have any influence on shaping your life, so “why bother”, versus
  2. The hedonistic approach when you enjoy your life to the fullest, however on the downside - sometimes you can go overboard or get into trouble with excess drinking or the law.

Let’s think about your possible attitude to the future.

  1. Do you have a vision how you would like your life to look like in 5, 10 or 20 years? Do you set goals and stretch yourself to achieve more education or to progress you career? Do you postpone self-gratification now to reap some benefits in the future?
  2. Alternatively, perhaps you are not able to sacrifice anything in the present for a future reward, you do not think much about consequences of your actions, and you do not like to plan and do not save enough to secure your financial future. Are you pleasure-seeking and instant self-gratification is the way of living for you?

Healthy balance is the goal

Although we are not usually one dimensional, our unique time combination perspectives greatly impact on who we are and how our life looks like. Each time perspective has its positives and negatives. Those who are extremely future orientated usually do well in their careers and financially, but may miss on life pleasures and developing lasting relationships. On the other hand, those with an extreme present hedonistic perspective tend to have career and financial problems.
Evaluate your own time perspective. Is it a healthy one?

Check how you rank in each time category

There is a test in the book and online where you can learn what your unique time perspective is and compare it to the healthy one suggested by the authors. In the book you can find plenty of exercises that can help you change your time perspective, and use your time perception to your advantage. As the authors say: “Reclaim yesterday, Enjoy Today, and Master Tomorrow”

Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd, The Time Paradox –The New Psychology of Time, Rider, 2008

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  1. well written post…thank you

  2. Thank you!

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