Now

“The time is now…”

“No time like the present…”

“Just do it…”

Familiar phrases all, often used with the intention to inspire, with a hope that they will promote and propel people to act. Such phrases impress on us that the only time to act is now, that the present moment is where you live your life and that is where you can impact it most.

But exactly when is “now”?

The German psychologist and neuroscientist Ernst Poppël suggests that our perception of the present moment, of “now”, is a period of time three seconds long. That’s a small packet of time. By four seconds we are starting to experience the past, and a mere one or two seconds is perceived to be our future.

Of course, as soon as we’ve opened our packet of time and gobbled down the three seconds of “now” we’re onto the next, and the next, and the next… The three seconds constantly refreshes so we have no perception that “now” is only three seconds long.

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Reality Sucks

Reality can sometimes be quite dull. In films, TV programmes, or even the news, reality gets changed and made more dramatic and exciting. It seems that we want the altered, edited and “sexed up” version of reality more than reality itself.

Perhaps this is the reason why so many people get caught up (or caught out) by fake news stories; something that is more sensational than reality is far more exciting.

When a Supreme Court case relating to Britain’s exit from the European Union was televised many people commented on how dull it was. Although this was a momentous and historic case, many on social media complained that it wasn’t as dramatic as fictionalised courtroom dramas they had seen on TV.

The film “Sully” based on the true events of the Hudson River plane crash invented tension and conflict around the subsequent investigation that, according to the real Captain Sullenberger’s accounts, never occurred. The real story wasn’t deemed dramatic enough for Hollywood and had to be embellished.

Are we turning our backs on truth?

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I Didn’t See The Signs…

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If you live in the UK you could share in one of my particular frustrations: the sheer volume of signs on our roads. It’s like we have made an industry out of producing and erecting them, often clustered together within just a few meters of each other.

Even when driving at a steady pace, it’s difficult to take them all in, or remember and apply the information or instructions they convey. (Just to clarify, I do recognise speed limit signs – I don’t want my license revoked thanks to this blog!).

The signs are there to protect both road users and pedestrians, and I have no issue with the notion of protecting ourselves. But there is a danger that the more signs we see, the less we pay attention to them.

We sign to say we have read and understood the terms and conditions, when in fact we’ve done neither. There are too many of them to read, so we don’t read any of them – researchers in Norway found that, on average, it would take over 31 hours just to read the terms and conditions associated with the most commonly used smartphone apps.

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Happy Endings!

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Everyone wants a fairytale-style happy ending, right? Everything turns out as planned, for the best, everyone’s happy, dreams are achieved. Movies are great at creating the perfect happy ending, against all odds, where it all just “comes together” in the closing scene.

In real life we too want happy endings, our dreams achieved, challenges overcome, happiness secured. However, real life is not the same as a movie; we have two big stumbling blocks:

How do you define happy?

When exactly is the ending?

Happiness tends to be far more complicated and elusive in real life than in a movie. Nothing is ever really perfect; there will always be some lingering issue or concern. The stuff the characters presumably have to deal after the credits roll and the movie theatre gets cleaned up ready for the next showing.

And what is an ending in our lives? The end of the week, the month, the holiday, the wedding, the big event…?

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Time: Capital or Income?

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“How are you spending your time?”

“Has it been a valuable use of your time?”

“Time is money, you know.”

We use economic terms to describe our use of time, so why not extend the economic terms to our definition of time, not just our usage? Do you consider time to be capital or income?

How you view your time can impact significantly how you spend it. If you view time as income, then it is in essence never ending. Yes, we all know that eventually our time “comes to an end”, but that point is hopefully far off in the distance. And we don’t want to morbidly spend our time considering our demise. But if you view time as income, it gets refreshed, every minute, every hour, every day, week and month. There’s always more time, in the same way that our income gets refreshed each month (hopefully!).

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The Hardest Part of An Easy Life

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Not doing something is often all too easy. Like not making a difficult decision. Or postponing a difficult conversation.

Or not writing a new blog post in six weeks. That’s easy; I just don’t do it.

Not exercising is easy. Not dieting is easy. Not prioritising your goals and dreams is easy. Being a passenger in your own life is easy – sit back and just enjoy the ride. See where life takes you.

Anything for an easy life!

The problem is that it isn’t easy, in fact it’s hard. The weight of your inaction presses down more and more on your mind, and it can become unbearable. Because you do have dreams, you do have goals, you do want more…

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The Attraction of The Highly Unlikely

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Last year the UK’s National Lottery organisers changed how the game worked and, in doing so, they decreased the odds of winning from 1 in 14 million to 1 in 49 million. They took this decision as, over the course of some years, ticket sales had been on a constant decline.

But the decision to increase ticket sales by decreasing the odds of winning seems counter intuitive to most. After all, why would people be more inclined to buy a ticket if they knew their chances of winning had significantly decreased?

The truth – one that the National Lottery’s organisers factored into their decision – is that we tend to be more attracted to bigger wins, even if the odds of winning are increasingly unlikely. As the odds of winning decreased significantly the amount of “no win” jackpots leads to bigger roll-over draws and much bigger prizes.

It seems that the attraction of winning 1 or 2 million pounds is not as big a draw as winning 30 or 50 million pounds, regardless of the odds. Perhaps these days people dream more of being a billionaire than a millionaire!

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A Dream And A Whisper


The value of a business on the stock exchange is largely determined by the confidence of its shareholders in that company’s goals being achieved.

If your goals were a business listed on the stock exchange, would their value be rising or falling? How confident are you and other shareholders (your family, friends and colleagues) of your goals being achieved?

What are your goals built on? How strong and resilient are they? How confident are you in them?

Are your goals built on a foundation of confidence and unwavering belief borne out of defined action plans? Have you communicated those plans to the most important people around you?

Your nearest and dearest are shareholders in your goals; they have a vested interest in you achieving your goals and living a fulfilled life. Have you communicated your goals and plans in such a robust fashion that those around hold the same belief and confidence in your ability to achieve them?

Or are your goals built on a dream and whisper?

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The Nearness of Now

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There is nothing closer to you than the present moment – the right now – and it connects you with every other human being on the planet. It doesn’t matter if they are on the other side of the world or sitting right beside you; billions of human beings are existing, living, hoping and dreaming, just like you. Right now. Geography divides, making us feel distant and disconnected, but time brings us all together. Consider how everyone can remember where they were when…

There are so many ‘whens’. Celebratory and happy ‘whens’, such as the turning of the millennium or seeing a particular nation triumph in the World Cup, as well as sad and sobering ‘whens’, such as acts of terror or natural disasters. Whatever the ‘when’, such moments in time have the power to unite us. We experience life together, not separated by geography and immediate concerns. Those moments stay with us throughout our lives; they shape who we are and who we become.

We often think of time as flowing like a river, on which we travel from the past through the present and into our future. But perhaps it’s more that our boat is anchored to the present, and the water passes beneath us. We don’t move, we always remain in the moment.

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Who Are You Beholden To?

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Whatever it is you’re doing right now, ask yourself this question: who are you doing it for?

Who are you accountable to?
Who is your boss?
Who appraises you?
Who determines your worth?

Often, it can be easy to complain about “the boss”, but let’s face it, work has a massive impact on how you feel. And I’ve not met anyone who doesn’t like to get the occasional thanks from the boss, or feel pride when someone recognises they’ve done a good job. Even if they’re the CEO.

But it can be difficult getting the balance right; between feeling assured you’re doing the right thing and being your own judge, whilst also acting as part of a wider organisation.

Three years ago my partner made the brave decision to leave his job after 16 years and become self-employed – to ‘live the dream’, as it were. At first that sense of relief, of being out of the system, was amazing. No more appraisals, no more performance ratings, no more calibration of ‘scores’.

But the realisation soon came that all that stuff didn’t matter anyway. What really mattered – all that really matters – is the rating we give ourselves, every day when we look in the mirror, when we undertake our tasks, when we do our job. Whatever that job may be.

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