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Fighting Invisible Time Bandits: Get the Most from the Time You Have Left

By Marcia Smalley May 30, 2017 Mindset

I have a love/hate relationship with time. I used to feel like I had all the time I needed. It could drag on forever. Or maybe that was only true when I was five.

Around the age of 50, I started telling myself a scary story, the one where I’m running out of time.

This narrative probably began when my mom died. As long as she was around, I was still a child. When she died, she took that illusion with her. Life shifted, and I started feeling time slip away.

The Invisible Time Bandits

Enter the Invisible Time Bandits. I’d joke about them, but they felt all too real. These fellas were graspy and greedy and took great pleasure in whispering to me about how quickly time was passing. They wanted me to measure the time that stretched out ahead against how much I’d already been given so I’d be disheartened that the scales weren’t balancing.

And the Bandits’ plan was working. If I was ever going to thwart them, I’d need a new mindset. So, I started questioning the whole notion of time.

I’d wonder why some days drag on while the years fly by. I asked, “Why do we mark time in a linear way”? I questioned why I needed to wear a watch and why there were clocks everywhere!

What I wanted was to lose track of time as often as possible – to remain in that state of mind where time collapses, like it does when you’re doing something you love. I wanted to be a Time Shaper.

As it turns out, my goal isn’t so far-fetched. By practicing these three tricks of a Time Shaper’s trade, I’ve (sort of) stopped time and lightened up my life.

Identify What Sucks Your Time

We all have time vampires. These are moments, people and activities that pull you from your natural rhythm then twirl you madly to their beat. These “I shoulds” and “I ought tos” drain you and dictate how you spend your time.

Saying No is a Complete Sentence

It is important to remember that “No” is a complete sentence. But using it as one when the vampires come calling takes some practice. You must ask yourself if saying “yes” is truly in your best interest or is just an automatic response. Time is too precious to be spending it mindlessly.

Embrace Chances to Let Time Stand Still

There are many ways we can allow time to stand still. Listen to music. Wonder at the sunset. Paint, sing, dance. Embrace any opportunity that grants the creative self her moment in the sun.

Give time an excuse to disappear. Allow the moments to stretch beyond a setting on the clock.

I’m better at quieting the Invisible Time Bandits these days. I still pay attention to the hour when necessary, but I’ve stopped being enslaved by the time. In this season of life, my body signals when it’s time to rest: My mind reminds me when it’s time to create. My heart tells me when it’s time to play.

Maybe I’ve earned the right to pay less attention to the passage of time. Or maybe I’m befriending time. Regardless, I’m asking it to move to my rhythm rather than choosing to march to its drum.

And I’m feeling like time can no longer steal from me anything I truly value.

What are your big goals for the decades ahead? How are you dealing with the passage of time? How do you make the most of the time you have left? What time vampires have you vanquished in your life? Join the conversation!

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The Author

Marcia Smalley is a certified retirement coach and life coach, a writer and a teacher. She delights in helping mid-life women step confidently into their next act and design a joyous, expanded life. Marcia provides coaching support to women who are navigating retirement or other life transitions and writes a monthly e-newsletter to her entire online community. Please visit her website at

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