By Pierre Ah-Fat

Are you among those persons who begin their day with a to do list? Do you often bring remaining tasks forward for the following day? Does this leave you with a feeling of incompleteness? Do you go to bed with the burden that there is always more to do the following day?

There are 24 hours in a day. That is equivalent to 1,440 minutes. How wonderful would it be if we could all live plentifully each of these minutes! How marvelous if we could remain aware, focused all day through? Is such a thing really possible? The power of the present moment or the now has been the subject of age old as well as modern teachings. Among the numerous theories and techniques, researches confirm the positive impact of mindfulness on a number of afflictions like ADHD, worries about the past and the future, depression. Still other schools of thought prefer to use the term ‘Godfulness’ or filling each moment with God. Those believers offer their slightest action to God, even if they know they might be distracted. They have ‘reminders’ that help them to refocus their awareness because the mind wanders.

It’s not uncommon to suffer from lack of concentration at all ages. So many learners experience the split second mind blankness between the moment they see something on the white board and their decision to jot it down on paper. Is it really strange to find people who once they have walked to another room, forget why they came there? We often attribute this to ageing, but there are younger persons who also suffer from this type of forgetfulness.

If our long term memory does not fail us, we would recall how at school, we were taught that primitive man learnt to guess the time with a shadow stick. Then man invented the clock and today the world is invaded by digital clocks. Humans themselves decided to live by the clock and we also became in a sense, slaves to our own clocks. We will not engage here in the highly philosophical debate on whether time exists or not.

Let us simply assume for a moment that each of the 24 hours or each of the 1,440 minutes was spent plentifully thus continuously following each other. This sounds so perfect, but as humans it is not always easy to continuously maintain our focus. However, we can try to maximize the moments of ‘fullness’. The longer we maintain our attention, the greater is our self-satisfaction and sense of achievement. We cherish memories of intense moments well spent or enjoyed.

Management gurus refer to the effective use of time or strategies to avoid wasting time. To justify that they spend their time effectively, many professionals say they like doing things in the right way. They talk of excellence at work. We know of so many people who are so disciplined and rigorous that they would do each little thing meticulously. However, to live plentifully is it sufficient to do a thing in the right way? Or should we rather be doing the right thing in the right manner, not forgetting ‘at the right time’? Doing the wrong thing with excellence may well be a complete waste of time. Examples abound of activities that were done in an almost perfect way but that leave the person unfulfilled because the actions were not in accord with the person’s core values or were not aimed at the common good. Quite a good number of professionals I have talked to, confirm that they are not doing the job that they would have liked to do. They may have been forced either by circumstances like a difficult economic situation or the exigencies of earning a living or even pressure from family or their peer group.


All too often, as in other fields we adopt a curative approach instead of a preventive one. Not enough emphasis is laid on the time wastage caused by wrong choices. We adopt time management techniques aftermath, when too much time has already been wasted in taking wrong decisions. Before we can even think of making a plan to establish our priorities, there is one thing we better decide right at the outset, that is how to make the right choice. Otherwise we may well be losing our precious time.

When choices are made under pressure

Very often if not most of the time, we are expected to make crucial choices for our future at the wrong time and in the wrong manner. This starts as early as secondary school and this has not changed, where an adolescent is not only faced with the study problems and future career choice, but has to choose subjects for study, under the pressure of physiological transformations, when hormones are playing havoc and impulses are not always easily manageable. This is the time when they aspire to freedom and independence while being aware at the same time that they still have to depend on their parents. (The paradox of: ‘Set me free but do not abandon me!’ Maria Montessori).

We dwell on this period as it is one of the first phases in the life of a human being when crucial life choices have to be made. It is understandable how so many young people make the wrong choices in all good faith when they are not properly guided and advised.

Later in life, as adults many of them find themselves toiling hard in a job that does not allow them to unleash their full potential or to exert their natural talents. The situation is worsened for those who become redundant at mid-career mainly because of the prevailing economic situation. They have to make another choice for the rest of their life.


To overcome certain fears and resistance when putting first things first, it helps to break down our goals into:

• ‘WHY’ goals: Your whole life goal. Why do you want to achieve this goal?
• ‘WHAT’ goals: Your professional ambition: career, finances, security, status
• ‘HOW’ goals: How are you going to achieve the ‘what’ goals?

Carefully examining the following may help in making the right choice:

My Interests

What do I enjoy most to the point of being unaware of the time spent doing it? This is more a matter of the heart than of the mind.

My Skills

My talents. Which activities am I good at?
Have I undergone the test to find out how I learn best? Is it by:
- seeing (visual memory),
- listening (auditive) or
- touching and doing (kinaesthetic)?
In which subjects have I reached my peak performance, my best results?

My Goals

Which are the areas of life more important to me? Define precisely what I wish to accomplish in each area.

The Scope

What is the career scope that the fields I am choosing can offer me? How do I get the proper financial resources if I have to study in view of that career?


It is said that there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. (Ecclesiastes 3). It is comforting to know that there should be no regrets for what happened in the past since everything is transformed for our own good according to believers. As for the future, it is yet to come. Let us therefore use the present time plentifully, minute by minute, second by second, doing each thing in its own good time, one after the other. Let us spend the present time to its fullness, comfortably, without too much haste.

© Pierre Ah-Fat.

Author's Bio: 

As a Career Coach, Pierre Ah-Fat assists persons tap their inner resources to transform stumbling blocks into stepping stones enabling them to move forward to become the best they can be. The journey of transformation enriched by his international experience, focuses on self-knowledge, the unleashing of natural talents and strengths, motivation, communication skills, managerial competencies, goal setting, career choices and transitions, the development of creative and innovative strategies to face new challenges, change management,continuous fun learning.