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Beware the Rip Van Winkle Effect

Beware of the Rip Van Winkle effect when you do your planning and scheduling. Don’t let the future sneak up on you while you are asleep — be proactive. Be present.

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Bloomberg says that the secret to an entrepreneur’s productivity is to use time management techniques at work — Be proactive with your productivity, and they have a point.

Make Your Schedule and Stick to It

You will want to take a few minutes each evening and make your schedule for the next day. Then have the courage to stick to the goals you have set. Make a schedule and stick to it — maybe you think that just saying that is easier said than done — but gather your courage and have the guts to do what you say you will.

Beware of the Rip Van Winkle Effect

Ask any older individual — the future really can sneak up on you, and you won’t have accomplished what you have set out in your life to do. The only way to stay ahead of this tendency is to plan carefully, then carry through with the plan. Basically, that means that you will have to be proactive in your life to have a life with a variety of exciting outcomes at the end of it.

Who is Rip Van Winkle?

Rip Van Winkle is a fictional character created by Washington Irving some two hundred years ago. Poor ole Rip had a life of strife in Dutch colonial America made worse by his wife’s nagging. The wife nagged Rip about everything — about going to work — and about being on time. To be fair — Rip was a lazy man, but the nagging from his wife did nothing to help him become what she thought he should.

As a result of the nagging, or maybe just for using the nagging as an excuse — Rip spent a lot of time at the tavern, which she nagged him about as well. “Rip, don’t daydream your life away — you must make something of yourself.”

Rip the Classic Slacker

Just take a look around. Most of us have a Rip or two in our families and at work — he was your classic slacker. Rip loitered in the town square, swap great stories with friends and neighbors. He was well known for hoisting a few down at the gin mill and spent a lot of time fishing. None of these things are bad in and of themselves — but he wasn’t crafting a well-lived life — he was frittering away his best years.

Ole Rip felt like if he kept wild game and trout in the larder, what more was he expected to do? And since Rip was an amiable soul and the town folk all thought well of him, he kept on in this same manner. Only his spouse was dissatisfied with him because she wanted him to make something of himself and stop wasting time. If Rip were a true story, I would sincerely hope that he was happy with himself and that these were his own choices, not a reactionary state of affairs for himself.

Where is Rip’s Productivity?

Your life isn’t your productivity, and your worth isn’t your productivity — but you have to be responsible for the choices.

One fine day Rip sauntered off into the Catskill Mountains for a bit of hunting and fishing. He took along his blunderbuss and his dog.

As he mounted one rocky crag after another, a terrible thunderstorm came up — at least Rip thought it was a storm. But as it turns out, it was a gang of Henry Hudson’s men playing ten pins. Hudson’s men had sailed up the river named after him and had gotten stranded.

Some say that all of Hudson’s men died of starvation — others claim indigenous people killed them. But many believed they had simply lived on and on, and turned into pixies.

Anyway.

Rip Van Winkle stumbled upon Henry Hudson’s pixies on a flat green field. Not only were they playing ten pins, but they were having a great time drinking tankards of strong ale. These hospitable people (very much like your own friends and family) invited Rip to partake in the game and the ale. Never one to say no — he played a few games and drank deeply.

Now, nothing is wrong with playing a few games and having a couple of rounds, but he laid down to rest when Rip was done. And he slept, and he kept on sleeping — for TWENTY years.

When Rip Van Winkle woke up

When Rip woke up, he was surprised to see the long white beard he had grown. His gun was cankered to rust, and there was no sign of his friends, his old dog, or anything else familiar to him. He had developed arthritis and could barely get up.

Rip hobbled down to town he no longer recognized, which was now flying a strange new flag.

Events and time had overtaken Rip Van Winkle, and he had become a relic, a museum piece. He was a strange older adult in a strange new country. He felt happy because the nagging old wife was gone. Still, Rip hadn’t learned to code, learned a new language, brainstormed business ideas, read any books, earned any money, gone on vacation, enjoyed his kids, learned how to cook, learned or participated in a sport, or even seen the Super Bowl. Rip had not built or run a company, worked done, or anything that might be considered progressive.

All of those listed things don’t really matter in and of themselves — but the point is —  because he didn’t plan — all his life choices were made for him.

But don’t feel sorry for Rip Van Winkle. Instead, learn from his story.

How Long do You Spend on Sleep

Make a list of the times you sleep-walk through great ideas at meetings and scheduled appointments and Zoom. After all, there are more ways than one to doze. Unfortunately, since COVID — many are taking a permanent mental siesta leaving their time management skills a little dull. We all know individuals who let the minutes and hours drain away — just like our old friend Rip Van Winkle. Everyone has down days, and that’s okay — but don’t let your whole life resemble Rip’s, where you end up with nothing but regret.

So make each minute count

Don’t worry about which time manage app is best — just get one, start using it, and let the app work for you. You don’t have to be a harsh taskmaster to yourself — choose to do what you already know to do and want to accomplish.

Leave your antiquated blunderbuss and lazy hound dog behind and learn from Rip Van Winkle. Be alive to the possibilities and craft a life with places to go and people to see. Then, plan good work to do that makes you feel alive.

Remember ~

Rip Van Winkle initially rejoiced in losing a nagging spouse, but he grew somewhat lonesome and melancholy, and his remaining years dragged by. He moved in with his daughter, who was grown, but they were virtually strangers. A person becomes too old to hunt and fish, but he never learned to do anything that he could do all his life. Have you? Poor ole Rip could do nothing but sit around now, and he wanted some of his old friends to come and hear the old stories — but they had moved on. Nobody ever came to see him because he had nothing relevant to say.

And nobody will want to know about your life and times if you don’t get them organized and fill them with something interesting to yourself. Rip had all the time in the world — and he used it to sleep — literally, sleep.

Not to Sound Preachy or Like Your Mother, but

Someday you will be a relic — we will all be relics like Rip Van Winkle. So make sure you can look back at your life and time as something you’re proud of and that you feel good about.

Schedule something on your Calendar and make yourself a great life.

Image Credit: Marcus Aurelius; Pexels; Thank you!

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