The Most Valuable Thing You Have

If someone asked you, “What’s the valuable thing you have?”, what would your answer be?

It should be ‘time.’

It’s the secret to being able to do the things you want to do in this life and it all begins with realizing just how precious it is.

Time is a limited resource. When you’re younger, you’ve got all the time the world. As you add decades to your life, you hit that point where you realize the road is a lot shorter ahead than what’s behind you.

This topic came to mind when I was looking through some old photo albums and I started doing the math. It was the 1960s, which were my kindergarten through 8th grade years. Take a moment to wander back to that time for yourself and see what you remember. What were your parents talking about? What was going on in the world?

As any fan of history knows, the 1960s were tumultuous, filled with riots, wars, assassinations, racial strife, free love, and social evolution.  There’s a lot I remember about that time (and I have to do it while the thinker is still working properly) but what prints the most in my brain is my parents and their references to World War II.  Guys were sent off to war and did not see their families or sweethearts for decades. There was rationing and a genuine fear that the enemy could win and take over our country.

This is where the math part comes in. That was in the 1960s, when they were remembering the 1940s. That’s 20 years.  To put that into perspective, it would be like us talking about the 1990s, which to the younger generation seems like forever ago.  However, to us seasoned citizens, it seems like yesterday.

All this to say that the events that take place today are the ones we’ll be talking about in a fast couple of decades, which our children and grandchildren will treat like ancient history. It just goes by so quickly.

So, while not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, my biggest personal goal for 2017 is to continue what I’ve been doing the past couple of years and making every moment count. Not in June, when this is over with, or the fall, when I tackle something else and get it out of the way. Now. Today. This moment you’re spending reading the ramblings I’ve slapped down on this cyber page.

I have been blessed with many life lessons and reminders that we only have so long on this planet.  We’re here now and some day we’ll be gone. But why worry about the second part of that equation, when you can focus on the here and now.

The world is far from perfect. But I’m convinced that by taking each day as it happens, while taking steps to make the days ahead even better, we can each maximize our time here. Not for others, but for ourselves.

This week, reconnect with someone you’ve been meaning to sit down with and get caught up.  Grab coffee, send a long-winded email or a Facebook Private Message.  Reaching out to those who matter to us has never been easier and, because of that, we can tend to take it for granted.

Years ago, during my brief stint at 100.7-The Wolf in Seattle, I discovered a whole bunch of really great country music songs. I hadn’t paid much attention to them, but when you play them on the radio, you find yourself listening to the words. This Tim McGraw song really resonated with me and I hope you’ll set aside a couple of moments to enjoy it.

I love this concept. Live like you were dying.  If you found out you had a year left, you know you’d change the way you live.  So, how about doing that now, while you’ve hopefully got many years to go and make each of those years count?

Minute by minute.

Thanks for stopping by friends. Now, get out there and live!

Tim Hunter

The Anti-Resolution

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Look, New Year’s Resolutions are fun. You make a run at something, it usually doesn’t work. Our society has conditioned our brains that an annual tradition is to set ourselves up for failure. We’re supposed to create an unrealistic expectation that you know you could never maintain for a long time, commit to it for as long as you can and then, when you give up, it’s OK–that’s what New Year’s resolutions are for!

What I’d like you to choose as your anti-resolution for 2017 is an attitude, not a promise. I guess you could summarize it in two words: value time.

Seriously, look around. There are all kinds of ways to waste time. Video games, mindless TV shows, being stuck in traffic, waiting in line–all very insignificant things, unless you suddenly find that time has a limit.

This just handed me–it does.

The tricky thing about time is that you don’t know how big the serving is that you’ve been dished. Sure, if you’ve got until 90, you can play solitaire until your heart’s content. But imagine if you went in for a physical, the doctor said, “Oh-oh..” and you were given six months.

We’d all value every second we have and make it count. Well, adopt that philosophy now. Why wait until you’re told you don’t have much left?  I’d love to think I’ve got decades ahead of me and, genealogy-wise, that could be.  Or, some fluke could happen and it would all be gone tomorrow.

The reason I bring this up is that several people I know (most likely, because I live on one of the coasts) are all but dedicating the next four years of their lives to being upset about the recent election results.  Now, granted, there are concerns about the potential directions of the country, but step back and think: how much influence do you really have on what happens?

Yes, you should keep an eye on things and raise your hand on every wrong action. Next election, you can vote for change. But, remember–you had a life. A unique experience of friends and memories and excitement and passions. However, I see too many people deciding that being upset is their choice of a lifestyle for the next four years. How tragic.

Start living with ‘the worst case syndrome’ being over your head every minute of every day and that’s really not much of a life. You can look at the good, or dread the bad. Go see the tulips when those fields come alive in a couple of months in Mount Vernon or wake up every day and be obsessed with what’s wrong or could be wrong with America.

I believe our ever-so-connected, uber-updated world is taking a toll on a lot of caring people. If you decided to try a New Year’s resolution this year, may I recommend focusing on the gift you have right now: time?

There is so much to appreciate surrounding you, that could all be taken away in an instant. Savor it. Love it. Treasure it. Then, wake up tomorrow and repeat.

Have a great 2017. It’s out there, if you want it.

Tim Hunter

The Key To Happy Holidays

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Every year, it happens.  We think we’ve mastered this routine and something always gets away from you.

You get your gift buying done and the cards don’t make it out.

You get the cards out in time and realize several days before Christmas, you never got around to getting a tree.

We all have our various holiday checklists and I’d like to think I’ve got pretty much everything under control. To be honest, this year, I’m liking how the season is turning out and I will be pretty much able to enjoy the final few days before Christmas without panicking.

However, no matter how well you think you’ve got it under control, there’s always something standing by to stress you out.

It can be a comment from a relative that came out wrong. A misunderstanding at work. Buying an expensive gift for someone who gave you a Jelly of the Month Club Card. (It IS the gift that keeps on giving the whole year)

What I try to do is be on the lookout for those little reminders to stay calm, to realize there’s only so much you can do and that our own holiday happiness is an individual responsibility.

The other day, when trying to blast through the Christmas cards, I hit a bad batch of envelopes. I mean, c’mon–I managed to make the annual Christmas letter a reality, printed it out on Christmas paper, got the photos for the family card through the system, to Costco and printed. So, I was on top of it all and these lousy envelopes were failing me.  I’d lick them, close the flap and press hard…and they still wouldn’t stick. I figured, what the heck, I’ll just Scotch tape ’em closed. That’ll teach ’em!

I was about a dozen taped envelopes in when I realized there was a strip of paper on the envelope. I pulled it off and would you look at that–adhesive envelopes. Just pull off the strip and they seal up like Fort Knox.

It was time to take a breath. Ask Alexa to play some Christmas music and get back into the season.

Again, the holiday is what we allow it to be. You want sad, you can have sad. And if you need a boost, go down to the mall and watch the eyes of those kids waiting in line to meet with Santa.  We were all there once. We can all be there again.

Merry Christmas.

Tim Hunter

I’m Doing It

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I have been with Chase Bank for a long time.  Well, actually, it started as Washington Mutual and then they were gobbled up by Chase. Bottom line, it’s been a couple of decades of having the same account number and having payments automatically withdrawn or checks directly deposited.

But recently, I paid attention to that little statement you get every month and they were charging me $13 just to have the account there. Apparently, the balance had dropped below the freebie level and my checking account was bleeding at a rate of $156 a year!

That doesn’t work.

This year, the ad agency I work for, Create Impulse, added N.W. Plus Credit Union to our client roster. It’s a local credit union with a half-dozen branches and the biggest thing we promote for them is their Totally Free Checking. And when the latest $13 clip occurred on my checking account, it was time to act.

But I had accumulated 215 Reward Points with Chase. Before I closed that account, I didn’t want to let those getaway. I mean, heck, maybe it would be worth a new toaster, microwave oven or something. But every time I tried to redeem them online, I got the message, “We’re sorry, but this feature isn’t working right now.”  After three weeks of trying to get my earned rewards online, I called them up.

I received a sincere apology for the inconvenience, along with an offer to just convert those points into cash. No brainer, “Absolutely,” I said. A couple of clicks of the keyboard and then the voice at the other informed me that the money had been deposited into my account. All $2.15 cents of it.

Gee, should I quit my day job?

NW Plus doesn’t have any branches near where I live, but neither do online banks like Ally. If I need to deposit a check, I can do that with my phone. BECU’s are everywhere, but when was the last time you stopped by there and didn’t have to wait in a long line?

Now, I have Totally Free Checking. My debit card works everywhere. And, the way I look at it, I’m already $156 to the good in 2017 and the New Year hasn’t even started yet.

Changing banks can be clunky. All those auto-payments you have set up, re-entering all the bill-paying information. But it feels good to take the action I’ve been meaning to do for several decades and to support a local, not-for-profit credit union.

They also have a rewards program. Maybe, in no time at all, I could rack up another $2.15!

Just wanted to share.  Have a merry one.

Tim Hunter

He Better Behave Himself This Year

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Any subject goes when you go in for a haircut, but it’s the time of year when the holiday stories come out.

This past week, I went to see my personal hair designer/stylist whatever you call them, Sherri Bell, and we started talking about kids and keeping their belief in Santa Claus. I think we all do things to sell it–plate of cookies by the fireplace, a glass of milk, maybe a carrot for Rudolph–all looking like they had been tampered with by our jolly visitor when you wake up on Christmas Day.

Sherri admits she probably over-sold the concept to her kids. She did all of the above, but one year, when their faith started to fade, she added muddy boot prints on the hearth and knocked over one of her living room lamps.

As the kids came in, she said in a stern voice, “OK, that’s it. If Santa comes in one more time and wrecks my house, we’re canceling Christmas!” to which the kids replied, “No!!!!!!!”

That’s why you should always believe in Santa. Otherwise, if Sherri finds out, God knows what she’ll do to your house to get you back with the rest of us.

Merry Christmas.

Tim Hunter

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“I didn’t do it! I was framed!”