Time is very much like an enemy. It is ever present and ever dangerous. A constant sense of pressure weighs down on us any time we really think about it. There is never a point in our lives in which time is on our side. It is always working against us, whether biologically or socially or in our careers. It is cold, unfeeling and has no patience for the variables that might crop up in our lives. It must be dealt with each and every time or things come crashing down around us.
Most people understand the importance of time in our lives, especially if they have any plans to make a success of themselves. Keeping track of and adhering to the important times in our lives is critical to just about anything we participate in. Without paying attention to when and where we have to be, there would be no way of accomplishing anything meaningful because to get most things done in life requires some form of coordination with others. This is where punctuality becomes key.
Obviously our work lives are centered around being on time. We have to show up for work at the designated start time and then we have a finite amount of time to get our responsibilities completed for the day. No employer wants to pay overtime, so urgency is key in many jobs. Taking too long to get things done is bad for business. And of course showing up late for work, or not showing up at all, creates a seriously bad impression on those you work with. Punctuality when it comes to work is universally understood, if not necessarily adhered to by everyone.
Where most people start to dismiss the importance of being on time for things is in their personal lives. We begin to feel that the stakes aren’t nearly as high as when dealing with our source of income, so a lower priority is placed on making sure we show up for things when we’re supposed to. We might make plans with friends and then show up an hour late because we didn’t account for getting ready or traffic or any other number of variables that cause us to become delayed.
The issue with this is that punctuality is a sign of respect for the time of the people around you, and when we fail to respect the time of others then we are showing disrespect for the people themselves. It may be that it doesn’t particularly bother them, and that’s really a personal decision for each person to make on their own. However, if we are to try to be the best friend, relative, spouse or otherwise that we can be, a foundation of respect is key. Showing up when we say we’re going to displays that we care about the time of others and that we have a fundamental respect for the important people in our lives.
One of the main takeaways that we should bring with us from any discussion about how to interact with other people is that the way we behave should be in a way that strives to do the right thing regardless of whether the person notices or not. We do it because it’s the right thing to do, not to get some reward out of it. Being punctual isn’t just for the other people involved; it’s for us as well. Doing something the right way builds us up regardless of how others perceive it.
Some readers might be thinking that they are very punctual individuals, or perhaps they might be thinking that this particular topic is a waste of time. I would challenge you to analyze your past and think about the various times where being on time was important and whether you met the expectation or not. When dealing with either business or personal appointments, it is a good idea to live by the rule that “early is on time; on time is late”. I have spent my life living by this philosophy and it has never failed me. If you missed the mark, or even just cut it close, you may be damaging your reputation with the people who matter. It’s up to you to make it happen.
What do you think about being on time? Are you chronically late, or do you make an effort to be where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there? Is there anyone in your life that causes you problems with their tardiness? We occasionally lose track of time and might miss a thing or two; no one is perfect. However, placing an importance on the time of others in addition to our own is a great step toward earning not only the respect of others, but also setting ourselves up for success in everything.
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