In discovering Ben Franklin’s thirteen virtues, I also discovered his daily routine. Since I was already working towards mastering the virtues, I figured I would give his daily routine a try too. As I adopted his schedule, there is a part of the routine I have found to be extremely helpful to me.
In the middle of the day, from Noon – 2pm, Ben would “read or overlook his accounts, and dine.” Taking time to eat in the middle of the day was a given, but taking to time to read was something I had never previously considered. By taking time to read each day, however, it not only helps me work on my personal improvement and development, but I also feel renewed and energized to complete my work in the afternoon.
This brings me to the question, “Are you an 8-track tape?” I heard an analogy once that went something like this. Music used to be only on records which was good. Then, they invented the 8-track tape which was even better. You could now take your music with you. It was only a few songs and there were other limitations, so the inventors didn’t stop there. Next was the cassette tape. Even more songs and better then the 8-track, but still had flaws. After that came CD’s which was a significant improvement, but, it too, was still not perfect. As of now, there are digital audio files that allow you to have thousands of songs right in your pocket and the quality as good or better than any previous format.
But, what if they would have stopped working towards improvement after the 8-track tape? Sounds crazy, but the reality is most adults do this with their lives. We grow up in school and read in order to learn new things. We continue through high school and into college. After college though, most of us no longer take time to work on improving ourselves. We allow work, family, and recreation to fill up our time and personal development gets put on the back burner. If that is true in your life, then you are an 8-track tape. Who wants to be an 8-track tape?
What if you planned a trip to an unfamiliar destination and the only time you looked at the map was when you first started the trip? What is the likelihood that you will end up at the destination you were aiming for? Not very good. It’s no different in life. If you have dreams and aspirations for greater things, you need to add time to your schedule to work on improving yourself. Otherwise, the likelihood you’ll reach your planned destination isn’t very good either.
So, how do you go about finding time to work on improving yourself? Before I answer that question, let me ask you this. How you do you find time in your day to eat lunch? Maybe you don’t eat lunch, then how about breakfast? I bet I can guess your answer. You plan for it.
In living out Ben Franklin’s schedule, I realized that he planned for time each day to work on self-improvement. Just like lunch, there are some days when things pop up and that time gets lost. But, on most days, you can actually take the time to work onimproving yourself which ultimately means a better life for you and the people you love.
In Proverbs, we are told “To acquire wisdom is to love yourself; people who cherish understanding will prosper.” I have seen this truth at work in my life. Until a couple years ago, I was an 8-track tape. Since then, I started reading and working on improving myself, and my quality of life has vastly improved and I have started to experience true prosperity.
So, let me encourage you today to consider scheduling time in your life to work on your personal development. We give ourselves to so many different things, but if we would work on ourselves first, everything else we do would be better because of it.
I challenge you to schedule time each week for your own improvement, just like you do breakfast or lunch. Read something that motivates you; listen to something that inspires you. Find something that you will help you grow as a person. Stick with it long enough and you’ll never regret no longer being an 8-track tape.