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All About You: Taking time to savor life: A look back

All About You by Richard Hawk

EDITOR’S NOTE: Motivating employees to work safely is part of the safety professional’s job. But who motivates the motivator? In this monthly column, veteran safety pro and professional speaker Richard Hawk offers his entertaining brand of wisdom to inspire safety pros to perform at their best.

If you believe time seems to go by faster as you get older, you’re right – it feels like it does. The laws of physics don’t change, but according to psychologists, our subjective perception of time alters as we age, causing time to seem like it’s speeding up. That’s been my experience. For example, unlike when I was a child, the seasons feel like they fly by at breakneck speed.

One cause for this age-related time warping is believed to be from a decrease in new experiences. As children, we experienced many more novel events, such as eating an orange, riding a roller coaster or walking on a beach for the first time.

Eventually, with repetition, these events harvest less and less of our attention. So, they come and go without our noticing them. Physical changes, such as the way our neural networks interact in our brains, may even affect our perception of time.

Whatever is happening, you can develop habits – at any age – that will make life seem to slow down and have a stronger effect on your mind. In various forms, I’ve included some of these tips in All About You over the past five years. (Yes, it was five years ago that I wrote my first article for Safety+Health. See how fast time can pass!) I reviewed all of the articles and realized that many were about how to savor life more, which is key to staying motivated. Here are a few of my favorites:

Be more mindful
(Multitasking and mindfulness, October 2013)

Interest in mindfulness has skyrocketed in the scientific and business fields over the past few decades, and deservedly so. Being more mindful means being more in tune with your life. For example, you may have eaten thousands of meals, so now they whiz by without fanfare. However, if you purposely pay attention to today’s dinner and notice how it feels, looks, smells and tastes instead of ruminating about tomorrow’s to-do list, it will seem to last longer. You’ll enjoy it more, too.

Remember: Life’s events don’t seem to go by faster just because they’re familiar – it’s a trait developed from mindless repetition.

Feel and show gratitude
(Be grateful, December 2014)

This is especially powerful when attached to the familiar. I travel often, and although being on a plane easily could feel old to me, I make it a habit to think about how wonderful it is that I can go hundreds of miles in a few hours sitting in relative comfort (if I get an aisle seat). That simple thought has made my flights more enjoyable and memorable. You, too, can add impact to your blessings by being grateful for them.

Remember, your actions matter
(Realize you’re making a difference, October 2017)

Reminding yourself that your actions make a difference and that our profession can have a profound, positive effect on employees’ lives gives your actions more meaning. That, in turn, gives your moments more impact.

Staying inspired
(It’s going to be all about you, September 2013)

I hope I’ve fulfilled the promises I made in the first installment of “All About You” these past five years, and have helped you stay inspired. Being a safety and health professional includes some unusual and difficult challenges, but I think it’s an amazing discipline that’s fun and exciting.

Thank you for all the positive feedback about my articles, especially at the National Safety Council Congress & Expo. If you’re going to be there this year, I hope we get to meet in person so we can share our experiences and encourage each other. See you in Houston!

This article represents the views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

Richard Hawk helps companies around the world create more vibrant safety cultures by showing them how to make safety fun. As a professional speaker, author and musician, he also inspires employees to focus better and enlightens safety leaders about ways to increase their influence. To learn more about Richard, visit


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