Find the things that make you lose track of time

  • By Brian Keane



The quality of our lives depends on what we do with our time on this planet.  Different activities typically affect the quality of experience in rather predicatable ways. If we spend our life doing things we don’t enjoy, then we won’t be as happy. If we do things we do enjoy, we’ll be happier. Sounds pretty straight forward, right? Yet a lot of us go through life doing things that we hate because we’re chasing an end result. One of the most frequent questions I get is ‘what’s the best diet to follow?’ or ‘what’s the best workout routine?’ – The truth is the best diet is the one that is in alignment with your goals, includes foods you enjoy, fits into your lifestyle and you can stick to! The best workout routine is the program that you enjoy. If you hate absolutely hate to run, it’s very unlikely that you’re going to get in great shape running but maybe you love to swim, or go the gym or cycle; in that case, find a way to include that into your fitness regimen!


Work generally takes up a third of the time available for living.  Work can be a strange experience: it provides some of the most intense and satisfying moments, it gives us pride and identity, yet it is something most of us are glad to avoid. Have you ever got up in the morning and thought ‘I wish I could just stay in bed today?’ – We all have.

Work as we know it now is a very recent historical development.  It didn’t exist before the agricultural revolution that made intensive farming possible about twelve thousand years ago.  In classical western civilisations of Greece and Rome, philosophers reflected that work should actually be avoided at all costs (the great philosopher Socrates spent his whole life without a job using his friends and disciples for food and board) and according to Aristotle, “only a man who did not have to work could be happy”. They believed that to attain excellence, their life needed idleness. These were the days when your job titles were more or less pre-determined; if your father was a black smith, you became a blacksmith, if your father a baker, you became a baker etc. Work for the majority took a radically change two hundred years ago and continues today.

We are literally in a time where we have more resources than ever before to create or do any job that we please. The reason I discuss work is that as mentioned above, it takes up a third of your day. If you are doing a job you love (or at least perceive it as something meaningful), your entire mind set can shift to a more positive place, not to mention the physiological response of cortisol (stress hormone) being significantly lower. This can help you become healthier, happier and fitter without a lot of extra effort. Have you ever found yourself turning to food or television to just ‘switch off’ after a ‘bad’ day? This doesn’t tend to happen on our quote unquote ‘good days’ so what if you could go to your job and never have a ‘bad day ‘again? How you see it or ‘framing’ can do miraculous things for one’s life.


How you see your job can be as (if not more important) than the actual job itself. I remember seeing a video at a seminar once about a janitor who worked in the South African Airport bathroom. He greeted every single person who stepped off a plane into the airport bathroom with ‘welcome to my office’ – he did an interview with the famous influencer Robin Sharma (which went viral on social media) and he talks about how we was ‘an ambassador for South Africa’ – he truly believed that as he was one of the first people that travellers saw when they entered South Africa, that he was one of his country’s most important people and the bathrooms were his ‘office’ and how it looked was a reflection of his entire country. How is that for a reframe?

Mihaly Csikszentmihaly talks about a state of flow in his book ‘Finding Flow’ – this is where ‘you’re right in you work, you lose your sense of time, you’re completely enraptured, you’re completely caught up in what you are doing  … “

We’ve all experienced this state of ‘flow’ – for some of us it’s when we are training, in the gym or playing our favourite sport; for others, its spending time with a loved one or being enraptured in a game or task – basically when you feel like ‘time is flying’.

Einstein talks about relative terms how sitting on a hot stove for 10 seconds can feel like an eternity but talking to a beautiful member of the opposite sex for hours (or same sex, depending on preference) can feel like minutes. This is because when we love what we do, we enter a state of flow.

Of course, people who experience this state of flow in their jobs are very fortunate in having attained the pinnacle of glamorous professions, right?  But it would be easy to find great number of famous and successful people who hate their jobs; Robin Williams who was one of the most beloved performers, actors and comedians on the planet hung himself in his home in Paradise City in California. We find this happens time and time again with some of the most ‘successful’ people in the world.

Always remember that success is a ‘subjective term’, it means different things to different people. My idea of ‘success’ was very different in my early 20’s; I wanted to be a pro fitness model, have my physique featured in fitness magazines and become a sponsored athlete so I would get paid to train, all of which I’ve been fortunate enough to have done-remember ‘you become what you think about most of the time’ – Brian Tracy.

Those things, as proud as I am of them, don’t determine my success now. My version of success is becoming and being a great father, using my influence to help people less fortunate than I and creating a business that can help and serve people throughout the entire world. So next time you see somebody that’s quote unquote ‘more successful’ than you; remember that’s just your perspective of what success looks like- it varies greatly from person to person. Determine what success looks like for you!

You don’t need to be rich and famous to find flow in your work. One can find business people, plumbers, assembly line worker or janitors who lover their work and describe it in lyrical terms.  Sometimes, we can’t change the external positions that we hold in our lives but for those people who like what they do, going from liking to loving can be as simple as seeing yourself as an ‘ambassador of your country’ and embodying that image. Thoughts become things.

‘Nothing is neither good or bad, but thinking makes it so’ – Seneca


I can use myself as an example here; when I worked as a primary school teacher, I regularly entered a state of flow (particularly when teaching my favourite subjects: English, History, and PE).  It was the ultimate feeling of ‘having a job’ that made me leave the profession. I now have what I call a non-job where my life and job are merged together and that allows me to enter to ultimate state of flow numerous times during the day.

Love and dedication to ones calling does not have to have the negative connotations of ‘workaholism’ – I’m the first to admit, with the exception of when I spend time with my daughter, every other waking hour is spent either working on my business, consuming information on how to improve my business or thinking about areas that need to be developed in order to grow it bigger.

This can be translated into ‘workaholic’ (which is a descriptive term that’s been used for me on more than one occasion) but the truth is, I get into such a state of flow that I don’t even realise I’m doing it 90% of the time. I share this because if it’s a case where you are unhappy in your job and want to do something else, it’s not as difficult as you may think. The difficult part is deciding what you want (or don’t want as the case may be, then it becomes a process of elimination) and then put plans in place to work backwards from it. Find the thing that gives you ‘flow’, the thing that makes you lose track of time and then try and design a life around that. Create your non job.

Webster’s definition of dichotomy: a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different’

‘Never permit a dichotomy to rule your life, a dichotomy in which you hate what you do so you can have the pleasure in your spare time.  Look for a situation in which your work will give you as much happiness as your spare time’ – Picasso’s dichotomy


It sound somewhat ridiculous to say that one of the problems at this point in history is that we haven’t learned how to spend free time in a sensible way. Sometimes work can be seen as necessary evil and if feel you are just working to pay bills and are truly unhappy in your job then I am the first person to tell you that you should put plans in place to move towards what you truly love. This is subjective to each person- ones person’s dream job can be cleaning bathroom as an ambassador for their country, others it can be running a business that changes the world; decide what that looks like or you and then start putting plans in place to move in that direction.

‘It all starts with a vision’ – Eric Thomas

Brian Keane Fitness Podcast

Brian is a qualified personal trainer, sports nutritionist and strength and conditioning coach.

He is the best selling author of the book The Fitness Mindset and currently travels the world as a professional speaker. He also hosts the #1 podcast The Brian Keane Podcast.

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