Negligence is the rust of the soul that corrodes through all her best resolves – Owen Feltham.
The Drift Into Neglect
When I typed the word neglect in Google, I was stunned that the majority of the returned searches centered on childhood neglect. As I read the articles, a sobering feeling overcame me. Tears filled my eyes. Article after article relayed the emotional and mental aftershocks that childhood neglect causes deep into adulthood. This was not my original intent to learn more about neglect but I learned that neglect, the intentional refusal to care and give attention to something or someone important, can create deep scars that are difficult to heal. The neglect of children highlights the danger of neglect but also the drift into neglect that shows its effects later in life.
In a world of instant gratification, we tend to neglect what doesn’t bring immediate results. We find ways to focus on what scratches the itch of the instant at the expense of what matters and lasts. I believe one reason children are neglected is that their worth, purpose and potential are often overlooked. The failure to give due attention to the worth, purpose, or potential of something or someone is more often than not a leading cause of neglect. Another failure leading to neglect is the underestimation of what is possible today and the overestimation of what is possible tomorrow. Putting off what is important to tomorrow closes the distance between us and the results of neglect; regret. When we look back at the number of todays we have underutilized in the name of tomorrow, we discover the low value we place on today. The tomorrow we hope for will not exist without the appreciation of the power of today.
The Power of Today
Today is a day unlike any other. It’s a one-of-a-kind, never-to-come-again, potentially life-defining window of time that’s only available for the next 24 hours.
Today is not like anything you knew yesterday or anything you might discover tomorrow. It’s not a moment you live for but the moment you live in right now.
Today you will not sit around waiting for your time to come. Today you will choose to jump out of bed sparked by the awesome awareness that today is one in a limited series, the priceless thing that makes life so incredibly valuable. Worry about the future or regret the past. Today is your day. You own it.
Today is the day you embrace the opportunity to make a difference in your community and the lives of others, perhaps even a complete stranger or two. It’s the day you tell the people you love that you love them, and the people you hold a grudge against that it’s OK; they are forgiven.
The above caption reminds me that today’s neglect is tomorrow’s regret. Excuses play a big role in losing the power of today. The biggest excuse for not doing something that matters today is we will get around to it tomorrow. What do you keep saying you will start tomorrow that can change the trajectory of your life if you begin today?
What Needs Your Attention?
Neglect slows down momentum when we accumulate enough todays with no movement in a purposeful direction. Our progress goes through five degrading stages as neglect weaves its way through our lives:
- Run: This is where our decadence towards our goal is free from excuses, and neglect is non-existed. Our attention to what needs our care and focus is high. We are strategic and purposeful in keeping what is vital front and center and what is trivial to the side.
- Jog: At this stage, obstacles arise and get in the way of our momentum. The obstacle distracts us, and we use tomorrow as the excuse for not doing what matters today. Our progress starts to slow. Instant gratification becomes our comfort food and
- Walk: As we consistently postpone what we could accomplish today and neglect becomes our default, significant progress is lost and is noticeable. This is the crossroads where regret can serve as a warning to change course or a lullaby.
- Crawl: Unheeded regret brings our movement to the crawling stage. Lingering regret, born from repeated neglect spreads like cancer, and eventually, we arrive at the final stage.
- Halt: At this stage, giving up is viewed as the only option, and stagnation is the result. An uphill climb back to the run stage is seen as unlikely, although not impossible. Changing course at this stage is possible with a reset of focus and renewed attention to what matters. In short, all is not lost.
Final Thought: Neglect creates scars that are hard to heal. It cuts deep in the soul and rarely leaves anyone affected unscathed. Your quality of life is at great risk when neglect is invited as an active participant in your life. Putting off until tomorrow what needs attention today could be a sign that neglect is creeping into your life. Take a personal assessment and check if there are areas in life where neglect has gradually taken your progress in a downward direction. Gaining clarity on this is key to reversing course and making today count.
Keep on keeping on!