Carpe Diem- Seize the Day
Carpe Diem- Seize the Day. This is one of the two Latin phrases I remember from my life. I am not old enough to have studied Latin, nor did I have an interest in languages. Something I missed as a science, math, and engineering student. I have to say that one regret of my life was this lack of interest in wisdom, literature, and languages.
Those of you who aspire to be leaders or managers of others need language and wisdom more than you can currently imagine. A good deal of leadership, management, and productivity literature of today can trace its origins back to the wisdom sayings of the past. For example, “Getting Things Done” by David Allen can be described as a book loosely based on the idea of Carpe Diem. Let’s seize the day. Jocelyn Glei in her book “Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind” clearly is conceptually requiring that you Carpe Diem. And you can see the connections in other books and articles about focus, building your routines, and building habits which all relate to helping you seize the day.
The usual translation of Carpe Diem is “Seize the day”. However, the more literal translation, is “pluck the day.” I found this phrase in Horace’s Odes, Book 1, and later in Lord Byron’s, Art of poetry (1811.) The longer phrase in which they used Carpe diem means to pluck the day, for you know not what tomorrow may bring.
In the 1989 American film Dead Poets Society, the English teacher John Keating, played by Robin Williams, famously says: “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” This is where I first came across this phrase, and it has stuck with me ever since then. I highly recommend this movie- Short on speed chases, but long on wisdom.
Meaning for us
What does this phrase from Horace mean for us today? It speaks to your personal philosophy, your use of your time, your interest in being productive, and your interest in getting things done.
Do today what we must do today because you can’t put it off until tomorrow, for tomorrow may never come. Don’t waste today because you may not have tomorrow. This is especially true as we hopefully wind down this pandemic. Do what is important to you, help others, and remember that we are all a part of the whole.
5 ways to seize your day
Identify each morning the 3-5 things that you need to do to make your day a success. Focus your energy on each one until they are each done.
Take time each day for self-care. Remember to seize the day. So you need to be taking care of your mental and physical health so you can.
Take time each day to meditate. Think about what is going on and identify what you can control and ignore the rest.
Be present to others. When you are with others, listen more than you talk. Build your relationships by listening and understanding.
Take a few minutes at the end of each day to reflect on:
what you are grateful for
what went right
what do I need to change for tomorrow?
“I held a moment in my hand, brilliant as a star, fragile as a flower, a tiny sliver of one hour. I dropped it carelessly, Ah! I didn’t know, I held opportunity.”
“Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we’ve got.”