The M&Ms Principle

Posted on February 17th, by Sean O'Shea in Training Tips. Comments Off on The M&Ms Principle

I have this concept I use to keep myself aware of time – both in the micro sense (time for completing a project or objective) – and time in the macro sense (life and death!).

Back in my serious candy eating days I would be so excited when I’d grab my daily bag of “sharing size” peanut M&Ms. Every time I’d stop in at a shop to get the bag it would always be a toss up as to what was the best part – the chocolately goodness I was about to engage in, or the overwhelming joy of a brand new bag – a bag that seemed endless.

I’d open the bag, pop a few a few in my mouth, and feel so good knowing there was a seemingly endless supply on its way. I’d merrily eat on, feeling ecstatic about the taste and the actual amount of M&Ms I had to yet enjoy. And then, inevitably, I’d hit that mark in the bag. The place where you can’t kid yourself anymore. The place where you have to come to grips with the fact that this is not a bottomless bag. You realize you’re past halfway, and that you’re actually able to kind of imagine how many are really left.

That’s always a bummer. But then it gets worse. Then the real hard stuff goes down.

Somehow, you’ve gone from a seemingly endless supply of delightful peanut M&Ms, to the past middle point, to the unthinkable…the last one.

How the heck did we get here?

And just like that, the amazing, wonderful, spectacular bag of treats is gone.

And when I get there it always hits me – life (and time) is the exact same way. Wether it’s working on a project or living life, at the start we always feel we’ve got an endless supply of time to get everything we want to get done, done. We alway feel the bag is bottomless. But just like the M&Ms, it’s an illusion. What seems endless at the beginning – a day, a project, a life – never is. Time keeps on flying by, and piece by piece, moment by moment, you’re running through your bag.

And one day, sadly, your own bag will be empty too.

So don’t let the illusion of time and the seemingly endless supply of days punk you. The bag started running out – as soon as you opened it. There WILL come a day when it’s empty.

Keep the M&M principle in your consciousness.

Be mindful that while it seems like there’s more than enough time to get it all done, to do it another day, to take that trip, to make that decision, to share your heart, or chase that dream, all of our time is finite. That clock is flying! Don’t panic, don’t be an anxious wreck, but do be aware. Don’t kid yourself. Be real. Make your moves, take your chances, take the risks. Do what you need and want to do with the awareness that you only get so many M&Ms. So many days.

No matter how big the bag seems, it’s never bottomless.

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