Do you remember back in high school or college when you had an exam coming up, and you were too busy having fun to study all along the way?

If you were like most of us, then you crammed for the exam. That is, you waited until the last minute to cram all the knowledge into your head before the test.

Now that we’re all grown up and have these very busy careers and busy lives, I think a lot of us still do the same thing when it comes to other areas of our life.

I feel like I get so busy at work that I don’t have time to go to the gym, to read that book, to take my dog for a walk in the park, spend extra time with my kids, learn how to knit, whatever it might be. I might even really, really, really want to do some of those things, in fact, most of those things. But I keep putting it off.

Some things you just can’t cram

Just the other day I read an article that said there are things that you just cannot cram in life. It was such a light bulb moment for me, and I want to share it with you.

Unlike exams, where it felt okay to cram and learn things in a burst, in life there are some fundamentally important things that we want to have like relationships, good health, and any number of things that we really value. Yet we’re putting them off just like it was another exam.

The important thing is if you and I keep doing that, we’re going to wake up one day, look back and say, “Where did that time go? What was I thinking? What was I doing? I was doing the wrong things!”

I don’t want that to happen to you, me or any of us.

That’s why I want to highlight three things in life that you just cannot cram.

Investing in relationships

The first one is relationships. You can’t just pay no attention to somebody and then all of a sudden spend 100 hours in a row paying attention to them. It doesn’t work that way. People tend not to like that.

Instead, it’s about showing your caring, showing your love, spending the time all along the way. This might apply to your children or your partner. It might apply to your clients.

Thinking back to my experiences in my banking days, clients would not look kindly on my not calling them for a year, and then all of a sudden hearing from me when they were about to do a big transaction. That didn’t work very well. And the same thing holds true with other relationships.

Becoming fit

The second thing you cannot cram is your fitness and your overall health, including things like your cardiovascular fitness and strength.

For example, in my mother’s generation, women just didn’t do exercise along the way. She used to be a sprinter back in college, but then when she got out of school people just didn’t go to the gym or do yoga back then.

Then at the age of 79 she started working out because she started to realize she needed more core strength to keep from falling. Yes, she gained muscle mass and her fitness improved, but imagine if she had been fitting exercise in on a weekly basis, maybe even a daily basis, all those decades.

Sleep is also part of fitness, and you can’t cram sleep. You can’t stay up all night for five nights in a row and then sleep for five days. It doesn’t work that way.

Having the relevant experience

The third thing you can’t cram is experiences. Here, I’m thinking about the kinds of work experiences you need to have in order to become that more senior person you aspire to.

Let’s say you want to become a general manager one day. You’ll need to have had experience in the relevant functions you’re managing. Or maybe you want to become the top in your field in a particular area. Then nothing substitutes for having that depth of experience, and you can’t cram that.

Either way, you have to do the work. You have to show up. And you have to make sure that you’re in the right place and have the right platform to gain all those experiences. The thing is, you can only do that over time.

Incorporate what matters into your life

Those are just three areas that I have come across that you just can’t cram in life. Nor would you want to because it could be really fun to be enjoying better relationships, fitness and experiences all along.

So, if you are someone who’s a doer, an achiever or chasing a big prize, then make sure you take a moment to step back and recognize what really matters to you long-term.

And if something really matters to you long-term, but you’re not doing anything on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis right now, then think about how can you incorporate that into your life.

It doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but you do have to make it part of your normal habits and your normal behavior. Doing that makes your life richer, and helps you be happier and more successful.

Wouldn’t that be great?

Leave me a comment below to share what really matters to you, and how you’re going to work that into your daily life.