If you asked most people, they might tell you that besides finances, time is what they lack. They might even go on to tell you that making time for what matters most to them is hard, and sometimes even, impossible work. Embedded in this belief is that time is something that you don’t deserve more of, comes to you by magic, by the good grace of another, or when all of the circumstances of your life finally line up to offer you a slot of what you most need more of.
But the truth is, creating time for what you most value will never just fall into your lap. It is something you intend, commit to, and perhaps most of all, protect. And it is an ongoing, day to day process where over and over again you intend, recommit, and continue to protect what is most precious to you.
Not long ago I ran a workshop on self-care where my co-facilitator marketed the offering on Facebook. In total, she got 45 hits saying people were interested. Do you know how many of those people carved out a day to take care of themselves? Zero.
It requires absolutely nothing of us to say that we want something. To say that we wish we had the time to do such and such. On the other hand, it takes everything in us to make the decision to carve out the time to do what needs to be done. To get to the something we absolutely need or find valuable.
This is not easy to do given how many things so many of us have committed to. We live in times where the very real challenge of choice, with its seemingly infinite array of options and obligations, leaves far too many of us frazzled, burdened, and out of time for what we really want and need. It gets even more complicated when we add in that we could likely justify much of what takes up our time as something that we see as “good” or “necessary.”
But is it actually true?* Is it actually true that we need to be filling our days as we do? Is it actually true that all of the things we do to fill our time are either good for us, or even necessary? To answer these questions with any kind of clarity requires that we get beneath why it is that we so often give away our precious time. And we all do it for any number of reasons. Fear. Guilt. Obligation. Insecurity. Stuck in a role. Wanting to be valued, seen and included. The list goes on.
Try this. The next time you are about to commit to yet another occupation of your precious time, ask yourself two essential questions. One, “Why am I really, really choosing this right now? Two, Is this how I want to be spending my time? And then, listen deeply. Asking in this way will likely bring to the surface some hard and difficult feelings to be with. Like annoyance, or a sense of being put upon, or a worry about what would happen if you stop. Not to worry. Feelings will pass. As does time.
*Borrowed from Byron Katie and her Inquiry Work.