Has anyone said they do not believe you when you say you don’t have enough time to do X, Y, or Z? Has anyone challenged you to find the “wiggle room” that would allow time for those activities, without backing down when you resist?
My clients are a microcosm of the professional world at large – high achieving, intelligent individuals looking to manage through tough transitions while searching for the best versions of themselves (and a few minutes to do nothing at the end of each day…). So challenging them to find the “wiggle room” in their lives is not an easy feat. The assumption that they do not have enough time is deeply held AND, at the same time, holds them back, exhausts them, and stunts their productivity.
When you say that you do not have enough time, you are really saying that you do not want to. This is a tough pill to swallow. Your reaction may sound like this:
“But I do want to exercise.”
“But I do want to see my kids more.”
“But I do want to spend time on my business idea or writing my resume.”
I do, and I will, when I have more time.
Really? I am not sure I believe you.
The “time” mantra creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more it plays in your mind, the easier it is to believe, and the harder it is to fight. This leads to nothing – no movement, no action, no growth. Without growth, there is no fulfillment. And fulfillment is defined by whatever it is you wish you were doing, if you had more time.
You need to deconstruct the “time” mantra that is so clearly ingrained in your brain. The good news is that everything begins with a thought, and we are the masters of our own thoughts.
This brings us back to the concept of “wiggle room”. When I challenge clients to find the “wiggle room” in their schedule to include the things they wish for themselves, their first response is inevitably that there is none. Clients and bosses depend on them, hours must be billed, businesses must be built, and mortgages must be paid.
But here is the next question: If you knew that you had to find two hours of exercise/downtime/one-on-one time with your children each week to prevent a heart attack on the last day of the following month, what would you do? You would find the two hours.
I guarantee it.
My point is not to create a fictitious world of fear in which you should live. It is to show you that when push comes to shove, there is “wiggle room”. There is always “wiggle room”.
Buying into this new assumption takes practice. Here are three steps to get you started:
1. Notice. For one week, merely notice how often you allow the “time” mantra to play in your head. Noticing is the first and most difficult step to awareness. Without the awareness, you cannot break the cycle.
2. Set the Intention. What is the new assumption with which you will re-wire your brain? Be clear on this, as it is your first line of defense to the “time” mantra. Some suggestions include “I always have time”, “I want to do this” or “This is what I need”.
3. Find the Wiggle Room. Choose one activity, pull out your calendar, and get honest with yourself. Work with your spouse, your boss, your colleagues, but primarily yourself: get off the subway one stop earlier and walk, schedule dates with each of your children for one-on-one time, hire a trainer to come to your house, or get yourself into bed one hour earlier twice per week to work through the stack of reading material that has piled up.
Although it may not always be a matter of life or death, it is a matter of your life and how much it is worth to you.