It slips through our fingers at warp speed. We never feel as if we have enough of it. We bargain. We chase. We cram as much as we can into five minutes, ten minutes. If we can just respond to one more email or get through one more spreadsheet for work.
Many of us are so consumed with getting through our to-do lists that we neglect the rest of our lives.
Many of us are so stuck in trying to complete our tasks that we forego pursuing the goals that really matter.
“I want to write a book but, I don’t have the time.”
“I want to go to culinary school, but I don’t have the time.”
“I want to train for a marathon but...”
Do any of these sound familiar?
But do you really not have the time?
If you feel like you do not have time for the things you want to do, first, ask yourself.
Is it a matter of time, or is it a matter of logistics?
If the class schedule at that culinary school you looked into clashes with your work day, then that's a real conflict. Can you work around this? Is there another school with more available class hours for you? Can you ask your boss for some flex time?
Understandably, logistics are sometimes hard to work around.
But if logistics is not the problem, is time the problem, or is it fear?
We’re afraid of failure.
We would rather busy ourselves with the familiar, with the tasks that we know we can perform well, than take risks.
A marathon is a huge undertaking. You have to log hundreds of miles in four or five months to prepare for one race. What if race day comes and you have a cold or a pulled hamstring and can’t run after all that preparation?
Or even worse, what if you don’t finish?
Wouldn’t it be easier training for another 10k race that you know you can finish, or spend those hours that you would be using for your long runs planting in your garden? You’re a good gardener. It’s familiar. You are confident in your skills, whereas the marathon is the great unknown.
Now, take this out to the worst case scenario. What if you train and then don’t finish the marathon? Is the world going to end? Of course not! Will you feel disappointed? Probably. But that disappointment will pass. And you will learn a lot from the process. Any time we try something new, we grow in ways we never anticipate. It is never a waste, regardless of the outcome.
When fear of failure is not the obstacle, we may be afraid of letting someone else down.
Squeezing in the time to train for that marathon may mean fewer home cooked meals for your family, and that makes you feel guilty. Or, maybe you will have to cut back on you volunteer hours in the school library. First of all, the cut back in volunteering is only temporary. Second of all, they will find another volunteer. Please do not feel guilty! The things that matter most must never be at the mercy of the things that matter the least. *
If the thought of culinary school or training for a marathon is making your head explode because you are so busy that you just don’t know where to begin, then it’s time to de-clutter your calendar.
Look at the week or month ahead.
What are the “have-to’s?”
- For instance, work and caring for your kids.
What are the “want-to's?”
- For instance, I want to have lunch with my friend on Friday.
- I want to take that yoga class on Wednesday mornings.
- I want to assistant coach the girls soccer team.
What are the “shoulds?”
- For instance, volunteering at the library.
- Organizing your office bowling night.
To distinguish between a “want to” and a “should,” we need to examine intention. If it gives you a sense of satisfaction, then it’s a “want to,” but if there is a motive such as approval from others then it is possibly a “should.”
Get rid of the “shoulds.”
If you can’t get rid of all of them, try to whittle them down to a bare minimum. The “shoulds” are usually what clog up our schedules and leave us in a battle with time. We are not invested in “the shoulds,” beyond our need for approval from others, or our need to eliminate guilt (“no one else volunteered in the library this year, and so I should really do it. I didn’t do enough last year to help out in the school…”)
See how eliminating the “shoulds” changes your schedule.
Chances are, you when you get rid of the “shoulds,” you will find hours of free time, creating space for marathon training, culinary school, and the rest of your dreams.
Now go out there and follow them!
©2012 Ilene Evans
*Quoted from Rochelle Melander, in her book Write-A-Thon: How to Write Your Book in 26 Days and Live to Tell About It