How do I find the time to __(fill-in-the-blank)__? I get this question a lot. Or clients will ask, “How do I do all of these things?” Or they’ll say something like this: “Everything I do is important! Everything! And I don’t have time to get it all done! Never mind adding something extra like going for a walk!” Sound familiar?
The question of how to find the time came up at a recent speaking engagement I gave to a group of businesswomen.
“How do I find the time to go for a walk?”
Most of us tend to believe that we need more time. I’m guilty of this myself every once in a while. Wishing for more time.
“If I only could get this stuff done, then I could do that little something for me.”
What you don’t realize is that if you magically happened to get an extra hour, you would most likely fill it with more work. More email. More laundry. More dishes.
And you’d be happy about it!
For a little bit, at any rate. Until the hour is over and you realize that the emails will keep coming, the laundry and dishes will keep piling up, and your to-do list will keep growing.
At its core is the, “if/when this happens, then I can” thinking.
When we approach life with this mindset, we end up spending a lot of time wishing and waiting and having things happen to us. We become responder. We are at the mercy of things like time and circumstances.
Here is the other thing. And you may not like this.
People don’t realize they’re really asking this, “How do I set aside time for me when I continue to choose to put everyone else’s needs ahead of my own?”
You don’t have the time to do everything for everyone and everything else like your family, your job, your business and still have time left over for yourself.
You really and truly don’t.
Here is the essential move to change this. It’s not necessarily easy. But it’s incredibly simple.
You MAKE the time.
You make it. You decide. You choose. No one else. Email doesn’t control you. The dishes aren’t howling out for you to wash them. No one is putting a gun to your head to reply to those emails. You control and choose where you spend your time.
Time is not something that happens to you. It’s not something that you manage. You manage yourself within the time that you have.
You don’t have the time. You make the time.
You may need to take time away from something else. You’ll have to make what may feel like difficult choices. I know what that’s like. To get vulnerable: when I was struggling with stress, overwhelm and burnout it really felt like I NEEDED to answer email immediately. It felt like there was no way I could take a walk because I was terrified that something would happen while I was away from my computer and wouldn’t be able to respond right away. I did not have the time. What I didn’t realize is the stress left me in a near-persistent fight/flight mode, and left me incapable of making good decisions while lack of sleep further impaired my judgement and slowed my reaction times. I realized I needed to make a change when had a close call driving to work one day.
I had to ask myself some really hard questions: what good was I to my job or my family if I was dead? How much could I contribute and live my purpose if I wasn’t healthy?
It was my responsibility to make a change. Not just for me and my future, but for my family. I needed to make the time.
Choosing to walk instead of answering emails were incredibly tough those first several times. But when I realized that I could go for a walk without the world ending, it got much easier. And it will for you too.
I invite you to ask yourself those same hard questions. What will your contribution and impact on the world be if you keep putting everyone else’s needs before your own? Imagine being able to contribute your gifts to the world at a higher level than you can now simply by making time for you.
For those who are plagued by guilt when you do things for your mental, physical and emotional health consider this. You’re not actually doing it for you. When you make positive changes in your life, it positively affects everyone around you.
So don’t make the time for you about you. Don’t spend an hour at the massage therapist, or sit in a bubbly tub with the door closed and ear plugs in for you alone. Remember what you’re doing it for.
You don’t have the time. You make the time.
If you found this useful, I encourage you to share it. You never know who might need to hear this exact message today.