Poverty Of Time
I haven’t written in a while. It has saddened me with the passing of each week when I find I haven’t made the time to collect my thoughts and muse. This is what it has felt like for the past few months to not make the ends of my interests and loves meet. To not have put the food of thought on my table. This is an indication of my perception that I merely couldn’t today. Perhaps I can’t find enough hours in the day, or enough care in my heart to dedicate to myself a moment of reflection. This is misconception number one.
Modern lifestyles dictate a minimum of a 45 hour working week, often more. With space at the end for exercise, food and sleep. On a bad week, one descends into watching TV series, a strange solace for a lot of us. What’s that we all say? “I just need to unwind.”
We often find, that our main goal, usually embodied in our work, begins to eclipse the other facets of our lives. And as important as it is, it tends to unfortunately override any other aspect of ourselves that may exist. Perhaps because of the fear of the potential loss of financial security, independence or social standing, we dedicate a massive amount of our time to a vocation. With time, the interest in and the growth of ourselves in a particular path becomes the sole focus of our lives. There’s not really anything wrong with that, so long as that is what you want. Also different things become the focus at different times in our lives, but be careful that your focus is what you want it to be and not what is demanded of you. Your life is still yours to be lived.
Make time for the things that matter to you. From thin air you ask?
This is more difficult to execute than I am making it out to sound, but if it matters that much, you will find the time. So stop reading the 400 different things that highly “successful” people do and just get on with living. Don’t misunderstand me however, while a lot of our life requires planning, we can also get bogged down with basking in the ambition. I tend to get trapped in the detail, I am a worrier and a procrastinator of the highest order. Combine that with a little bit of perfectionism and you don’t get that much done. Eventually you fill your days with regrets about personal deadlines not met and little promises broken to yourself. Your behaviour needs to try to move away from a destructive internal dialogue, and the only way to accomplish that is to consistently not let yourself down. You are only as reliable as your past. I know myself, I am inherently lazy. I break commitments to myself all the time and I am not surprised if I don’t get around to doing something. And I always feel terrible about it. The truth is though, if I took myself just a little bit more seriously and stuck to my commitments then I wouldn’t allow myself to disappoint me by not doing the things that I profess to matter to me. The mind shift necessary here, is first the acknowledgement of our inconsistency with ourselves and then the commitment to the self to personally perform better. I find that every time I go for a run, I go through a set flux of emotions that are very similar to this. At the beginning I’m really not feeling up to it but start anyway, by the second kilometer I’m wheezing and just want to call it quits. I don’t even like running. I get my second wind on the fourth kilometer and now have the choice of how much I’d like to push for a better time. Some days I revert to lazy Sam and justify a gentle run because hey, it’s pretty impressive I even made it outside. But on other days I tell myself to grow a pair and actually run with my all because that’s what I came out here to do. The decision to do it well arises from that constant internal dialogue where you negotiate with yourself about how to live.
This brings me to the point of being deliberate. Learn to set your intention. Days in the week tend to disappear unless you are mindful of what significance each one might hold for you. So instead of waiting till the fourth kilometer to make the decision, before you take your first step decide what kind of a run you’ll have. If you start off with a plan and an expectation you might have a clearer idea of how you’ll execute it. You’re also more likely to choose positively beforehand, instead of trying to figure it out on Wednesday when you’re feeling tired and consumed by the demands of the new week. I also think there’s something to be said for intention, sometimes we don’t really know what we want or what we’re trying to do. Asking ourselves before we begin is a good way of determining some clarity and may help distill to ourselves exactly what we’re hoping to achieve.
My second theme here, is something I find puts things into perspective when I’ve run slightly off course. I wonder how satisfied I’ll feel at the end of my life. Will I have woken up early in the morning enough times to work on my personal passion project. Will I have stayed up late enough times reading and improving myself. Did I push my body to it’s physical limits when I still had the vitality to do so, and did I explore the boundaries of my own mind instead of numbing it with online quotes, Beyonce’s pregnancy and yet another list of how to get fit in 5 easy steps. Because, why not? I want to get to the finish line with a wasted body and a tired mind. Having pushed it through to its limits, and rest knowing that it’s well deserved. What are you saving yourself for? Surely not for when you’re better prepared? That day never comes and in the meantime you’ve spent your precious time planning. Be careful that you don’t however become motivated by fear. It is one thing to be mindful of your limited time but another to be driven by the prospect of regret. The only thing that separates these two states is perspective. It’s important to be aware of your own motives. It’s as though you need to keep checking back with yourself why you’re doing things. The reasons may change over time but you must be acutely aware of them.
Stop competing. Stop competing with your friends, stop competing with your siblings, your co-workers and even stop competing with your partner. The more you look in the other lane, the less you can focus on yours. Motive is a fickle thing and is oftentimes tainted by the fear of being left behind. Put your head down and do your own thing. When you finally look up to breathe you’ll be glad you didn’t get distracted.
Only when you are completely immersed can you think nothing. When you’re giving all your conscience into the moment, your head won’t be somewhere else. It is almost meditative. Let your efforts be a true expression of yourself. Because it is here, that you get to live.
Stop fooling yourself. Cut the bullshit and get on with it. Plan a little but not too much, ask yourself why and then execute it with that in mind. If you disappoint yourself, don’t hang too heavily on it but also don’t have any misconceptions about why you couldn’t. And until you make the concerted effort stop saying that you don’t have enough time.