Declaring Independence: My Time

This week I am focused on the idea of Independence. We’ve all heard the phrase “financial Independence.” I’ll talk about that one tomorrow. But I think we can take the same idea to many aspects of our lives. Today I want to talk about declaring independence with our time.

Let’s face it, we’re busy. I haven’t met a single person who complained of having too little to do (except maybe in the short term). I think the reason is simple: we see things that aren’t the way we think they should be, so we make a commitment to try and fix them.

  • Maybe we don’t think our physical fitness should be the way it is, so we commit to a new diet and exercise regimen.
  • Maybe we think we need a better career, so we commit to attending college.
  • Maybe we think we don’t have an effective professional network, so we commit to a few clubs or extra curricular activities.

When we make decisions like this, it’s great. The problem is that we usually don’t.

  • We don’t think clearly about the need that each commitment fills. What actually happens is that an “opportunity” presents itself, and we think it might be good, so we say yes.
  • We don’t consider the time it will take. We don’t consider if the gap will actually be filled. We just get to work.

If we do this enough times, we find ourselves overloaded and stressed out.

Now we’re unable to make a contribution, we’ve reduced ourselves to firefighters. We just react to whatever is yelling the loudest. We’re living according to someone else’s agenda or values.

How do we turn this around?

First, I remind myself of the most basic motivation: I am going to die.

I’d better do something important first.

Next, I make a new commitment to myself: to spend as much time as possible doing things that matter as much as possible.

This means eliminating many good things so that I can focus on the great ones. So I perform an audit: what am I doing, and does it matter according to my values and goals?

Lastly, I act.

Thinking about what you do and what you plan to do is great, but until it becomes action you haven’t done a thing. Be careful here, because thinking about doing the right thing will make you feel better, even if you never actually make a change.

Here’s my challenge to you today: declare independence with your time. Don’t spend another day following the herd.