It’s About Time (One More Time)!

“Time is really the only capital that any human has and the only thing he cannot afford to lose.”

Albert Einstein

This week we look once again at something that many of us experience: there’s not enough time.  This article is similar to the one I wrote in June, and I’m reprinting it here with a few additions so that those who missed the earlier article can access this information. For example, if you didn’t have enough time to read that one, hopefully, you’ll see this one!

Twenty years ago, when I would ask people why they hadn’t gone on that vacation or written that book or painted that picture, the answer invariably was:

“I don’t have enough money…and I don’t have enough time.”

Now, when I ask the same question, I hear the opposite:

“I don’t have enough time…and I don’t have enough money.”

What’s happened to our experience of time over the past twenty years?

Look at the relationship between time and money. They both share many of the same metaphors. We can waste, spend, or invest our money. The same goes for time.

There is something even more interesting when we look further at time and money. Some have more money, while others have less. However, when it comes to our time, we all start each day with 1440 minutes deposited in our “time bank account” at midnight. How we have invested our time at the end of that day will leave us satisfied or frustrated. 

So it’s clear that we have the same 1440 minutes each day now that we had in 2002. But we can act as if we don’t think that we do. Why is that so?

Psychologists who study our relationship with time report that current electronic devices distract us from seeing what we are doing with time. Emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, and other apps vying for our attention can cause us to lose track of it and waste it. As a result, we experience a “scarcity of time” mindset. As one of my clients, Loren,  told me:

Loren: There are so many things I’d love to do. Places I’d love to see. Books I’d love to read! But there’s always this nagging feeling that I’ll never have time to do what I want. The truth? I belong to a vacation club. I pay a maintenance fee for this one week each year at a place in Cabo, Mexico, that I haven’t had the time to visit for over six years!

Rick had another experience. Like Loren, it was about putting something off because of his “scarcity of time” mindset:

Rick: I’ve wanted to learn guitar since I was 18. I’m now 36. I’ve told myself I don’t have time for all these years! I just realized that if I spend 10 minutes a day learning something new, I will have spent 60 hours on the project by the end of one year.  Sixty hours! That’s like a college course! 

Can you relate to either story? There are many variations in the themes. Keep reading while we look at ways to strengthen your relationship with time so you can use it with clarity, focus, ease, and grace!

The bad news is that time flies. The good news is that you’re the pilot! 

Michael Altshuler, Stony Brook University, Believe and Achieve Tour

Here’s Roger’s story. It’s heartwarming, and I want you to read what happened to him.

Roger was an elementary school principal in an inner-city neighborhood. Each day brought challenges: helicopters flying overhead, children needing special attention, and parents stressed while providing the best home life possible. He was willing to step outside his usual way of doing things to create a safe space for teachers and students. He was dedicated to serving everyone he could reach. 

But Roger’s own dream was going by the wayside. He thought he didn’t have time for himself. This is how our interaction went during my “Doing What You Love” seminar:

Me: I know you love to paint. It’s inside of you! Are you sure you don’t have any time at all?

Roger: That’s right. I go to the school at 6:30 every morning to be there for the teachers who come early. During the day, it seems like one emergency after another. When I get home at night, I’m exhausted. Too tired to think about putting brush to canvas. I don’t have the time to paint. And my two young sons need my attention too.

Me: Ok. Let’s look at when you get home. It’s about 5 pm every day. Do you have fifteen minutes to paint?

Roger: (Getting annoyed with the questions). I told you: no time.

Me:  How about from 5:15 to 5:30 every day ( getting more specific in his mind about the time he could create)?

Roger: Yes, I do have that time. What do you suggest?

Me: Set up an “artist studio” in your garage. Every day when you get home, change clothes and go there for only 15 minutes. Nothing more. Nothing less. You’ve got to promise you’ll only do it for this period. If you do more or less, your brain will tell you again that you don’t have enough time. Keep your promise to yourself. Let’s see what happens!

Three months later, I had the chance to see Roger again at another seminar. He looked much less stressed. And here’s his story:

Roger: “I did what I promised I’d do. I set up that place in my garage. Every day from 5:15 until 5:30, I painted!” ( At that moment, he took out two beautiful floral arrangement paintings he had covered with a bath towel!)

He continued:

Roger: “But here’s what was even better! One day my oldest son saw me painting. He asked what I was doing, and when I showed him, he asked if he could paint with me every day! Now, no matter what’s going on at my school: whether there are helicopters flying and children crying, all I have to do is say to myself: ‘Today at 5:15 I’m going to be painting with my son!’ The minute I have that thought, I immediately calm down. It’s amazing what a difference 15 minutes each day can make!”

What are you gleaning from the above examples? Have you been fooling yourself into thinking you don’t have time for something you’d love to do? It’s about time you broke away from that old way of thinking!

Go ahead! Look at something you’d love to experience: something you’d love to learn. Do you have a creative project?

Even writing a book for 15 minutes each day will get you closer to holding it in your hands than doing nothing and waiting for your life to “give you permission” to start. 

It’s about time you took guitar lessons for 15 minutes each day. Or spent 10 minutes learning a new language. Or… (you fill in the blank).

Do it! Whatever it is: do it! And let me know what you find!

“Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing!”

Miles Davis

Wishing you all my best,