As I’m recruiting new members for my Vistage group, I hear people say: “this opportunity sounds great but I just don’t have the time.”
I hear you. I have 4 kids at home, a business, a house to run and marriage that I throw some attention to on the weekends.
I’m always out of time.
Personal development gurus will say that we make time for what is important.
But not exactly helpful when you feel like you are the lynchpin for a small civilization on the verge of a coup.
So why is there never enough time? Is humanity running on a broken script? Maybe.
But I think it’s mostly due to how we experience time from a psychological perspective.
Eckhart Tolle examines the idea of psychological time in “The Power of Now.” Psychological time describes our minds' propensity to spend a lot of time thinking about the past or the future rather than living completely in the present.
I can easily spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about the things I need to do and all of the things I did not do.
This creates feelings of anxiety, worry and even depression.
It also creates a self-fulfilling prophecy that there isn’t enough time.
In my article…”are you working or worrying” I pose this question to leaders who are experiencing burnout on the job.
People often cite that they are working too much and it feels unsustainable. But when I coach my clients, we discover that they actually are not actively working …they are spending hours upon hours worrying, anticipating the future, or trying to mentally solve problems. It feels worse than actual work. It’s often subconscious. We don’t realize what we are doing.
As a result, our psychological experience is that there is no more time to give.
This is highly unproductive. Good news….it’s also completely avoidable.
With practice, we can train ourselves to identify when we are stuck in thought and consciously move into action. This results in more action, less anxiety and a healthier perspective on available time.
Try it out:
This week, observe when you are thinking about the things you need to do or solve. Are you actively coming up with real solutions or just spinning? Note in a journal when this occurs and how long you spend in this state.
Don’t try to change anything right away. But note how you feel when you are ‘thinking or worrying.’’ What triggered you to start thinking?
Next week, when you shift into worry or overthinking, ask yourself “what action (even a very small one) could I take to improve the situation?”
In this exercise, you may find that you cannot actually impact what’s happening. There is no action. This is a good realization. You are free to stop worrying and move on.
If you can take some action….put one foot forward and start, however small. Shift into action quickly. Like…in minutes.
When I coach clients, we are able to work on this behavior pattern and create progress over many weeks. The result is new habits that positively build over a lifetime.
And….the gift of time.