(I updated the video because the old one was blurry. Enjoy!)
“I just don’t have the time!” Hands up who’s said that? It’s the No. 1 reason I hear from people when we talk about why they don’t pursue their passion(s) more. Heck, I’ve said it myself more often than I care to admit.
There are countless gurus advising on how to maximise your time and productivity. But most of us are exhausted already and unwilling to stuff even more into our days.
Your mission today is to learn how to slow down and magically have time for everything.
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Task 1: Learn about the nature of time
Time can be measured and divided into hours, minutes, seconds. It seems straightforward and logical, yet we’ve all experienced periods where time seemed to speed up or slow down and drag. In truth, time is very, very relative.
Does time really fly when you’re having fun? I’d say, when you’re truly joyful and do what lights you up, the hours might fly but altogether, time expands and disappears. We’ve all been busy and then fallen in love, and suddenly we found all these pockets of time for our beloved – true or true?
Task 2: Get rid of Quadrant IV
I’ve mentioned Stephen Covey and his Quadrants before: I is important and urgent, II is important but not urgent, III is urgent but unimportant, IV is neither urgent and important. In other words, we can do without IV – it’s quite literally a waste of time.
What’s in Quadrant IV? Mostly time spent online. Emails, social media, gossip pages… If you don’t believe how much time you spend there, download an app that measures your usage time. I have never met a person who didn’t underestimate how much time they spend there. Imagine having these hours – hours! – as time for your passion.
Task 3: Time for your passion(s)
The dominance of everything online is so heavy, I’m planning a course for a social media detox. Watch this space. In the meantime, you can take the following first-aid measures:
- Close your browser when you work. Yes, really.
- Turn off all notifications on your phone. Social media, messages etc.
- Check your emails, social media and messages 2-3 times a day.
- In your bedroom, your phone/tablet etc. is on airplane mode. No exceptions.
It’ll be awful at first, but after a week or so, you’ll feel that you’ve got your life back! Try it and let me know how it goes.
Superheroes, school of hard knocks, overcoming obstacles like a boss, those are the ideals that surround us. And it’s sure admirable how humans can succeed in the face of adversity.
However, not all of us are inclined to tough it out. Some have fears or anxiety for any number of reasons: health issues, traumatic experiences, personality. Are we doomed to mediocrity, then?
Far from it. Your mission today is to learn 3 ways of using the power of softness and joy.
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Task 1: Learn the power of softness
We’re so brainwashed by the tough-hero ideal, we feel inferior for our reluctance to headbutt with life’s challenges. Therefore, you need to counter-brainwash yourself first.
Have you ever seen ivy grow through a wall? Which one do you think is tougher?
Water can hollow out a rock by steadily dripping on it. That takes a long time, though – but water also has the capability of flowing around the rock.
Softness is more flexible and finds solutions where toughness keeps knocking its head against the wall.
Task 2: Ways to use your superpower
Here are a few ways to make use of the astonishing power of softness.
- Listen to yourself. If there’s somehing you absolutely don’t want to do, perhaps delegate it, pay someone to do it for you, get help. You could also consider doing it yourself, but in a different way.
- Is there something want to do but never seem to get around to? It won’t happen unless you plan for it. When’s the last time you magically “had time” all of a sudden? You never did and never will, so determine a day and time and schedule that sh*t.
- Discover the magic of 15 minutes. You can do anything for 15 minutes! Of course you won’t finish the task, but you can make a start. Try 15 minutes of exercise, or of pursuing your passion. Set your alarm and try it. You’ll be floored by the impact.
Before I say anything else: From today’s title, you may have noticed that I do use adult language occasionally! Just a fair warning in case that’s not your thing.
A lot of my Coaching clients feel they should be doing more and that they fall short somehow. It seems to be an almost universal feeling. In some cases, trying too hard to get shit done even leads to complete inertia.
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Most people have completely unrealistic expectations of themselves. They think if they don’t “function” perfectly and are productive every minute of every day, then they’re doing it wrong.
As a first step, realise that you’re not a machine, and neither are you supposed to be. It’s simply not how humans work! Stop measuring yourself against others and putting pressure on yourself.
Separating the wheat from the chaff
The second step is to take a good look at your life and clean it out the way you’d sort out your closet when you want to give some clothes to charity. Just like decluttering the closet, it can be hard to let go of some things. When you’ve done it, however, you feel a profound relief and clarity.
Focus on getting done what really matters to you: Yourself, your family and friends, your passions, and the necessities of life. Everything else gets cleared out.
Accepting your human nature
Step three is to accept that you’re human and to play to your strengths. Some people are “seasonal workers” while others are particularly productive at a certain time of the day. Do what works for you, and don’t forget to work in breaks and self care as well.
Once you’ve accomplished these three steps, you’ll feel yourself settling into your own personal rhythm. Ironically, when you stop stressing about it, you’ll not only feel happier but you’ll also “get shit done”.
I had the idea for a story about two years before I actually wrote it down. It wasn’t writer’s block, it was simply a matter of having too much going on to be able to focus on writing.
There was just too much to do all the time.
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The six-months rule
There are, of course, times in life when things just get busy, but it happens to everyone and it’s perfectly normal because life is cyclical by nature. For example, if you just had a new baby, then you won’t have time for much else for some time.
However, there are some people who’ll always tell you that the stressful times are about to come to an end, and then two years later, they still have the same excuses. Don’t string yourself along like that! A good rule of thumb is that after six months’ time, things should have quietened down somewhat.
To gain clarity, you need to find out what your priorities are. Sit down and ask yourself a few fundamental questions:
- What’s the most important thing in my life?
- Next: What’s urgent and unavoidable right now?
- What’s my passion?
Write down the answers and then eliminate everything else from your life. This can be hard to do, especially when there are other things you enjoy doing, but you have to be ruthless here: Cancel, leave, say no.
Too much to do? Get support
The most obvious and yet overlooked strategy for coping is to ask for help, so don’t be afraid to reach out for a friend or family member. You don’t have to do it all alone! If you can afford it, get paid help as well.
This is your life and you’re here to do what’s important to you. Be sure you make time to actually live.
“I don’t have the time and energy,” is the standard answer when I ask someone why they don’t focus on their passion more. It seems to be everybody’s story, including my own at times. It’s so common that we have stopped wondering about it.
Really, when you stop to think, it’s so ridiculous it borders on the insane: There’s something which lights you up, something you love so much it makes you forget time. And instead of making it the centre of your life, you slave away at a job, look after everyone else before thinking of yourself, and buy things you don’t need. After all, everyone else does the same thing, right? It’s just how our world works!
Well, no. Just because something is common, or accepted by a majority of people, it’s not necessarily the only way. Breaking out simply requires a bit of out-of-the-box thinking and the willingness to be seen as, well, “weird” by some of your contemporaries.
But time isn’t even the only issue; having the energy and headspace is almost as important. Almost everyone I start working with as a Coach, tells me that they’re so tired after a day in the office, or doing housework and chauffeuring the kids, they can’t possibly contemplate pursuing a passion.
In the following, I’ll give you strategies to tackle both issues. Implemented consistently, they’ll create a dramatic shift towards a life you’ll love every minute of.
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Time and energy crisis
Have you noticed how everyone seems to be tired all the time? It’s an issue of epidemic proportions. This can make it additionally difficult to find the time and energy for your passion. In order to tackle it, you need to address both the physical and the mental aspects of tiredness. I suggest you consider the following steps.
- It seems obvious, but ask yourself if you’re getting enough sleep. You may enjoy you late-night Netflix sessions, but wouldn’t you enjoy more having the energy to do what truly lights you up? Aim for at least 7-8 hours a night.
- Try and establish a regular sleeping routine for a few weeks. In other words, always sleep at the same time and get up at the same time, even at weekends.
- Take naps if you can. Anything between 10 and 40 minutes is refreshing.
- Get off the computer and off your phone for at least two hours before bedtime. Don’t watch TV either. Read, write, have a conversation with your loved one or meditate.
- If you have trouble falling asleep, try taking a warm foot bath before bed. Four or five inches (10-12cm) of warm water in your bath tub are enough. Soak your feet and ankles for a few minutes and then go to bed immediately.
- Establish a ritual of transition from your workplace (or time with your kids) to your home or free time. It can be something simple, like having a cup of tea or meditating for 10 minutes. Done regularly, this will help you leave the rest of your day behind and “arrive” in your own mind space.
- Ever been almost too tired to go to a party, and then you met someone interesting there and found yourself chatting half the night? That’s because energy follows engagement. If you’re “into” something, you’ll automatically feel energetic. Use this insight by scheduling small periods of pursuing your passion. 20 minutes will do for a start. Let this inspire and fuel you.
- Move. I can’t stress this enough. Actually, you could combine movement with your transition ritual suggested above: Take a walk after work, or if the weather is bad, dance to your favourite song or do 10 minutes of yoga at home. It can be the hardest thing to kick yourself to doing this, but I guarantee you’ll feel more energetic afterwards.
What’s your investment?
The main difference between succeding at change versus slipping back into normal mode, is your investment. I don’t necessarily mean money, although it does help (one of the reasons Coaching is so successful is that once you’ve forked over the cash, you’re more likely to stick with it). You can invest in coaching, training or professional equipment. But time and energy are just as important.
Determinedly freeing up time shows your commitment. It’s why I’m always on about prioritising passion! It’s not enough to make some time on a Friday evening; if you’re serious about being joyful, do it first thing on a Monday morning. Work the rest of your life around your passion – yes, it’s possible, I see it again and again with my clients – and watch how you suddenly, magically have time for everything.
Commit to it, schedule it, and stick with it. Life’s too short not to do what lights you up.