I used to believe that our most valuable resource is time. After all, it’s the one commodity no amount of money can buy. And the fact that no one knows just how much remains for each of us in our lifetime, makes it even more rare and valuable. But after years of coaching people of all ages, genders, and life circumstances, I believe there is something even more valuable than time alone.
Our Time Mindset.
Our Time Mindset is the mitochondria of time – the battery inside every unit of time that makes that minute, hour, and day powerful or wasted. As cells in our body can either be surviving or thriving, so can our time. There are two types of Time Mindset carried by two kinds of people, the Time Survivor and the Time Thriver. How do you identify which type you are? You can hear it in everyday language if you listen closely.
The Time Survivor will often be “getting through” life. Ask how her family is doing and you’ll hear, “Well, you know, it’s not easy having teenagers, but we’re getting through it.” Ask how her work is going and be prepared for, “Well, folks aren’t spending money and my boss is a jerk, but I’m getting through it.” The Time Survivor never has enough time, even if she is guaranteed to live a hundred years because her system of looking at life is based on the Contingency Myth. Every action she wants to take, or so she says, is contingent on some perfect future state. The Time Survivor hopes to spend time with her daughter after the very busy 1st quarter at work is over. She wishes to have a deep and meaningful conversation with her partner when they go on a trip this summer, and they are both relaxed and in a good place. She will invest in her own self-growth and development when she makes more money. I once heard someone very dear to me say he will take his dream trips, once his ship comes in – the Time Survivor is forever waiting for his ship to come in. Meanwhile, time passes and more often than not, the Time Survivor is left with the sad understanding that the season for taking action for a particular life goal has passed.
There is a different kind of person for whom time is also passing, but what she gets out of each unit of time is so much more. This person is a Time Thriver. Listen to her language and you will never hear her simply just get through anything. A Time Thriver is obsessed with what she can get from each moment and experience. It’s easy to look at the life of a Time Thriver from the outside and assume that somehow, life has dealt her a better hand. We call these people “lucky”, and believe they are blessed with more positive circumstances or better coping skills than the rest of us. In truth, every single one of us, regardless of our financial circumstances, is dealing with what Brooke Castillo calls, a “50/50 life”. All humans are dealing with a life that is at best, 50% good things, and more often, over 50% filled with health, money, and relationship challenges and heartaches. The Time Thriver looks at every circumstance in the face, and goes through a 4 step process:
- Slowing down and stepping back
- Creating some separation between herself and the situation
- Doing something calming, even if it’s just taking a few deep breaths
- Asking, “How can I use this?” and “Given these circumstances, what do I want to create?”
The Time Survivor doesn’t slow down to consciously create, but instead continuously and endlessly reacts to every life circumstance, all day long. Like a boat that’s forever being pushed around by ocean waves, the Time Survivor feels that her hours are spent defending herself from the next wave. Is it any wonder she has no energy? Listen to this kind of person and you will hear them say that they are regularly swamped, overwhelmed, and exhausted. They never have enough time because their mindset has them extracting minimal productivity, joy, and fulfillment from their existing hours. It’s the difference between a healthy gut receiving maximum nourishment and benefits from a meal, as opposed to an unhealthy gut which can only extract a fraction of those benefits from the exact same meal.
The good news is that data shows mindset is learned, and can be developed through dedicated practice. The first step is to become aware of who we are being. Are we using our time to thrive or survive? Becoming conscious of being a Time Survivor is terrific because it’s the actual true beginning of developing a new relationship with time, and creating sustainable change (which often does not happen by simply using new strategies and techniques). The rest of the work is far easier and falls in the world of practice, not personality.
If you’d like to learn more about the distinction between Practice and Personality, I encourage you to listen to my module Practice vs. Personality and let me know how the practice works for you.