When was the last time someone asked you if you could do something that you felt you didn’t have time for? At the thought of adding yet another commitment to your plate, you can feel your anxiety and stress mounting, with burnout edging ever closer.
What was your response to their request?
Was it an immediate “I can’t,” “I don’t have time,” or “I’m too busy”? Or did you take a second to step back and assess?
Time is an interesting phenomenon. In the case of someone with a life-threatening illness who is gifted a few extra months or years to live, or someone who has defied death, time can feel boundless. In the case of someone who has taken on countless responsibilities within their family, company and community, time can feel all too scarce.
We all have the exact same amount of time in a day: 24 hours, 1440 minutes or 86,400 seconds. How then is it that some of us “have time” and others don’t?
The immediate response may be to point out all of your existing commitments…though backing things up, was each one of these not a choice at one point in time?
When you take the time to step back and take a big-picture view of your life (a 10,000-foot perspective), you begin to realize that drilled down or taken back in time, nearly everything in your life was/is a choice – the vocation you’ve created or job you work, the people you spend your days with, what you are contributing through your life, your children, your attitude, etc.
You have chosen how you are allocating and dedicating your 86,400 seconds a day. And each one of those seconds (and the milliseconds therein) is a choice – a choice of whether you make time for something AND of what and who you make time for.
Is the expression “I don’t have time” then ever really justified?
If you feel restricted or overwhelmed by requests for additional conversations, commitments or contributions, does that then not stem back to what you have chosen for yourself and your life? Would a more suited response be “I’ve chosen to dedicate my time to _____________ today”?
Next time someone asks you if you can find time for a conversation, a commitment or a favor, what will your response be? Consider these three options:
- Have time – To counter with a response of “having” or “not having” time is actually irrelevant – we all have the same amount of time. Try and catch yourself if and when you use this all-too-common saying. Consider the root of why you feel you don’t “have” time (i.e. your choices and current commitments – are they aligned with what you want to make time for?)
- Take time – To answer that you can or cannot “take” time is a limited perspective – one that feels as though you have to “take” from one activity or person to give to another. If you use this phrase, consider what you feel you have to take time away from or why your perspective of time is one of restricted nature. If the 24 hours in a day don’t feel long enough, perhaps you start making choices based on the minutes you have (all 1440 of them)?
- Make time – To consciously “make” time is an empowered perspective. It means that you are taking ownership and control of your time – choosing to dedicate a few minutes, hours or days to a particular person, event or cause because you believe in it and/or because it aligns fully with who you are, what you stand for and how you want to shape your life.
Time is really just about perspective – one that can either open up possibility or restrict our availability to others.
If you consider that the average life lasts just over 4000 weeks, you may feel very pressed for time OR, on the flip side, you may begin to value your choices in every week even more. Which perspective will you choose?
Time is both an opportunity to create the life we want to live, or to keep ourselves from it. If you choose to see time as a friend you’ve been gifted, it will always be on your side.
Cherish your time through conscious choice. In every moment, decide what and who you make time for, because when every choice is conscious, there is a sense of ownership and fulfillment that spills into our lives…and when we live this way, we can feel a sense of ease, even when there is a lot on our plates.
There will always be aspects of life that we don’t have full control over (other people, politics, etc), though there are countless facets that are fully within our grasp. There is so much of your life that you have the capacity to design and direct in each moment.
It all comes down to how you choose to dedicate your time.
And so, next time someone asks you if you can find time for them, will you “have it,” “take it,” or “make it”?
Will saying yes be time well spent (an investment in the life you want to create) or time wasted (a detraction from who you want to be, who you want to be with, where you want to be and what you want to be doing)?
Time is a gift that you’ve been given. The question isn’t really ever “do you have time?” but rather, “what will you make time for?”