Finding the time......
As life seems to get more and more hectic, particularly with the run up to Christmas, how do we find time to prioritise the things that really matter?
As we get older time seems to pass more quickly and before we know it, things we hoped for can pass us by in a flash. Have you ever stopped and assessed how you spend your time and if you’re using it in a way that is right for you?
So how do you do this? I claim to be no expert but I have read around this topic and put some thought into it. This has led me to change the way I spend my time and whether I say ‘yes’ to do certain events or activities as a result. It needs constant assessment, but I really believe that it can lead to a happier and more fulfilled life.
It starts with knowing yourself. What is it that you desire or have as a life goal? (What would your tombstone say about you?) For a lot of people their top desire is joy; it works better if it is a feeling. What is important is that you know what you are aiming for in life.
Once you know this you can start to make a list of the time which is spent achieving your desire. What activities or situations are you currently doing that make you feel joyous? Also, what activities repetitively don’t make you feel joyous? (Remember on occasion things may go wrong.) If an activity or situation is regularly making you unhappy consider why. Is it coming with burden or expectation which is causing anxiety and sleeplessness? The aim is to be busy but without burden or unrealistic expectation so that by the end of a day you feel tired but not exhausted; satisfied rather than anxious; fulfilled rather than guilty. You would be able to be happy with what’s achieved but realistic that there may be things left and OK with this. They will be achieved when the time is right.
Step 1 is to be aware of what can cause burden or anxiety to occur, leading to adrenal fatigue and burn out, which will lead to a feeling of permanent exhaustion, lack of creativity and a very chatty monkey brain.
1. Proving ‘myself’ – Be careful that you are not placing a burden on yourself to be like someone else or to achieve goals and dreams that are society’s rather than yours. Look deep within your heart and be truthful - will being a celebrity make you joyous? Do you really need to be a millionaire if your desire is joy? Is putting a high expectation to succeed going to get you to your goal or just stress you further?
2. Ensuring security (being rooted) – Do you need to own a house to be secure and rooted? Do you need to own the latest gadgets and tech? Consider what is critical to happiness and then be content. Trust your gut instinct and ignore society’s pressure and influence – don’t keep up with the Jones’s, it encourages competiveness and jealousy. At the same time feeling safe and secure is really important, try to find a balance.
3. Expectations of others – You don’t need to live up to anyone’s expectations particularly if they are unrealistic. You can only do your best, and if you truthfully know you are doing this, it is always enough.
4. The needs of others – You do not need to take on other people’s burdens and anxieties. Be careful what you say ‘yes’ to and don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ if you know it will not make you feel joyous or is not right for you. It is important to have boundaries. If you are feeling overwhelmed you need to focus on you. Start with yourself and if you are settled and happy you will be able to give out more kindness and have more time for others.
Being aware that you are burdened or burnt out is a sign that something is wrong and that you need to change something in your life so that you are not constantly in fight/flight or freeze mode putting adrenaline and cortisol into your body.
Step 2 - So what could you change if you are feeling like this?
1 Prioritise you – If you are constantly feeling exhausted find time to rest. It could be shutting yourself in the bathroom for 30 minutes and having a bath: booking yourself in for a massage or treatment: your yoga class: going for a drink with a friend: a walk or writing in a journal any thoughts or ideas. The important thing is that you enjoy it and that you prioritise it. Ask if you can leave work early and put your child into afterschool club for 30 minutes longer. Take leave if you have it. Prioritise you, you are worth it and you will be a more patient, nicer person for it.
2 Love yourself and place trust in yourself – This sounds a cliché but is really important. If you are struggling with this look at my previous blogs and try mantras and meditation to help calm the monkey chatter which is stopping you.
3 Assess your time – Are you using time for joy or distraction?
Here is an example of my personal joyous activities.
· Being in Nature
· Connecting with positive people
· Meal times (love my food)
· Community events
· Me time (yoga, massage, baths, reading, walking, cycling, journaling)
· Spending time with family
I also enjoy watching TV but only watch a maximum of one hour per night weekdays. You need to be careful with this as we have become a binge TV nation and this is escapism or distraction. It gives limited joy but mainly numbs reality so be careful with how much time you are spending on this or other screens or games. It can be a lazy option and will not replenish energy levels or reduce cortisol and adrenaline.
If you enjoy an activity like walking or cycling but don’t manage to spend much time on it, make a conscious effort to try and do more e.g. cycle to work once per week or walk to an activity. Don’t feel bad if it doesn’t work, keep trying.
The key is to know yourself, know what you want and not to compromise if it is really important to you. Put in positive boundaries to achieve the time you need for joyous activity and your life will become happier.