“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four-hour days."
-- Zig Ziglar
Have you ever caught yourself wishing for more time? "I would love to do _______ if I had more time." In our busy world of doing more and acquiring more, this is our life mantra. The trouble is that it's faulty; we make time for what's important.
Maybe you're thinking, "Well, that's just not true because I really would love to do _______, but I can't fit it into my already packed schedule," but this means that as much as you would love to do this or that, you've still ascribed more value to something else you use your time for instead.
If you wish you had time to play a game with your kids but instead spend the day mowing the grass, you've ascribed more value to cutting the grass than playing with your children. That may sound harsh, but it's the reality. We make time for what's important to us.
Meaningful Versus Fearful
There is a big difference between what's important and what's meaningful. Mowing the lawn is important, but it may not be meaningful to you, and because we're on a journey of taking back our time to give it to what is truly meaningful, we must understand the root of our choices. If spending time with your kids is more meaningful than mowing the lawn, why would we ascribe more value to the grass than the kids?
If you don't mow the lawn, it will get long. If it gets long, it looks unkempt. If it looks unkempt, the neighbors will start to think that you're lazy. If the neighbors think you're lazy, they won't like you. Is the good opinion of the neighbors more meaningful than building healthy relationships with your kids?
This is only an example, so please don't think I'm telling you never to mow your grass. Still, I am telling you that the key to taking back your time is understanding what is meaningful for you in this season of life and opening yourself up to the possibilities of what embracing that could look like. For example, maybe, instead of sacrificing your time with your kids to mow the grass, you hire someone to mow the lawn for you, or you find time to mow the lawn when you can't be with your kids.
However, this can be an uncomfortable process. "Our natural inclination is to put limits on our possibilities in order to stay safe. In a primitive sense, it is self-preservation. Remaining within the boundaries of what you know feels secure. Outside those boundaries is the uncertainty of the unknown. And even when the vision is something we truly want, uncertainty provokes fear. Fear demands that we shrink: make the dream smaller, and life will feel safer. Less change, less fear. But limiting yourself to only what feels comfortable can be self-sabotage."
"Clarity of vision creates clarity of priorities." -- John C Maxwell
It Starts with Vision
"The art of choosing the meaningful is the art of creating a life in which you are fully present and able to use your time in ways that make your life more authentic and joyful, purposeful and satisfying." What is that you want for your life? What is meaningful for you in this season of life? How would you spend your time in an ideal world?
Whatever this looks like for you, and it will look different for everyone, create a vivid picture of the possibilities and how they could shape your life if you allow them to. This is what creating a vision for your life looks like.
It means having to say "no" to the things that do not align with your vision and be prepared for this to trigger your fears. Still, if your vision is clearly defined and embraces what is truly meaningful for you, you can move through the tunnel to the light on the other side, saying "yes" to only what helps build that vision.
"In order to move toward the meaningful, we must clarify what is not as meaningful and be willing to give it up."
Habits Carry Vision
To manage our time and give it only to those things that propel us toward fulfilling our vision, we need to learn to manage our habits. Whether you are prone to procrastination or perfectionism, getting easily distracted or trying to please everyone, borrowing time from something else, neglecting to ask for help, or something else entirely, consider how these habits hinder your vision.
"Major transformation in how we spend our time begins when we notice what's not working and are open to shifting our lives to respond to our needs and the needs of those we love. It continues when we are willing to reimagine the possibilities. When the way we spend our time feels chaotic and burdensome, it is a sing. Your job is to pay attention. You don't have to have all the answers right now, but if you get quiet and listen, they'll start to come to you. Fear will likely accompany them; expect it, but keep imagining. Change is possible."
This week, consider the following questions:
What would you like your life to look like so you can be more authentic, joyful, purposeful, and satisfied?
What indicators can you use as a guardrail to know you are choosing what is meaningful instead of going over the edge of urgent?
What fears threaten to keep you from embracing your vision?