A mom once told me, “I don’t want to let my daughter down by canceling our plans together, so I find it’s just easier to not make plans with her.” Her statement was followed by a long pause of silence as we both felt the emotional pain that was created from her decision. Have you recently told someone, “I’m sorry, I just didn’t have the time.” Perhaps you said to your spouse there wasn’t enough time for a date night. Maybe you told your kids you couldn’t play with them. Or maybe you convinced yourself you didn’t have time for hobbies. The truth is that you do have time because you choose what to prioritize in your life.
Consider how you spend your time and what your values or priorities are. Next time you do not make time for something, tell youself “This wasn’t a priority for me” and sit with the feeling.
If you have ever claimed to not have time for something, I recommend changing your language. Look at yourself in the mirror next time and say “This just isn’t a priority for me right now.” Notice how that makes you feel. If you have trouble accepting that statement, then it’s time to make a change. The reality is that we make time for what we convince ourselves is important. When you start to understand time spent as a choice, it can help you feel empowered. You are deciding to watch Netflix work extra hours, or spend time with one person over another. Be honest with yourself. Why did you choose one option over the other? Knowing the answer to that question can make you aware of your core values in life and give you the power to decide how you want to spend your time.
I’m sure some people are reading this and thinking, “Wait a minute! I have bills to pay, and I have to work long hours!” Or perhaps you feel pressured to spend time with one group of people over another. In both cases you are still making a choice. You choose to have a certain lifestyle, live in a particular location, or have certain friends. When you accept that all of these are choices, it can help you feel less helpless or hopeless, and regain control of your life.
Here is a short exercise that can help identify your values and make time for them: Make a list of your core values in life. Examples might be fame, wealth, family, safety, creativity, or peace. There are lists online that can help. Identify your top 10, and then make a schedule of a typical week. Account for approximately every 30 minutes of your day. Write down if you were sleeping, eating, working, watching TV, playing games, spending time with family, or some other activity. Then compare the two lists. See if the time spent each week matches your core values. One reason people often feel anxiety or depression is they are not living in line with their values. Becoming aware of these patterns is an excellent step to making positive changes.
If you need help creating harmony between your values and the way you live your life, please use the link below to contact me. We all make decisions every day that reflect what priorities we have in life. It’s time that those decisions are made clear and bring us to a state of peace and fulfillment.