How you spend your time is how you spend your life. When a friend said this to me a few years ago, it changed the way I thought about my time. He said that we are all concerned with how we spend our money and think little about how we spend our time.
After this conversation, I went home and looked at my desk calendar to analyze how I was spending the bulk of my time. As a stay-at-home mother, most of my time was spent with my children. The other quarter was split between “friends” and self-care. I didn’t have conscious parameters around friendship back then, so my friends were mostly other mothers who lived nearby. Gym visits and nail/hair appointments filled the additional flexible hours. Some of it was necessary to maintain a healthy body, and some of it was filling the void.
As my children grew, I longed to create my corner of the universe. I had an arsenal of excuses about what was holding me back that sounded pretty legit. There is a great saying “you either have results, or you have excuses.”
Six months ago, a friend asked me about my daily schedule after I described my desire to get back into writing. She also shared the steps that she had taken to create a new career for herself as a screenwriter. Revisiting the “how you spend your time is how you spend your life” conversation woke me up. I was saying that I was desperate to create something new, but my schedule did not reflect the passion in my words. Words without actions are concepts; only actions produce results.
I committed to reworking my schedule, with writing as my primary focus. Writing first thing in the morning with a clear mind was more productive and satisfying than trying to write in between lunch and school pick up. Creating new habits takes two months of discipline, on average. Now, two-and-a-half months later, I can’t remember life before my current schedule. I am much happier with my time and desire aligned.
At a Tony Robbins event I recently attended, “Date With Destiny,” Tony repeatedly bellowed “Raise Your Standards! They are way too low! Its why you don’t have results in your life!”
Here is a Tony clip I love:
If you don’t have results in a targeted area, take a good look at your standards. Does your schedule reflect your alleged commitment to this area? Who are you spending your time with? What are the standards in your peer group/closest relationships? When I had more excuses than results in my life, part of the issue was the people with whom I was spending my time. Small talking that occupied hours each day amounted to internal emptiness. The idler I became in my mind, the lower the energy in my body. That’s a state that people label as depression. Productivity is all about personal power. From that old state, I didn’t have access to the drive or confidence required to step up my game.
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” Our relationships are imperative to our growth. Thriving people have thriving friends.
We always have control over the way we spend our time.
I understand now that the years I spent in advertising jobs complaining about my bosses were all a choice. The paychecks were good enough, and I was too lazy to look for a job with a kinder boss. We can’t choose the families we are born into, and as adults, we can create healthy boundaries if we have unhealthy relatives. When I hear friends say that they “should” do something, I feel their pain. A life of “shoulds” will never soar.
Look at the way you spend your time, and the people surrounding you. How many of them give you support and inspiration? Then look at your dreams and see how much time you allot to pursuing them. Do you have role models and strategies?
Even if you don’t want to make any changes yet, understanding that everything in your life is a choice is an empowering first step.