time for priorities

I don’t have time.”

This is the universal excuse for just about everything in life.  If you listen, you’ll probably hear these words uttered at least once a day, maybe even from your own lips.

When I hear myself say, “I just don’t have time”, there is a quote that always comes to mind:

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”  (H. Jackson Brown)

While this usually makes me feel a little guilty, it’s also empowering.  Because, it means that a lack of time isn’t necessarily the issue.  Rather, I CHOOSE to make something else a priority.  That can be a difficult truth to face, but also a liberating one.  We always have the power to make a different choice.

Whether it’s incorporating a workout routine, writing that novel, or cleaning out the garage, the reason we don’t accomplish these tasks is because we choose NOT to make them a priority in our lives.  Plain and simple.

In many ways, it’s easier to rationalize we “don’t have time” because it’s external – it puts the responsibility outside of ourselves – while in actuality, we make conscious choices, minute-by-minute, about how we spend the hours in our day.

We choose to nap.  We choose to watch TV.  We choose to stay out later than planned.  We choose to browse Facebook.   Then, when we reach the end of the week and realize we haven’t made a dent in cleaning the garage, we choose to forget that we actually CHOSE to spend time watching the “Law and Order” marathon (and yes, I’m speaking from experience).

The point is not to engender guilt – who doesn’t love a Sunday afternoon nap – but rather, to generate empowerment.  We always have a choice of how we spend our most precious asset – our time.

While there are occasional situations in our lives that are unexpectedly chaotic and limit our choices, these tend to be the exceptions vs. the rule.  We can convince ourselves that the new work project can’t wait or that we must volunteer at the school pancake breakfast.  However, we then also need to recognize that WE are choosing to make these items a priority.

And, just declaring it out loud can have a dramatic impact. “I’m choosing to miss my Pilates class tonight to re-do this proposal.”  When we proactively take responsibility for our choices, we shift from a “have to” mindset to an “I choose” mindset, which feels empowering and immediately alters our energy.

It just may be that finishing the proposal is what you decide is the best use of your time.  Acknowledging this can actually reduce the angst you feel over missing your workout.

There are only 24 hours in a day for everyone.  The way we choose to fill them is essentially up to us.  We choose what is our priority.

The next time you start to say “I don’t have time for…”, empower yourself by saying instead, “This is not a priority.”  You may just power down the laptop and head to the gym.  Or, you may curl up on the couch and take a nap.  Either way, it will be your choice.

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