I’m sick of always doing things for everyone else, when is it my turn?
There’s not enough time for dating. I’m too busy to eat healthy food, it takes so long to prepare. I feel like I hardly get to spend time with my partner or kids because I’m always tired from rushing around. Work is so busy, I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere. I feel like I’m always playing catch-up. Fun? Relax? As soon as I sit down I fall asleep and don’t have energy for fun.
Is this what life is really all about?
Have you thought any of these thoughts? Time is our most valuable asset (we cannot save it or create more of it. It is finite) and yet so often I speak with people who feel like time is passing them by because they are rushing around so much, busy doing everything else. If only I had more time for me!
I used to rush from one thing to the next to the next, from home to work, from work to the gym, from the gym to buy groceries, from there back home to make dinner. After that it’s already time for bed. And then back to work again the next day. On the weekend’s, I would avoid being alone because when I was by myself I would notice that there were parts of my life that I wasn’t happy with. I didn’t have the relationship I wanted, I’d been single for so long I didn’t know if I could actually find someone I liked.
I wasn’t happy with my health and would eat to feel happy or distract myself from feeling sad or disappointed. Life was monotonous, which I didn’t like but at least it was something I knew. I didn’t know how to be still, to appreciate, to create genuine connections with other people and to value the limited time that I had. If I kept busy then I wouldn’t need to face that I was lonely, or sad or not fulfilled or not good enough.
The way that I started getting better at valuing my time wasn’t the way I thought it would be. I didn’t just stop everything and sit and contemplate my life. I started by wondering how it got to this. when I looked back it was like a series of little things that added up over time. The occasional chocolate, cookie or muffin ended up becoming the norm. The ‘go to’ with morning coffee then the mid afternoon ‘pick me up’ and the mindless eating while watching a movie or tv show in the evening. All of this in addition to my regular meals, before I knew it my health had spiralled and I was overweight.
What’s Your Excuse?
I noticed that I had a list of excuses why I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do, excuses why I wasn’t happy, excuses why I was behind in my work, excuses as to why I’d skip exercising. I started writing down what I wanted and then all the reasons I made up as to why I couldn’t / didn’t make the time. There were pages of reasons & excuses. All the excuses made sense. But using these excuses didn’t change the fact that I wasn’t getting any closer to what I wanted. In fact it felt like with every excuse I was further away).
What I believe now, is that our unconscious mind wants to get us what we want in life. Some of the top athletes use this theory. I’ve heard interviews where Michael Jordan talks about how he would create a clear picture of him achieving the result he wanted in a game, and he’d play this through in his head beforehand like a movie, over and over again.
Every time you have a thought, it creates a picture in your mind that represents the physical/external world. Have you ever thought of a particular car, maybe a red mini cooper (my favourite car!) and then you start seeing the same car everywhere. What if when you think of all the things you don’t want, your unconscious mind starts to look for what’s not working, what’s wrong, and bringing that into your reality? I started to notice that I was focussing on all the things that distracted me from what I wanted, that I was focussing on the wrong things.
It’s time to sit down and consider, what’s really going on?
I had a look at the excuses and reasons why I wasn’t where I wanted to be in life and started to wonder if I stopped making excuses, and came up with solutions instead, what would that look like. It wasn’t easy, in fact, it was really uncomfortable. I had to look at all the things that weren’t working and consider that maybe there was something I could do about it rather than blame everyone and everything else.
Then one weekend I was visiting a friend’s place for her son’s first birthday. At the party I watched him as he crawled around and then stopped and watched everyone around him and went from crawling to stretching his legs out supporting more of his body weight on them while his hands were still on the ground. Then he looked around and with a face full of concentration and focus he stood up, wobbled a little and took his first step. Everyone stopped and cheered.
Then he fell over and everyone with smiles on their faces encouraged him to get up and do it again. He did and this time took three steps before falling, he looked up and smiled at everyone, so proud of his efforts! In a moment I realised that I had been doing the opposite in life, I had been beating myself up for all that I was doing wrong, for all the mistakes I was making and for everything I felt was lacking. This was creating more of what I didn’t want and less of what I wanted.
When did I stop learning like kids do, when did I stop cheering myself forward, even if I fell over? The only mistakes are the ones we don’t learn from, right? As I arrived home after the party I sat down and started to make a list of things I wanted, and then added small, baby steps that would get me closer to them. And I started small. In the past I’d rushed in, and the changes hadn’t stuck. So I considered making small purposeful steps that were repeatable and that I could build on. Baby steps that I could celebrate and cheer for along the way.
Creating A Routine That Works
I created a morning routine that was achievable; get up, drink a glass of water, go for a 15 minute walk & listen to my favourite music and write down 3 things I wanted to achieve in the day. I noticed that the way I was thinking about work was different, I was looking to do the things that made the biggest difference (not the tasks that were easiest like I used to do). When I completed a task I’d smile and take a moment to congratulate myself and feel good about it, no matter the size of the task. By the end of the day I noticed that I had got more done, and felt much better and even looked forward to the next day. When I got home I wrote down my successes for the day, the things I’d learned, instead of flopping in front of the TV.
The change can be so small that you don’t recognise it immediately
After a week of being more responsible for my actions, emotions, activities and my thoughts, I felt so much better. I had some hope that things could change, maybe not immediately, but over time. And I noticed that I wasn’t rushing so much, because I was more clear about what I wanted and the baby steps to get there. I started to value my time more, value the time I spent with others and stopped doing a lot of the time wasting distracting things.
If you feel like you are rushing around and would like to spend more time doing more of the things that help you, consider finding an hour or two in a location that you love (beach, park, cafe, favourite chair etc) and write down what you would like in each area of life. I started with Health, Career, Family & Friends, Relationship, Fun.
Once you have written all you can think of, look over it and put a star next to 3 things in each area that would make the biggest impact. Then write the little things you can do on a regular basis to help achieve the things that have been starred. Little things like saving $10 a week from wages to put toward a holiday, putting aside 30 minutes a week of ‘me time’, going for a walk each day, eating a healthy meal once a day, drinking a glass of water at each meal, going for a date night once a week or spending quality time with your partner, dancing around the house to 3 songs.
Remember it’s the baby steps that we can celebrate and then notice that because we feel good about the little progressions, we feel more compelled to keep going. You may be surprised how quickly the little positive changes add up.