Whenever I speak to clients, friends and other women about their goals and dreams, they often tell me: “I could not find the time” or “there is not enough time in the day to do everything I want”.
What this really means is: “I feel I need to do too many things in the time I have available” or “my goals are not that important to me”.
Time is a convenient scapegoat. A lot of us are ‘at effect’, meaning we prefer to put the blame for our choices and decision outside of us, on other people or even innocent concepts such as ‘time’. If we took responsibility for our choices and actions we would be ‘at cause’, that is we take responsibility for whatever happens to us. If there is not enough time, it was our choice to prioritise other things over our goals. For a lot of women this will sound harsh, especially those among us who are already stressed out, battling to reduce their massive to do list by even 10 % or fire fighting between a multitude of conflicting priorities.
However, using the ‘never having enough time’ excuse to justify not achieving what we most want, leaves most women frustrated, stressed and/or feeling like they failed somewhere along the line. Over weeks, months and years, this can lead to erosion of self-esteem and confidence, chronic dissatisfaction and ill health. So what can you do about it? The first step is awareness!
Where do you feel time is controlling you? Use the next week to listen to yourself and write down the times you blame time for not achieving what you want, for not doing the things you wanted to do and feeling stressed. Also, write down the things you do do during that week; if you can, write down a detailed daily diary of how you spend your time.
Look at this list at the end of the week and see if there are any patterns emerging. Is it a particular area of your life that always gets neglected, a particular set of goals or activities that is always down prioritised or a particular group of people who are given less time that you wished?
What is important to you? The next step is all about being clear about ‘what is important to you’, your values and guiding principles in life. In order to successfully prioritise we need critieria to prioritise against. Our values are those criteria. Knowing these will help you to make decisions much quicker and enable you to say ‘no’ to things that do not match your priorities.
I invite you to make an appointment with yourself for at least 30 minutes and if you can 1 hour, and reflect on the following questions:
- What is important to me?
- What do I value?
- What motivates me? What am I passionate about?
- What makes me really happy?
You can either focus on a particular area of your life (e.g. work, family or relationships) or on your whole life. You will end up with a list of words and phrases that reflect your values (what is important to you). Review this list and then without thinking about it, quickly put the list of values into an order of priority starting with what is most important to you and ending with what is least important. When you do this you might like to ask yourself the question: “What from this list can I not live without?”
Re-aligning where you spend you time – Once you have your prioritised values list of what is important to you, check your daily diary and your ‘not progressed/not achieved’ list against your values and ask yourself:
- Which activities that do not match my values am I now saying ‘no’ to?
- Which activities that match my values am I now giving priority to?
I know it can be hard to do this exercise when time seems in short supply. It will pay you dividends to take this first step and take control of your time. Don’t let time control you!
- Living in Congruence with your Personal Values by Mariana Ashley (dragonintuitive.com)
- The Heart of Values (Values: Part I) (gatehouse13.wordpress.com)
- How To Prioritise Quickly And Intuitively | All About Agile (allaboutagile.com)