May2017: When You Don’t Have Enough Time

by Brad on April 24, 2017

“A something in a summer’s noon, An azure depth, a wordless tune, Transcending ecstasy.” – Emily Dickenson

Do you ever (always?) feel rushed, stressed or overwhelmed, believing there’s never enough time to get things done? This idea is so common as to be epidemic: if we’re not insanely busy, there’s something wrong. We respond by blaming time for our struggle. Yet in doing so, we create an adversarial relationship, one that then forces us to manage time, a battle we often wage by futilely cramming more into the day. I believe we’ve misidentified the culprit. We have the same 24 hours each day as did Einstein, Mother Teresa or Gandhi. What’s limited is how much energy we have in a day. When we blame time, we make time a threat; if we focus on energy, we can make time an opportunity instead.

Time as Threat: When you see time only as the space to get things done, you tend to see time as linear, “all moments created equal.” Overloaded, what you then do with each moment, unaware, is either complain about the previous moment or worry about the next one. This kind of thinking creates the stress you know so well, but more significantly, it denies you experience of the present moment. And right now, the present, is the only place “experience” can happen.

Time as Opportunity: All moments are not created equal. In addition to length, each moment also has depth; and it is here, in the depth of each moment, where experience happens. Think back to a situation when you were so involved in creative genius, or in communion with life, love or nature, that time felt as if it stood still, yet your experience of it was full and rich. You miss this experience altogether when you’re using your energy to worry about what comes next. The question with big potential is, “how can I always live this depth of experience?” You may think it’s impossible. And so it is … if you’re putting your energy into managing time; for then there’s no energy left for the experience of it.

The Path Beyond: While you’re busy managing time, you probably don’t notice the causes of the issue you perceive you have with time. And if you don’t notice, you can’t take the action needed to change the script. Most of us lack:

  • intention – we don’t know – with depth and clarity – what matters most in life. If we don’t know (or believe in) what we want, we can’t use our [limited] energy to make it happen. Think of this as “intention deficit disorder.”
  • awareness – we don’t know what we truly do with our energy each day, so we unknowingly get sidetracked a lot.
  • courage – we’re too busy making other people’s lives work to care for our own.

When you gain extreme clarity on what really matters to you, and know where your energy truly goes, your intention and awareness together then become “a giant filter for the unnecessary,” which keeps your day from getting messed up by stuff that doesn’t matter. You will probably find there’s just no stopping you, because the sense of freedom you feel from choosing your own truth will create all the courage you need. By the way, Gandhi, Einstein and Mother Teresa stand out because they were so clear on what mattered that nothing could deter them. All they had was time.

Exercise: Reflect a moment. What is your deepest longing? Who is the “authentic you,” the you that you may not have recognized or admitted, either to yourself or to others? What would it mean to live your dreams? How might the world benefit from your unique wisdom? We rarely ask such big questions, probably because they invite more self-reflection and patience with our inner world than we’ve allowed ourselves to tolerate. (And because we don’t have enough time.) What is your intention? Make it big enough to carry you for a lifetime, and time will disappear for you, too.

Life lesson from nature: A millisecond is an eternity for some atomic particles; a million years, a flash in the pan for a river carving a canyon; a billion years, just another day in the universe. Nature’s plans have no time frames attached. Nature lives from a single intention – creative expression. Creativity is its own reward, rendering “time” meaningless.

Book of the month The Seat of the Soul, by Gary Zukav. Explore what matters most to you in life. Zukav offers a path to a shift in thinking, from a consciousness that sees power as living in the external world to one that derives authentic personal power (intention, awareness and courage) from within – inner values, soul and spirit. A classic book, in a 25th anniversary re-publication. Among the best books I know on discovering and honoring your authentic truth. And if you’re on Cape Cod, you’ll find this book at the Market Street Bookshop in Mashpee Commons; 508-539-6985.


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