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The Value of Time

With respect for the time that you may or may not have to be reading this blog, I am going to get straight to the point on this one. We are going to explore time. No not on a time machine or anything like that. Just the concept of time. More specifically, how the way that we spend our time and even how our perception of time affects our lives.

I think it is safe to say that most days, for most people (myself included), it feels like we don't have enough time to get all the things we want accomplished. Let's face it, we are busy, there are many demands in this dog-eat-dog world that we have come to live in, and it all perpetuates this feeling that time is just passing us by. We long to feel that time is on our side but is it?

I think it goes both ways, yes it is, and no it is not.

As I try to live in a more present-oriented state, with increased intention around the way that I spend my time, I find myself thinking about time quite a bit. I am especially contemplative of how the way I spend time adds or subtracts value to my life. I am learning to stop and think about the choices I make and the choices that I want to be making but haven’t made the time for yet.

Say, what?

I guess what I mean is that I have gotten to a point in my life where I feel I am getting better at assessing my priorities. The more present I am, the more I realize what really matters to me and with that, I am consciously trying to align my choices and behaviors to support my desired outcomes. I am attempting to utilize my time accordingly because as of now there still doesn't seem to be a magic fairy or pill to make all my dreams come true and or more time available.

I am learning to savor the time I get to spend with Leif because as everyone tells you the moment your child is born, "they grow so fast." Sometimes I don't always feel that present or patient, but as I see how seemingly quick he is growing, I am taking the extra snuggles and caring less about all the things that aren't getting done. I am building an awareness of things (even thoughts) that I give too much of my attention too. I am working on recognizing what does not add value to my life- Facebook- I am talking to you, the time wasted trolling your newsfeed must stop! One thing I am working on is waking up earlier so that I can have more time to myself. Time to do yoga and meditate, to write or read, or go for a walk. I know that allowing myself this time would cultivate greater presence each day and increase my vitality. I just have to choose to get out of my warm comfortable bed, we will just say this plan is a work in progress...

Working for many years as a health and fitness professional one of the most common things I heard from people was, "I would like to exercise more, but I just don't have any time" or "I want to eat healthier, but I can't fit it into my schedule." There are other variations of this. I am willing to guess you might even be able to think of a few that either you or someone else has said. I am not going to discredit this feeling or call it an excuse, but instead, I would like to question, is it a matter of not having the time or how we choose to spend our time?

I had a conversation with a friend recently, a very busy mother of two, who has been trying for quite a while to get back into an exercise routine. It has been hard for her to find the balance between her self-care, caring for her family and the demands of her job. She is feeling stretched thin. As she juggled her one year old and Leif tugged at my leg, she shared she has started having success with exercising and "cleaning up" her nutrition. I had to ask what had changed, and she said: "I am making time for myself." Let's be clear. It is by no means easy for her to do so with the demands of her life and she has to let go of the guilt that she feels around taking this time for herself. Ultimately she has been successful because of the value it adds to her life.

I wonder if you were to stop and look at how you spend your time:

Are there things you do that aren't adding any value to your life and perhaps even taking time away from things that would?

Are there commitments that you make because you are afraid of letting someone else down?

Additional questions I ponder in regards to this time quandary are:

Do we have to be so busy?

Do our jobs have to be so demanding?

Is part of this feeling that we lack time, self-imposed?

Do we end up with lots of demands on our time and energy because we create lifestyles that are too hard to maintain?

At a recent visit to the Soleil Salt Cave, I overheard two women talking (okay, I was eavesdropping). One of the women was explaining to her friend how run ragged she is by the demands of her job and her children's activities. She said something along the lines of "This is the only hour this week that I have for myself, I need it so desperately and I probably have a few more hours of work I have to do later." It was a Saturday afternoon... I felt concerned for her; she seemed run down, she looked burnt out. I acknowledge that I don't have all the details of her circumstances and I am in no way judging, but as far as I know, no law says our social calendars have to be overflowing with events that make it, so we have no time. Even on the weekends. Or that our kids have so many extracurricular activities that our heads feel like they are going to spin off trying to keep up with it all. Regarding having a job that runs you into the ground and it makes it difficult to find time for yourself, is this required? Again I lack details, but the scenario she described is similar to other people I know, and it makes me curious. Is it absolutely necessary for this woman (or anyone else) to submit to all these demands and have little to no time for herself???

During a coffee-talk, catch-up session with another dear friend of mine, we found ourselves discussing work-life balance. My friend said: "I always want to maintain my mindset of working to live, not living to work." What she meant is that she has made choices to live her life more simply so that she doesn't have to break her back working to support her lifestyle. She chooses enjoyable work that provides her with enough compensation to pay the bills, do what she enjoys most and not stress-out to live a life she can't maintain. In her words, she prefers a life full of "modest and memorable things, with people I love."

I guess in some sense, I feel that time is on our side, but it depends how we perceive time and how we spend it. Maybe it is a matter of simplifying, shifting priorities and saying no to things. Freeing up the time to do the things that add enjoyment and meaning to your life. Of course, the perceived value of time is personal and subjective. You have to determine for yourself how to best use your time and what the value is.

The things that add value to my life are those that provide more energy, health, love, joy, excitement, and purpose. Time is on our side when we live in the present. When we create moments to be still and take in the beauty all around us- when we allow ourselves to be undistracted and fully connected to those we love and the joy they bring us. When we stop telling ourselves that we don't have time to do what we need to do to be happy and healthy, time becomes available.

In contrast, I feel time is not on our side because there is no guarantee of how much time we have on this earth. We only get a finite amount of time in this life, which reminds me to be grateful for each day I am alive. To be thankful for the time that I have with those that I love. To respect the experiences that challenge me and remind me that I am growing.

Given the fact that time is uncertain, I am striving to focus on quality over quantity. In my opinion, It is not about how much time we have for any given thing. To me, it’s about slowing down and savoring all of the experiences of our lives.

Now, I will leave you to reflect…

What do you tell yourself you don’t have time for?

What do you make time for?

What adds value to your life?

What are you grateful for?

What is one thing that you could say no to that would create more time for you?