You Have the Time

Holy freakin’ schmoley.

The holidays are over, the New Year is here, and we’re all revved up to make it the best, most tail-kicking year we’ve had yet.

And if you’re anything like me, you’re staring at your huge list of things you can’t wait to do/make/be this year, and you’re thinking:

How in the frack will I have time for all of this??

Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret:

You have the time.  Plenty of it.  You just aren’t using it right.

We Doth Protest

“But, Cordelia!” you say.  “You don’t understand!  I have a job, kids, errands, hobbies, 12 foster cats…I’m absolutely swamped!  I’m lucky if I have time to eat!”

Well, anonymous italicized commenter I’m imagining in my head, if that really is the case, then you need to trim something, stat.  I know ultra-frazzled busyness is a badge of honor today, but you have to at least be able to eat, sleep, and breathe on a semi-regular basis.  I mean it.  Delegate the errands, foster a few less felines, and learn to be kinder to yourself.  I’ll write you a fake doctor’s note if you’re the kind that won’t slow down until someone absolutely orders you to do it.

For the rest of you who do have time to eat (and accomplish a few other things), I repeat my original statement:

You have the time.

Whatever your dream is, whatever you oh-so-wish you could pursue but just don’t know how you’ll manage to squeeze it in, you’ve got time.  You’re just choosing to spend it somewhere else at the moment.

Don’t make that face at me.  I don’t like to think of getting rid of any of my “must dos” any more than you do.  But sometimes you have to.

It’s a matter of what you want more.

Priorities (& Casualties)

We each have 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week.  We also have certain non-negotiables that take up large chunks of that time, like eating, sleeping, working, and occasionally being sociable with other humans.

But we also have a thing called priorities.  And priorities, my chickadees, are what determine how all the other, negotiable time is spent.

I’ve been guilty of the “I just don’t have time” mentality myself, plenty of times.  I say I’d love to take up yoga, learn to cook, read those books I’ve always meant tobut I just don’t have the time.  I’m so busy juggling my day job, freelancing, blogging, writing an ebook…How on earth can I fit in anything extra?

But you know what?  I don’t really “have time” for freelancing, blogging, or writing an ebook, either—but I’ve made time for them.

How?  Largely by neglecting my household duties.

I let the dishes slide more often than I’d like to, in spite of previous resolutions to be better about that.  (I’ve become alarmingly o.k. with stirring my coffee with a knife and eating things straight out of the packaging).  I resist the urge to Swiffer every time a stray dog hair floats by along the floor.  In real crunch times, I’ll even resort to wearing inappropriately short clothes in the winter because I’m a week behind on my laundry.  (Anyone want to buy Cordelia a maid service (or more pants?))

Letting the chores slide might actually sound like a nice break, but my OCD clean-freakedness means that disorder feel like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.  I get antsy, I get irritable, I start mumbling as I walk through rooms.  But if it’s a matter of having a proper spoon to eat my cereal in the morning or getting a Brazen post in by deadline, guess what’s making the cut?  My discomfort will have to hang on a little while longer.  I’ll have to learn to be o.k. with not being able to do everything.

Simple Math

On the flip side, I could just as easily make the time to join a yoga class or teach myself to make meals that take longer than 5 minutes—but I haven’t.  I’ve said I want to for years now, but I haven’t done it, which means only one blatantly obvious thing:  I’m not too busy for these things; I clearly don’t really want to do them.

But I’d never look at a fantastic freelance opportunity and say, “Gee, I’d love to, but I just don’t have the time.”  I would find a way to carve out time, whether it meant sacrificing a few hours’ sleep or showing up to work in cap sleeves and capris in the middle of a snowstorm.  (That hasn’t happened yet, but don’t put it past me.)

We choose the things we make time for.  It’s a simple matter of addition and subtraction.  If you want A, but your schedule is packed, get rid of B, or C, or D.  That doesn’t mean you don’t want B or C or D.  Maybe you want them pretty damn bad, actually—but you want A even more.   Sacrifices have to be made.  Priorities have to be claimed.

It won’t necessarily make things “easier”; any mom who’s woken up at 5 a.m. to get an hour of writing in before her family wakes can tell you that priorities don’t necessarily make things easier.  They just make them possible.

And I firmly believe that we make our own possibilities.

If we want them badly enough.

So.  What are YOU choosing to make time for this year?

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  • I’m making time for yoga! I used the “I’m too busy with work” excuse for just about everything last year. It’s about time I re-prioritize and put my health and well being first.

    • Amen!  Health and well-being are necessary for the work to get done.  (Something I need to remind myself of too.)

  • Love this! It is so true…you have time. Another mantra for 2012. If we keep putting something off, it means we really don’t want it. 

    • I’m a huge fan of Gretchen Rubin’s “Happiness Project,” and one of her happiness “truths” is that you enjoy what you enjoy; doing something just because you feel you *ought* to enjoy it won’t make you truly happy.

      Our lives are short; don’t worry about what you feel you *should* do, and focus on what truly makes you shine!

  • The short of it? I’m making time for myself, my family, and my business. The long of it? I’m starting a project called Cultivate 2012 (http://blog.sailorscorpio.com/?p=1810). I’m incredibly proud of myself, and even if no one else joins me, I’ll still be cultivating myself and a life worth living. I’ll be cultivating a life in which I’m thriving.

    • Kudos to you for what sounds like an awesome project!  Just by striving to make things better, you and your life will be a million times improved (I speak from a year’s experience.)  😀  Best wishes to you and your fellow Cultivators!

  • Meredyth

    It’s like you’re in my brain, Cordelia. I just wrote a list of mantras in my journal last night that are in my brain as we begin a new calendar year, and one of them was. “Get rid of the excuse, ‘I don’t have time.’ You do have time. What do you want to do with it?”

    I’m making time for photography, journaling, reading and yoga.

    • It’s an excellent mantra, and those are excellent choices.  Here’s to a more intentional and happy-creating 2012 for both of us!  🙂

  • Pingback: Tips for Cultivating Healthy Habits in 2012 + First Night of Yoga Course Recap | Grad Meets World()

  • Princess Jones

    I have a blood feud with both Angelina Jolie and Kelly Ripa because I hate the way their lives are used to show the rest of us how much we’re NOT doing. (Not that either of them is aware of it.) I always say that we can have it “all” if we can shift our definition of “all” to include only the important things. 

    This year I’m making time for real vacations, which I haven’t taken in several years. Mostly, because I really, really love what I do but I’ve planned two non-working vacations this year and I refuse to use the excuse that I don’t have time for them. 

    • I love your definition of “having it all”–I’m definitely going to keep that in mind for my own mantras.

      If we had the amount of money/personal assistants that Angelina Jolie and Kelly Ripa had, I’m sure we could do a million times more also.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean we’d be happier.  As long as you know what your “important things” are, and you focus on those, you’ve got it good.

      Not that I wouldn’t still want to be Kelly Ripa.  Damn, that girl is cute!  😛

  • I so wish I could have been a part of it!  I’ll be following your progress with envy!

    I wanted to make it work, but unfortunately fell under the category of “things I also really, REALLY want to do but just can’t.”  It’s an awesome project and deserves people who can really devote themselves to it (and you have an awesome crew gathered!), and I’ll be watching you guys every step of the way!  I really applaud you for taking such a proactive, positive step–and I can’t wait to see what the “Circle of Trust” has in store for 2012!  🙂

    p.s.  In visiting your grand unveiling post, I happened to glance at your “popular posts” sidebar.  Holy schmoley, Steve!  The number of comments are amazing!  You’ve got yourself quite an audience to come along for this ride!

    • Steve

      I completely understand and am glad you’ll be dropping in from time to time. The “Circle of Trust” was intended to be a joke and a play on Meet The Parents, but nobody got the joke!

      Anyway, my community has definitely grown and I’m loving it! You’re not doing too shabby yourself either 🙂

      Now let’s go crush 2012!

  • i’m making time for myself!! mostly getting enough rest in-between. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

    • That’s an excellent priority.  You have to take care of you before you can take care of anything else!

  • GREAT advice here!  I had a writing teacher once who really made me think about this–and I know I’ve quoted her in some blog comment, so if it was here, apologies for repetition!  Anyway, she told us, “Every single other thing you let into your life will get in the way of your writing.”  And anyone can fill in their particular passion for “writing” of course.

    There’s a finite amount of time in the day, so it comes down to priorities when we decide what we’re going to fill it with.  It helps me to directly look at it that way.  When I’m thinking about letting a new hobby or interest into my life, I try to stop and think about whether it’s important enough to take time from my writing.  New friends?  Yes.  Video game?  No.

    Which doesn’t mean I don’t totally over-extend on the things I’m trying to do anyway, but at least I’m thinking about it.  🙂

    • Exactly!  We’ll never be perfect, but as long as we keep our priorities in mind and try to honor them, we’ll be o.k.

  • RubyB

    I’m in total agreement with you about not making New Year’s resolutions but being aware that we can make simple changes any day of the year. I have already spent more time this year doing embroidery (which I love, and hadn’t done regularly for ages).

    • Good for you!  That sounds like a wonderful, relaxing, and creative way to have some “you” time.  🙂