If you want to learn to move forward in your life, learn to appreciate time first. Every second is a step forward. Time is your friend, not your enemy. Time shows you how to move on. You just do.
Tick tack, tick tack.
Think of time as a helping hand and not another stress factor. Time is working for you, not against you. When you receive a deadline to finish an assignment or client job, it is only stressful when the negotiated time was set too tight.
It is fine to have a challenging time but this defined amount of time needs to allow you to experience pleasure as well. If you consider time to be working against you repeatedly, time becomes a pain, a chronic pain.
Time stands for rhythm, focus and execution. Think of soldiers walking in march steps. Left, 2, 3, 4, left, 2, 3, 4. I was never in the army (and have no plans to kill people because a government tells me to do so), but the execution of marching is how you can consider time. Something that goes on independent of your influence and you can decide whether you want to join the march. Repeating the walking pattern you put yourself into a auto-motion (self-motion) that works similar to auto-suggestion.
It is the low-level basis of why habits work. You establish something by chaining to something you know (and do) and you repeat it every day on a defined time.
For example: You could create a marching habit because when you walk every day outside with your dog, you have an easy time chaining it to the new habit of marching. You just walk like a marching soldier. Do not worry about other people looking at you, and your dog would maybe like it.
Again, marching would stand for learning to appreciate time as something that works for you. But how to create a habit where time becomes your ally?
Shifting your perpective on time is a bit more tricky. Try this:
- Do what you usually do in the morning. What is it? I assume you have a coffee (or tea), eat a bread or cereals and go to work or start working at your home office. Everything before your work day starts is your morning routine.
- How long does your morning routine take you? 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 and half hours?
Observe your morning behavior first and make notes on what you do and how long it takes you. Do that for 3-4 weeks so you know that it is really your habit.
After the months is over, review and ask yourself:
- What was essential to my morning routine? What was less important and which part could I cut out?
- Was I missing something I would really like to do on a daily or weekly basis?
Write down the answers for yourself. This was only the preparation to shift your relation to time. Now you know how your essential morning routine looks like, how long it takes you and what you want to add to it because were lacking or missing it in the last 3-4 weeks.
The piece you missed doing you will now incorporate into your morning routine. Let’s say because of your review you found out you were lacking sports and identitified 15 spare minutes.
So, every night before the next morning, you put your sports clothes onto your chair, you get up the morning after, put your sports clothes on and spend 15 minutes doing sports, for example: jumping on a trampoline, stretching, yoga or running on the spot.
For the next 3-4 weeks this is what you will be doing every morning after you got out of bed. Your reward after the 15 minutes of sports is your breakfast. Trust me, your bread or cereals will taste even better with a warmed-up body. Also, 15 minutes sports can be long. So start gentle and then increase the intensity. In the beginning think of how a tortoise moves. Later, your work-out can become as quick and intense as the one of a shark. But one step after the other.
The psychology behind: You want to build a positive relation to time. Those 15 minutes of work-out will be hard in the beginning but they will make you feel super well after a month. You won’t want to miss it anymore. It will become just as natural as having breakfast.
Also, since you are chaining the new sports habit to what you have been doing already (getting out of bed), you have no excuse to not do it. Seeing your sports clothes and shoes prepared in front of your bed the only thing that could stop you is if you betrayed yourself and were dishonest with what you want.
You can betray yourself as much as you want. But it does come back to you since it will lower your self-esteem, how you look at yourself and how other people perceive you. Low self-esteem speaks its own language, and you do communicate your level of self-esteem because what you cannot do is not communicate.
Execution speaks the truth while words words can just air. If lie to yourself you have a much bigger problem to solve and creating a habit or positive relation to time would only be the second step.
You learned that you can build a positive connection to time by establishing a new habit (of something you were longing to do) and giving that new to be formed habit a specific amount of time. These 15 minutes of sports will become your new happy time and where you do it (for example your trampoline) your new happy place.
Happy January 1, 2017!
This was episode 12 of the #weekendpunchline 👊. Every Saturday and Sunday.
Also published on Medium.