I used to spend soooo much time freaking out about being productive and not having enough time. As a result, I was always anxious about my to do list, planned everything to a tee, and pretty much made myself miserable.
It took me years to wise up and figure out what I am about to share with you today. And it is simply this:
The biggest reason we stress about time is because most of us are living with a false sense of urgency.
Let me break it down for you. We live with the exaggerated belief that we HAVE to get things done by a certain time, or we HAVE to do all the things, or else something bad will happen. And I believe that the reason you either feel like you don't have enough time, feel pressured about deadlines, or feel guilty about not getting things done is simply because your belief system is distorted, and your endless suffering is, above all else, a product of your mind and conditioning.
Let's look at a few different ways this false sense of urgency shows up in our lives. Can you relate to any of these?
1. False sense of urgency: We think we need to get things done sooner than we really do. We think, if it doesn’t happen now or if it takes too long, we're fucked. This happens on a micro level (responding to emails or running errands) and a macro level (getting married, healing a health challenge)
Reality: The stakes are not as high as we think they are. This happens because we're in the thick of it, so our minds hyper focus on the thing in front of us. We lose perspective. But chances are that when you stop, remove yourself from the situation, and look at things from a helicopter view, you will find that the consequences are not as dire as you think. Even something that seems huge in many ways isn't the end of the world. For example, if you ask yourself, what's the worst that can happen, and the answer is-- I could lose my job. You can always reset yourself by figuring out what you could do to find another job or talk to your boss to manage the situation.
2. False sense of urgency: We put a deadline on things that there are no deadlines for! We think if we learn to meditate, develop better social skills, become more athletic, advance our careers--that eventually we'll hit some type of finish line. So we put pressure on ourselves to get there super fast.
Reality: There is NO SUCH THING as a deadline on human development. That shit is ongoing, whether you want it to be or not, so if you think you’re gonna get somewhere and be done and satisfied with that goal, you are sadly, sadly mistaken my friend. On the other hand, if you accept that this is a life long process, you can live a much calmer, cooler and collected life.
3. False sense of urgency: We think if we do things faster, it means we’ll be happier!
Reality: When you get to where you want to go, sure you’ll be happy momentarily. But then eventually you’ll adapt to that and you’ll start obsessing and craving the next thing. It’s never ending. Which is why you need to balance these beliefs with the understanding that joy isn’t in the attaining, but in the doing.
4. False sense of urgency: We think if we achieve things sooner and faster, it means we’ll be more successful.
Reality: Things happening sooner does not always equate to better. I have multiple friends who dropped out of college at 19, went back to college in their late 20's/early 30's and are now either working their dream jobs or well on their way, and they've thoroughly enjoyed their lives. They've lived life on their own terms and ended up in a BETTER place than they might have been had they rushed through everything in their 20's. Now they're equipped with a lot more life experience and they're successful not because of their positions in life, but because they've done what makes them happy (which is the true measure of success!) One of these friends is well on his way to being a doctor, and to him, it doesn't matter if he's a doctor at 28 or 48. In the end, does it really make that much of a difference?
5. False sense of urgency: We try and do too much. We create unrealistic plans OR plans that, when followed through with, run us into the ground. We think that if we can just fit in one more thing, we'll be more accomplished, more fulfilled. And worse, if we don't perform well, we stress and feel bad about ourselves.
Reality. The truth is, VERY LITTLE in life is as important as your brain makes it out to be in that moment. Wisdom and experience tell us that actually, 7 days from now, you're not going to give a shit about the thing you were SO eager to get done last week. There are only a few sacred things in life that are truly worthy of your urgent attention, and part of our work is to get clear on what those things are. In the mean time, you get may get a false sense of accomplishment from checking off one more thing from your to-do list, but you end up paying a price! The price is your sanity and sense of self worth when you're not "productive." And at some point you gotta stop and ask yourself-- what's more important to you?
6. False sense of urgency: We rely on this false sense of urgency to get shit done because time is a great motivator. We fear that if we don’t hurry and hustle, the opposite will happen-- that we’ll spiral out of control and muck everything up. So we create strict (often unrealistic) deadlines for ourselves that cause us rivers of misery.
Reality: Yes, urgency does have energized action behind it and it's an awesome tool for productivity. However, it also has a frantic aspect to it, driven by anxiety and fear. And one reason we cling to this is because we don’t trust ourselves enough to follow through without strict deadlines. So we set crazy goals and we start to feel like our life is one continuous deadline. The opposite of this is developing trust and self efficacy that you will get things done in the right time, and also create more realistic, relaxed deadlines that create a sense of excitement, not fear.
Ultimately what I am trying to say is this:
- It's OKAY for you to relax. Your world is not going to fall apart if you don't get XYZ done "on time"
- It's OKAY to slow down and take your time. Rushing and being efficient is not what's going to make you happy and successful
- It's OKAY if you're not exactly where you want to be right now. You're exactly where you need to be right now.
I am not saying you should be irresponsible or make excuses when you don't follow through with things. But the next time you're stressed out about time, I want you to stop and really get to the bottom of what you feel and identify your false beliefs. Ask yourself-- "Whats' the worst that could happen if this doesn't get done today?"
When you learn to spot false urgency, you will get better at not just managing your time, but your well being and quality of life, too. It's an incredibly powerful and liberating tool, and at the end of the day, that is really what I want for ya'll- to live a life feeling more happy and freee!! <3 <3 <3