Let’s start with a riddle……….
This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.
Anyone who considers themselves a lord of the rings nerd might identify this riddle as one that the creature Gollem proposed to Bilbo Baggins in the book ‘The Hobbit’. Can you guess the answer?? ………………… Time
Time is constantly considered to be in short supply. Working in my field, one of the greatest challenges I encounter is assisting people to overcome the barrier of ‘not enough time’. It is an interesting conundrum that with the greater advances we have seen in technology (presumably to make our lives easier) the busier we have all become. The dawning of the industrial revolution saw a dramatic change in the activity levels of the working class. We have gone from being a species that was previously paid to be active given the physical nature of our jobs. In current times the expectation for the majority of western society seems to be that we now have to pay to be active. Taking out memberships to gyms and clubs and buying fancy pieces of machinery advertised on the home shopping channels is common. There is the common understanding that we need to dedicate 30 minutes of our day to exercising as we often spend the remainder of it quite sedentary. This is something that many of us find very challenging!
How do we possibly find time for ourselves, to do what is required to look after our health and wellbeing, when we have so much else happening in our lives? Competing factors for our time include: looking after family, work, sleep, cooking, cleaning, drinking coffee, reading, painting, playing words with friends, watching the latest episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’, and the list goes on… I have a challenge for everyone. Make a list of all the things in your life that compete for your time, even the small things, and prioritise them in order of importance. What do you fill your week up with? Now, where do you sit in this list of priorities? Did you even list yourself at all?
Time is a fixed commodity. We can get no more or no less of it, and at least on this planet, time moves by at a set rate. So if we cannot acquire more time through bargaining with higher powers or other means that incorporate quantum physics, then our other option is to look at how we prioritise the time we do have. I am not going to get out my cheery white toothed smile and preach that ‘you’ must be at the top of your priority list and that nothing else can possibly rate above looking after yourself, but I am going to ask, ‘are you currently happy with where you place yourself on that list?’ I would love to see my clients prioritise their exercise at the top of their list and come to see me three times a week, however, I realistically understand that in the real world this is not always possible. For many of us there will often be priorities that we will rate above ourselves, such as caring for someone else, and it is not my job to change that. However, I want you to consider if you are happy with rating ‘checking facebook likes’ above ‘looking after your health’ and going for a short walk. If so, more power to you! but don’t be complaining that you have no time for yourself, to go for a walk, to prepare food, or take 10 deep breaths of fresh air.
Time is precious, it is limited, and as humans we have complex lives. My task for those who are struggling to find time to fit something that is important to them in, is to write this list and figure out exactly where your current priorities lie and where your time is spent. Ask yourself ‘Am I happy with this?’ and ‘Is there room for change in my time prioritisation?’ Where, given the opportunity would you want yourself to sit on your priority list? We are here to help you find ways to make this happen but often the realisation that change needs to and can happen has to come first.