Whenever we look to add something new into our world (specifically if it takes time), we have to decide what it is we are going to stop doing. So long as we stay on the planet, time is the one resource that that we all receive in equal amounts. How we utilize our time is where the distinction takes place.
Everybody is very busy these days; it is the nature of our lives. The truth is, everyone has been busy for many decades and many centuries. In the past, our time was just filled with doing different sorts of activities versus what fills our time now. We make different choices today about what fills our time than people made 100 years ago. Instant access, easy travel and over-night delivery makes it seem like we do more (and maybe we do get more accomplished), but it is still based on the same amount of time.
So as we consider creating a new habit or modifying a behavior, we have to also consider what we are going to stop doing to make time for this change. Even though it may appear that we can add something new to our activities, there was something that we used to do that utilized that time. If it wasn’t useful, productive or enjoyable, we may not even notice that it is gone. But for most behavior changes the time exchange is going to be noticeable, so we need to be intentional about it if we want to make time for change in our lives.
Many folks make changes in the “margins” of their lives (early morning, end of day or both). And although they are called margins (near the edges), it does not make them any less important or somehow easier to work within. Often making changes in the margins means making serious changes to our sleeping habits. For most people, changing a long established sleeping pattern is a difficult transition. But for some, it is the only “extra” time they have.
For others, like myself, there lots of bits of “wasted” time that if grouped together could easily become a significant chunk of time. Even so, breaking the habits that utilize the time in a less-than-productive manner is still a challenge. And then in some cases, shuffling schedules around to get the tiny bits to create a useful chunk can also be surprisingly difficult. This is when the answer to the question of “why” becomes critically important. If we haven’t answered all the questions as we defined our new behavior, then the motivation to change may not be apparent. And without sufficient motivation, very few of us are able to break established life patterns.
So if finding space, making time or transitioning activities seems nearly impossible to you, try answering the following questions to see what might be revealed.
- How much time/space do you REALLY need? Does it all have to be contiguous or can it be done in parts? Could you start utilizing a smaller amount and work up toward a larger amount?
- Is there an old habit that ties to the new behavior (either negatively or positively)? If so, consider that relationship and how that can be leveraged as you move into the future.
- What do you currently do that is “less valuable” than what you want to do? What would happen if you gave it up or did less of it?
- Is there a possibility of a cascade effect where one smaller change results in a larger effect in another area of your life? For example, if you become more productive can you work slightly fewer hours every week?
- Where would intimate observers (like close family) say there was availability for something new in your life? Often others can quickly see patterns in our lives that elude us completely.
Ultimately, the choice has to be yours. But if the benefit of your new habit is more valuable than the sacrifice and your expectation of investment of time are realistic each of us can make amazing changes in our lives and the world around us. It just takes time!
What is the most difficult aspect of making space for something new in your world?