We’ve all had that conversation, “Oh I’d love to write a book, but I just don’t have the time”. Perhaps you’re one of those people who spout these same words every year. I know I am.
Not having time, I’m told, is also the reason why people don’t see their best friend from school, start the interior design business they’ve been talking about for years, write the horror fiction they’ve always longed to write, learn to play the ukulele, learn to speak Chinese or one of the many other things we resolve to do in the New Year. Not having enough time is responsible for an awful lot of non-starting enterprises.
‘Don’t have time’ = ‘It’s not important enough to make time’
But this excuse really doesn’t cut it. I know from personal experience that what people mean when they say they ‘don’t have time’ is that it’s not important enough for them to give up something else to make time for it.
I would like to write a book, and every January I tell myself that this will be the year I write it. But when it comes down to it, the thought of sitting at my desk scribbling away into the late evening, at something that takes enormous mental energy, when I could be cosy on the sofa with a green tea and re-runs of Poldark, is not something that I relish.
What is ironic is that so many of us spend hours on Facebook, connecting to and ‘liking’ stupid cat memes (which I must admit, are hilarious, but still I could be using my time more productively) and updating our feeds for ‘friends’ who aren’t all that important. Yet we don’t have time for the people or projects that matter.
Perhaps the reason we don’t see friends and family is down to the fact that we’re so busy trying to edit our online lives with updates and perfect pics so that it matches up to what we perceive others’ lives to be, that we don’t give priority to the real people who really know us and love us for who we are.
Or, is the reason we don’t start that business or write that book because we are scared that we will fail spectacularly, so we wonder what the point is of starting in the first place, as it will be too damaging to our ego.
Whatever our reason, we should stop kidding ourselves and own up to the real reason – we just don’t want it enough.
We all have those moments. The kind where everything in our life seems a bit shit and we feel hard-done-by. For some, those thoughts last a few moments, for others it lasts for weeks, or months. It’s not helped by Facebook either, where everyone else’s life seems so much more fun.
But what if I were to tell you that there are ways to help you get over it, ways that will help you to appreciate your life exactly as it is? All it takes is a moment of imagination, to create a scenario in which things are vastly different, worse than they are now – whether it’s a real memory or imagined.
Remember a worse time in your life
Last year I was in a job I hated. Actually, it wasn’t the job that was insufferable, it was the company and their treatment of staff. It was the behavior of one individual in particular, that ground me down in the end.
That was a period in my life where I struggled to get up in the morning. Every day created an internal conflict for me – should I stay, tolerate the intolerable person and hope that sometime in the future I would end up in a position I’d enjoy, in another department? or should I give up, leave and return to freelancing. Eventually, I could stand the job no longer and I quit. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.
So now I’m back to freelancing, and without a doubt things are looking up. I’m earning the same salary as I was when employed, but I’m no longer glued to a desk for the majority of the day, I no longer have to ask to go for a pee (slight exaggeration there but after many years’ freelancing being employed definitely felt constraining) or speed home from my place of employment to avoid being the last parent in the playground to collect her children.
So, whenever I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed due to too much work, or underwhelmed due to too little work (the ebb and flow of freelancing!) or I’m simply having a shite day, I think back to last year when I’d go to work feeling anxious, I’d come home in the afternoon feeling anxious and didn’t sleep properly at night due to feeling anxious. And when I think back to that time, I thank my lucky stars that I had the courage to leave that awful place, and it immediately makes me appreciate my life as it is now – shit days and all.
Imagine life without your spouse/lover/children
There are days when my two boys massively get on my nerves, I won’t lie. And even though I love them to bits, at times I wonder if I’m cut out to be a parent. But then I imagine life without them and immediately I am struck down by a horrible, almost physical wrenching pain in my gut, at the thought of not having them with me. It is an unbearable, unthinkable thought and it immediately makes me appreciate every ball-breaking, whining, moaning, fighting, stubborn, infuriating moment of them. To their surprise, at times like this, I cannot help but grab them and hug them tightly.
Imagine you had an accident
It seems a little morbid but imagine you were the victim in a horrific accident and were paralyzed from the neck down. Your whole life would change in that moment. No longer would you be able to feed yourself, bath yourself, go to the toilet by yourself. No longer would you be able to cook, clean, walk, run, play tennis, do the shopping, kick a ball around with your children, make love, work, write … I could go on but I think you get the picture.
Now doesn’t that make you think? What do you do to appreciate your life today?