When you want to, but don’t have time for …

Punishing all stationary and books for their idleness, a backpack violently shook. Flapping side to side, the nametag on the bag was practically illegible for onlookers. On any other Tuesday, anyone with enough interest and average eyesight could make out “SASHA” — faded words marking ownership. Not that her name mattered; everyone at the scene did not need to know her name to empathize with her. As students, they understood from firsthand experience what was happening. They observed as the unyielding girl flew through chilly air, through the welcoming call of doughnuts and coffee from a nearby café that usually goes answered. The pleasant smell did not even register for Sasha, nor did her aching feet, burning lungs, and frosted nose. She just didn’t have the time for anything, except being on time for class.

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What an interesting phrase: “I didn’t have time for ______.” Besides using it when we’re simply not interested in something, we also use the phrase when we fall behind on something we actually intended to do, like hitting the gym, sending that one email, or calling family. Sometimes we forget. Sometimes we remember, but we can’t do it at that moment or are too lazy. Sometimes we get caught up with things that were more important at the time. No matter what we say, isn’t the situation always the latter? That there were more important things at the time, that what we meant to do was unimportant then? If it were truly important at the time, why did other things receive our attention?

By “not having time” for something on a given day, we’re essentially suggesting that it’s not a high priority because each moment of the day is a time that is spent on something else. Not having time for something isn’t good or bad per se. It’s just a choice we make about how to use one of our most valued resources. There were so many things I could have done today, but I didn’t have the time to read the instruction manual for my T.V., take a luxurious bath, or get ahead on my reading goals. In order words, I chose to prioritize other things with the understanding that there are many possible outcomes of my actions/inactions.

Identifying what you DO and DON’T have time for can reveal your priorities and if you’re in harmony with them. If you intended to do something only to find yourself being too busy or not having time for it, list the top outcomes (how it would be beneficial or harmful) and why you couldn’t make time for it. Consider what the other things were that you made the time for — these are your priorities that outcompeted your intention. The question to ask yourself is whether those priorities deserved your time (more than your intention) and resulted in better outcomes.

PJ

The Founder

timestylepro@gmail.com

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Aligning New Year’s Resolutions with your “Becoming Story”

Successful resolutions start and end with your story.

Who is not born into a world of stories? Before birth, we hear mostly incomprehensible stories as sound — patterns of vocalizations, hums of machines, maybe filtered tunes of music. Throughout childhood, we are told stories before we can read them. We create our own stories out of fantasy, and we don’t always outgrow them. We make stories out of our reality and share them with others, sprinkled with occasional exaggerations and interesting tidbits, because those are the kind of stories we enjoy. Emotions bleed into our stories: the anger we feel towards that one unfair circumstance, the joy of traveling abroad or being rewarded for our work, annoyance at the long line the other day. An extension of our unique experiences and mental states that are transformed into a shared expression, our stories become an integral part of us.

I would like to share a story with you that sets up a reflection exercise: creating your becoming story to enhance any resolutions or goals you may have for 2017.

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An almost inaudible creak broke the silence as a hand reached out for a weathered, plastic-bound cover. Finding their target, determined fingers grasped the book. Another creak, signifying the return of the body to the comfortable papasan chair, and there was, once again, silence. Eyes restlessly scanning through the pages detected written thoughts of the past — thoughts that were important enough that they were made more permanent than the transient impressions in the mind that they once were. These were familiar thoughts, which came as no revelation because the mind that was reading was, a few years ago, the same mind that had produced those thoughts.

This was not an ordinary book. Littered with relatively recent dates, haphazard sentence constructions, spelling errors, and general nonsense for anyone other than the current reader, this was a special book of history… a personal storybook containing contents that were meant only for the writer.

A phrase stood out on one page: “becoming better.” There was a time when the author had a desire to become a better person. But what does that mean? Though it’s different for each person, difficult to measure, and likely changes even for the same person, becoming better meant (for this author) not being hijacked by emotions — anger, sadness, stress — all the time, doing well at school and work, and being more healthy and fit. Goals were made, books were read, homework was done.

Page-flipping to the future revealed everything was accomplished. Here was a man who:

  • Had more patience with himself and the world. Check!
  • Graduated with a strong GPA from a reputable college and had worked in academia, the government, and industry. Double check!
  • Developed good eating habits and made exercising frequently a habit. Check again!

What did this calmer, more experienced, healthier man write down during his reflection?

pen-resized

… his desire to be a better person.

He wanted to be more comfortable with and less negatively influenced by emotions, contribute meaningfully to work, achieve good grades in graduate school, and be more healthy and fit. Of course, there were other things — reading more, earning more money, being more kind, contributing more to society. Unless we are completely content with everything, there are always things we want to have, to do, to be. Once we fail or succeed, there are, once again, things. They might be the same things, in different amounts or frequencies, or different things.

Seconds marched onwards, but the author’s mind was frozen in time, engrossed in his past entries and contemplating… “Have I become a better person?” was all that was needed to inadvertently start a mental debate. “Yes! No! Maybe…” From the uncertainty rose an uncomfortable sensation. Changing to a more comfortable position in the chair did nothing to ease it. Neither did the author’s realization there is no end to his journey of becoming a better person; as he improved by the day, month, year, there were still ways to be better. “What fun,” he thought, half-seriously and half-sarcastically. The uncomfortableness finally passed with moaning of the chair — creeeak — when the book was returned to its proper place and a feeling of calm invaded the author’s mind: “that’s just life, I guess.”

The man you’ve read about is me. Have I become a better person? Yes and no. I’m better than before, but not better than who I can be in the future. The person I am now is simply different — better at some things, worse at other things. Now that you’ve read my story, I invite you to reflect on your story!

Creating the story of who you are becoming

January is often a time of reflection and resolution, but many resolutions fail within several weeks! This is no surprise if a resolution is vague, unrealistic, impersonal, and all-or-nothing, when even a single, likely inevitable, failure overshadows all of the initial motivation and successes along the way. This is where your “becoming story” can help because it highlights what’s personally important to you now, as well as how you can achieve your goal in different, specific, and (hopefully) flexible ways.

Locate your personal storybook, then contemplate, as you read through your entries, “what’s the story in this?” and “who am I becoming?” You might think you already know yourself or that you don’t need this exercise, and maybe you’d be right. However, the more time you spend reading and thinking about yourself at different time points, the more you’ll re-discover and be able to piece together details into a story of you. If you are completely lost or don’t own a journal/diary, that’s ok — just follow the steps below with your favorite pencil and some paper:

  1. What does becoming better mean for YOU? Is it losing 10 pounds? Raising your grades? Being a more supportive parent, lover, or friend?
  2. Transform your top answer into things you can have, do, and be to help you become better (bonus points for being more specific). For example, becoming fit by having a workout buddy (to lift with at the gym), doing a 7-minute mile (by training 3x a week on the track), and being more forgiving (if there’s a slip up or extra recovery periods are needed).
  3. Using the template below, create your story:

    My name is _______, and I am becoming _______ by:
    having _______ (to / with the help of / etc…  ___________ ),
    doing _______ (at the end of / within / etc… ________ ) ,
    and being ________ (even if / by / etc… ________ ).

Having a half-baked resolution is setting yourself up for either self-directed resentment following failure or unfulfillment following “success.” Instead, enjoy a fully cooked resolution by periodically re-visiting and re-evaluating it, considering how it is aligned with the story of who you are becoming.

Thanks for reading!

PJ
The Founder
timestylepro@gmail.com

Welcome to Timestyle Pro

This is a place where experiences or knowledge will be shared. Initially, it will be limited to my experiences, but that may change later. Even the purpose of this blog may change. No promises about what exactly will go here or how often it will be updated.

As excited as I am to begin, I have a few things to say first:

  • If there’s something you disagree with, speak your mind. We’re here to learn from each other.
  • If you are offended by anything, I apologize.
  • If you email me and don’t receive a response from me, I’m sorry that I personally didn’t respond. If you do hear from me, I’m sorry I didn’t have an elite representative get back to you sooner.

Stay tuned for the first real post for a taste of my thoughts. If there’s something you’d like to share with the world — a story, quote, piece of advice, question, etc…, then email it to timestylepro@gmail.com with your name and a creative, personal title. You could be included in a post as a contributor or author!

I hope you find something useful here.

PJ

The Founder

timestylepro@gmail.com