Try this: Imagine who you would be if you didn’t worry about time. How might your life be different? I surveyed fifty-two people, and the results revealed that 90 percent felt “somewhat anxious” to “significantly anxious” about time. What’s even more startling is that these results don’t even seem all that surprising. Anxiety about time is very much a part of most of our lives. Think back to a time when you greeted a casual acquaintance and asked how he was, and he said, “Great! Things are fantastic!”
It can be almost jarring when someone responds so positively. Somehow we’re more conditioned to expect to hear people complain that they are tired, or sigh that they are busy.
It’s helpful to dig deeply to figure out what is at the root of our problems with time. Why do we overschedule ourselves? Why do we want to be so busy? Why are we so consumed with time? Why does it seem so “normal” to worry about time so much? Why is it easier to be caught up in a drama about time than it is to be released from it?
In short, what is the payoff for worrying about time?
When I examine this question myself, I can recognize that the more I complain about time, the more I block my ability to accept and express love and connection. Violette Clark shared, “I suppose not having enough time, or the illusion of believing this, makes us feel important. I also realize it keeps me safe. There have been a lot of dreams that I’ve accomplished, including publishing a book, but there have been a lot of balls that I’ve dropped, too, in the name of ‘not having enough time.’ Putting myself out there more fully means more potential for rejection. Sometimes not ‘going for my dreams’ is safer.”
Similarly, artist Peggy Lynn boldly admitted that time complaints are related to ego: “The ‘I’m too busy’ implication does stroke the ego: ‘Oh, look at me — busy, busy, busy!’” A workshop participant shared that her worries about time give her an excuse and an outside source for not following her dreams. She said, “I’ve never been someone who likes to blame, but now I suddenly realize that I’ve actually been blaming time. I don’t have enough time, and so that’s why I don’t go after this dream, or that’s why I haven’t tried this or followed up on that. Then it’s not my fault. This was a big discovery for me!”
Here are some examples of payoffs that people might receive from worrying or complaining about time.
- Time is a good catchall: if I can complain about being busy, then I don’t have to look at other areas in my life.
- Worrying about time gives me something to talk about with other people.
- Worrying about time is a convenient excuse for not following my dreams.
- My schedule is wrapped up with my self-esteem. Being “too busy” means that I’m successful.
- I don’t plan things that I might enjoy because it is too scary — it just feels safer to be bored.
Do any other payoffs come to mind? Which ones resonate as possibly being true for you? For further reflection, refer to the questions in the sidebar “Exploring Your Time Anxiety.”
Once we can identify the payoffs that we get from worrying about time, we can see them for what they are: illusions that keep us from living our true potential. Simply being aware of what we are getting from our time worries allows us to make a different choice. Choice is one of the nine ARTbundance Principles, which are building blocks to self-awareness. Making new choices is one of the best ways we can explore new layers of freedom with time. Dana Sebastian-Duncan, a trainee in the ACT program, put it nicely: “When I really think of the Principle of Choice as it relates to time, it reminds me that I have the freedom to create my life and my own ‘reality.’ My daily choices add up to my life, and that is empowering.”
Marney K. Makridakis is the author of Creating Time. She founded the Artella online community for creators of all kinds and the print magazine Artella. A popular speaker and workshop leader, she created the ARTbundance approach of self-discovery through art. She lives in Dallas, Texas. Visit her online at http://www.artellaland.com.
Excerpted from the book Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life ©2012 by Marney Makridakis. Published with permission of New World Library http://www.newworldlibrary.com