People make time for what they want because they want to. There is a word for this – called self-determination theory. It states that individuals make the time they want to and not simply because of external forces or because anything else will happen in their life (or, at least not much).
We think that it is important to explore how you can harness the power of personal choice in your own life.
Here are a few simple steps you can make time for what you want in your life:
1. Understand what your goals are.
If you have not set clear goals, write them down and keep them somewhere you can refer to them often. Also, select specific next actions that will move you closer to those goals. If it is something that takes more than one day, it is too big of a goal; break it down into smaller daily tasks.
Without goals, you are like a ship lost at sea. You can drift along aimlessly forever or you can plot a course and set sail.
This is not to say that you should not have big-dreaming, just that the dreaming should be accompanied by some actions in the present to make it happen in the future.
2. Set ‘priorities’ with hard deadlines and put them on your calendar.
If you only have a few things to do each day, you can just decide to work on something. If your list is long and varied, however, you should prioritize what matters the most and then schedule it into your calendar.
3. Write down everything you need to do even if it doesn’t interest you or seems boring.
For example, if you want to write a novel, but a novel requires research and outlining and character development – take it one step at a time. Make a list and put it on your calendar. By writing these down you are making a clear commitment and you are also ensuring that there will be no more excuses.
4. Find out the most elegant way to meet your needs.
Figure out how to get everything done in the best way possible so that you can get the most back from it. Not everything has to be done in a “big way”. All this means is that some way needs to be found instead of doing everything in a big rush with no order.
In other words, when you have decided to stop multitasking and start doing things the most efficient way, do not make it difficult for yourself. There are always ways around anything – find the most elegant or least painful way to get those things done.
5. When you have decided to do something, take action now.
If you want to start a business or exercise more, do not wait until the time is “right”. That time is now! There will never be a perfect time to start something so why not just make the time for it now? If you wait for that perfect moment and never seem to get around to it, what happens? Time slips away and you remain where you were.
6. Stop waiting around for other people or circumstances.
You must take responsibility for your own life. You must take action in your own life. There will always be things that you can do to improve, to make better, to grow. Nobody else is going to do it for you – so why wait? If you want more time for something that is important for you then stop waiting and start making time now!
7. Balance the “important” things with the “pleasure” things.
Just because something would be useful, or just because it is important to you or those around you, does not mean that it has to be done at all times. Do not get stuck in a rut. If you want an hour of reading in the morning and then an hour of exercise in the evening and then nothing during the rest of your day – this is fine.
There are always things that are important to you but they do not have to over-take anything else that is equally good or important. Keep them in balance.
8. Do not forget to spend quality time with friends and family.
There will always be time for the people you love. If that means less meeting on the weekends, or less time studying, just make a little more time during the week and give your loved ones an hour or two of attention at least a few times a week. You are worth it! They are worth it!
9. Do not let unproductive distractions win you over.
You need to develop a sense of mindfulness so that you can be aware when something is taking up your time. If you are worried about how much time you spend on the internet, watch TV, or talking on the phone – stop! Do not let this kind of distraction take over all of your waking hours. Simply take a moment as soon as it happens and refocus on what is important.
10. Make sure you are spending time on things you enjoy.
If you do not enjoy what you do, then that is a problem. So get out of the rut of doing the same thing over and over and instead allow yourself to discover and explore what interests you. If your career is not challenging enough, change it!
Trying new things will keep your soul alive. You will become more vibrant and alive. You will be more effective, more determined and motivated.
11. Do not take yourself too seriously.
A lack of self-esteem is a huge downfall in life. Take care of your own self-esteem and it will spur you on to do more to accomplish what you want. Do not get too big (even if you are doing important work) and ever be afraid to fail for fear of losing status or approval. You do not need anyone’s approval but your own.
Negative emotions can grow when something is taken so seriously. If you are always serious, life becomes more difficult and less enjoyable.
12. Don’t let the little things get to you.
You must create a sanctuary in your life where you can be as free as possible to be yourself – even if others do not like it, or find it strange or uncouth. You are not the same as the others, they are not the same as you. It is okay to be different! It is okay to be who you really are – freely and without fear.
In other words, do not give up on your individuality or creative pursuits just because something that others want you to do is more prestigious or profitable. If you enjoy doing art rather than accounting then follow your heart and do it!
13. Make sure what you are doing has a higher purpose.
If you are living and working but you have no passion for what you do – then change it! There is always a way to do otherwise. You can find another job, become self-employed, or learn something new. You will never be truly happy if what you do does not fulfil or excite you.
14. Make sure your goals are not too small.
When you are setting goals make them as big as possible so there is lots of room to grow and evolve within them. It is never too late to change a goal into something bigger and better. It will be more motivating and exciting in the long run.
15. Learn to accept your mistakes instead of dwelling on them.
Learn from your mistakes so you do not make the same ones again in the future. Do not allow yourself to grow bitter or angry because of your past errors or disappointments. Just let them go and move on!