One of the greatest desires in life is more time. We might feel like there's never enough time to get everything done or to get to the things we really want to do, such as exercise, start a hobby, visit a friend or family member, clean out a closet, or simply relax and be present. We'll get to those things later; there are already too many responsibilities and other things on the to-do list. In reality, all that matters is now. When we keep waiting for later, it never comes. More things come up that need our attention.
In order for this to change, we have to believe we are meant not only to survive, but to thrive and live joyously. This starts with listening to our own needs and finding balance between all parts of our lives, including work, family, personal time, sleep, etc. When we give up control over how our time is spent, we allow others to dictate it for us, and our well being suffers. In this way, we become slaves to time. How can this change? It starts with realizing and believing we have complete control over our lives. Let's repeat that. We have complete control over our lives. How do we take back the control we've given to others? Boundaries. Think about what it looks like to live a balanced and joyous life. This doesn't mean giving up all responsibilities. Instead, imagine how you would spend your days the way you want.
Here's an exercise to take a closer look at how you're currently spending your time, so you can then create your ideal day from start to finish. This will allow you to begin prioritizing differently and creating the life you've put on the back burner for far too long.
1) Make a list of your current day including time spent across all of your activities and obligations.
2) Next, make a second list of your ideal day.
Write this below your schedule: I release any guilt for these changes to my priorities. I deserve to live a happy and balanced life.
3) Look at your ideal schedule every morning. Begin making small changes throughout the day to move towards the new schedule. Say "no" more often. We are taught to always say "yes" to get ahead in our lives, to keep the peace, and to be kind. We're actually doing ourselves and everyone else involved a disservice every time we say yes to something our hearts don't agree with. This creates resentment and remorse that we often internalize. What happens when we start saying no? Probably not the worse case scenario imagined. Empower others to step up if you have taken on more than your fair share despite the consequences to your own balance and happiness. Eat lunch outside instead of in front of the computer, and take a full hour. Decide against working late to get ahead on a project. Let someone else make dinner, or order in.
The purpose of this exercise is not to have a rigid schedule to achieve balance. Rather, it is to recognize how you're currently spending time and where you can potentially make alterations to welcome more balance in your life.
Be patient; change usually doesn't happen overnight. But as you begin taking small steps to prioritize what's important, eventually these lead to big changes. Once you start setting boundaries, the universe supports you and things start falling into place in unpredictable ways. Meetings begin to fall off the once overbooked calendar. People become less demanding of your time. Your personal time increases. Your internal beliefs materialize in your outer world. And if things don't change for the better, that's a cue that it's time for you to make some bigger changes in your life.
For some, this may come easy. For others, it takes more diligent work. But personal boundaries help not only ourselves, but also everyone we interact with. When we're happy and fulfilled, we are better coworkers, parents, partners, and friends. And we can set a positive example for the others in our lives.