I have an unhealthy infatuation with time.
There. I’ve admitted it.
My time infatuation wasn’t easy to admit. At first, I wrote, “I’m beginning to realize that I have an unhealthy infatuation with time,” but that isn’t really admitting to the problem.
I’m not sure I’m being completely honest. I don’t have an “unhealthy infatuation.” I fear I may have an addiction to time.
Admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery. Hopefully, that’s true because my relationship with time leaves me stressed, frazzled, and unable to enjoy the beautiful life God has gifted me.
If someone would have told me I had a time addiction, I would have argued with them. I’m a self-taught expert on time management. I have a morning routine I stick to without fail. I schedule my days. I follow GTD, use bullet journals, and upgraded to the premium version of ToDoist. I don’t have a time problem. I’ve conquered the problem of time!
[Sidenote: By the way, if you know what all of those time tools are, you, my friend, may have a time addiction! Take a look within, deep within. If you don’t know those time tools, check them out!]
I know the tricks and the tips of the time trade. My recommended YouTube videos and Amazon book wishlists reveal my focus on time. I’ve even purchased online classes designed to help me squeeze more time out of my day.
I go to these extremes because time is the only resource which cannot be replaced or manufactured. We may be able to make more money, but no matter what we do we cannot make more time. Time is limited and once our time is gone it is gone.
So, I learned how to do, delete, and delegate tasks to maximize the time I have.
I thought I had time in hand. I was managing my time and I was getting things done.
Feelin’ a Little Rushin’
While listening to the audiobook Ambition Addiction I began to feel uncomfortable. “Why,” I asked myself, “am I rushing to Pittsburgh?”
“For a retreat,” I answered.
But why rush? Why not stop along the way? Why not take the picture you thought about taking? Why not stop at the museum?
Such great questions. I often ask myself questions. Good questions. Questions, I struggle to answer.
So many questions and only one answer. “I want to get there as quickly as I can because once I get there, I’ll be able to relax,” I justified.
“Why not relax now? You’re going to a retreat. Isn’t it a bit ironic that you are rushing to get to a retreat?”
I’m sure you get the idea. I wasn’t giving myself a break.
The Problem Identified
I didn’t know why I felt so rushed. No one was telling me when I needed to be there. I was in complete control of my schedule. The retreat wasn’t starting the moment I arrived. I had time. Yet, I felt like I didn’t.
Why rush? So I could rest. I wanted to relax and I wasn’t going to be able to relax until I reached my destination.
That was the problem. That is MY problem. I can’t rest or relax until my work is done and I’ve reached my destination.
In one respect, I think my desire to get my work done before I relax is commendable. Like Bill Murray in What About Bob, I was “doing the work. I’m not a slacker.”
Then it hit me; my work is never done and the destination is always somewhere “out there.”
There’s always more work. The destination is never here. Therefore, I can never relax. I can never rest.
I strive and struggle to manage time so that I might be able to rest once I get to the destination that will never arrive. Once I arrive, I will realize the destination has moved. I still haven’t arrived.
To say I was shocked at my epiphany is an understatement.
You may think, “Where’s the probem? Isn’t managing time important? There’s so much to do and so many responsibilities. Isn’t it good to focus on using the time we have the best we are able to? ” Sure. I guess. Well, now I’m not so sure.
The Problem of the Present
Here’s the problem.
When the destination is always out there, the present is always an obstacle.
Benjamin Shalva says it better:
“As such, we ambition addicts view the present moment as a waiting room to endure, as one more hoop to jump through. Assessing the present moment with disappointment, discouragement, and even contempt, we frequently dissociate and disengage from activities and interactions throughout our day. Before an activity or interaction has even begun, we’re looking down the pike, fixing our eyes on what’s to come.”
That certainly doesn’t sound like a good life! Shalva argues that this approach leads to “contempt for the present and reverence for the future.” He’s right. My eyes are always on “the prize” even if I’m not sure what that prize is and it keeps moving.
What Do You Really Want?
The greatest coaching question I’ve ever heard is: What do you want?
I always have an answer. I know what I want. But when I take time to think about that question and reflect, my first answer usually isn’t the best answer or real answer. If I am honest, I may even say, “You know, I’m not sure what I want. What I really want anyway.”
Desire can be elusive, constantly moving and changing directions. Like Harry trying to catch the golden snitch, desire is always a bit beyond our grasp. Our reach isn’t long enough so we have to work hard to extend our reach or platform. If we’re lucky, or as good as Harry Potter, we might be able to one day reach out and grab our golden snitch. That’s the dream; a snitch in hand.
A Path To Peace
What can I do?
Shalva recommends five steps. The first step is to “slow down” and the second one is to “enjoy.” Currently, I’m stuck on the second step (The other steps are: give thanks, donate time, and dream anew).
I’m finding that always focusing on the future makes it impossible to slow down or enjoy the present. When you are rushing at breakneck speed for who knows what (because you certainly don’t) everything around you is a blur. Not only do you not take time to smell the roses, you can’t even see them as you speed by them. They simply aren’t there.
So, I have work to do. I don’t know where it will end, but I need to at least attempt the journey. The journey takes me to a place of peace. The journey will take time.
I still plan on managing my time. Time is far too important to squander away. Yet, I must manage my time, not for some future project or plan, but rather so I might open my eyes to the beauty around me and enjoy the people, events, and life God has gifted to me in the present.
Changes like this dramatic don’t happen overnight. Time has brought me where I am and it will take time for me to find a new way. I thank God that he continues to bless me with the gift of time. I pray that one day I will be able to slow down and enjoy the moments God gives; the beautiful, wonderful, amazing, miraculous moments.
Now, it’s back to work because I am a “work in progress” after all.
My hope and prayer for you are that you are able to slow down, enjoy, give things, donate time, and dream anew. I hope that you are amazed at the wonderful and miraculous moments you’ve been gifted by our loving God. If not, perhaps you have some slowing down to do too. May you live a peaceful life in God’s time.