These days, my time is completely filled up. My time has become precious, and booking time to spend with someone is a gift. My time is a limited commodity, and every time I say yes to something, I'm saying no to something else. So from that place, it becomes clear how to guide my actions. I stop saying yes. I say no to more things. Instead of giving my time away to anyone that will take it, I have to start treating my time as precious. It is the same for me as it is for anyone else that wants to create more time in their lives: start relating to your time as precious, and other people will as well.
This is so simple. Relate to my own time as precious, and other people will as well. Here are some ways I could do that:
- Charge a higher rate for my services
- Say no more often
- Set aside specific blocks of time where I am available, and don't make appointments outside of those
- Set aside specific blocks of time for e-mail, and don't answer e-mails outside of them
- Stop agreeing to time-consuming appointments (eg, meeting for lunch and coffee) and instead stick with conversations over the phone
All of those are simple solutions to my problem.
So why don't I implement them? The answer is because simple is different from easy. The most profound insights that I usually generate while working with my coach, Jolynne, are often the simplest. The sort of things where I slap my forehead, wondering how I could possibly have gotten it so wrong.
Simply being simple doesn't mean that I go out and create them. Instead I resist. I know that I should be saying no to lunches. And yet I keep saying yes. Why am I doing this?
I'm doing this because I've created stories that are in direct contrast to those simple solutions. Those stories make things complicated and I've created structures that support that complication.
Holding my time as cheap and available to whoever wants it has generated a degree of success up to this point, but it is now insufficient to generate the success I want beyond this stage.
It is simple because it's clear what there is to do. It is not easy, because I have resistance to taking those things on. In order to take those things on, I may have to confront or even be with the very thing that I put created those structures to avoid in the first place.
The same is true for most of my clients. The highly successful lawyers that wish they had more time for their family and leisure continually show up to my calls explaining why they didn't have time to take on any of the practices we generated last session. When we look at what they chose instead, it's clear that they're perpetuating the cycle. Instead of saying no, they say yes to more. Instead of risking whatever saying no might create in their lives, they go with the devil they know, because that's easier.
I was working with a client who is responsible for creating some of the best events in our city and developing a tremendous amount of talent. The impact of his work is far and wide, and it's clear that he is a powerful leader. One of his practices has been to simply create a recurring ten minute space, every single work day, where he does nothing but sit in peace and quiet.
Ten minutes. That's it.
That is a simple practice — but for him, it is anything but easy. He has meetings, responsibilities, people that are demanding his time, international travel, and a plethora of other reasons he cannot make that commitment.
When we take on transformation, we lose sight of the fact that a solution being simple does not mean that it is easy. Once we lose sight of that fact, we get frustrated and batter ourselves when we fail to accomplish the goal we set for ourselves. And then that self-flaggelation leads back into the initial cycle.
It will always be easier to travel down the well-worn path. The more familiar something is, the easier it is for us to take it. Your development — your growth — will never be via the easy route.
Let go of the thought that things should be easy. It's not that they can't be — it's just that you've spent a lifetime creating a life that is complex. Stay focused and give yourself room to breathe. The return to simplicity is worth the struggle, even if it isn't an easy one.
Where in your life are you mistaking simplicity with ease? What happens when it doesn't turn out to be as easy as you thought it should? Where do you go from there?