June 2, 2016

Time for a Tough Truth: We Do Have Time.

Bethany Legg/Unsplash

I’ve noticed that we often make our regrets and offer up excuses as to why we can’t spend more time with family or friends. We explain how busy our lives are and how impossible it is to make plans.

I believe that it’s time for a tough truth.

We make time for what we value.

I don’t believe that most of us do this consciously. I believe we may often feel genuine regret that we don’t see our family or friends more, or that we don’t take on this or that project. We may even believe that our excuses are good ones; so many of us do lead such busy lives.

If we closely examine our lives, however, we can easily see what we value and what we don’t based on how we choose to spend our time.

We all have the same number of hours in a day, the same number of days in a week. We all make choices about how we spend what little free time we have available.

Our choices are indicative of our priorities.

This is a tough truth, but one I began thinking about when I considered the upcoming summer months. Several years ago, I suggested having a get-together with the extended family in the summer rather than the traditional Christmas holiday celebration. It was not greeted with enthusiasm. Instead, there was a backlash for suggesting an alternative plan for spending time together.

I have often wondered why so many families only feel it necessary to get together around the holidays, particularly as the holidays are already weighted down with an excess of events. Many of us take time off during the year for vacations or other outings, but we don’t see a need to use that time to see our family or friends. Again, it’s all about choice.

With that in mind, I’ve been busy planning a road trip that will include visits to several family members and friends that we see rarely or not at all, so that my children have an opportunity to build these relationships. Although it will be time-consuming, not to mention challenging for this single parent of toddlers, I feel that if I say my value system includes time with family, then I need to back that up with action.

It’s a choice I’m making as a part of living mindfully. I can live a life fully congruent with the values that I espouse only when I closely examine my words against how I actually spend my time.

When we make time for the people and things we value, our lives begin to match our dreams and desires. If we say that we value family, our choices should clearly demonstrate this. If we say that we want to have a healthy relationship, our choices should reflect this in how we treat our partners. Otherwise, perhaps we should stop saying it.

Whatever our value system, it is our actions—and not our words—that spotlight our priorities.

It can be a challenge to examine our own motivations in choosing one option over another, but by doing so, we often gain insight into our priorities. If our actions don’t line up with what we profess to value, we then have the opportunity to make new choices.

Every day we can choose and choose again, without limiting ourselves to our old patterns of behavior. By understanding these patterns, we can choose a life that reflects our desires and dreams.


Relephant Read:

Achieving Balance in a Busy Life: It’s all about Priorities.


Author: Crystal Jackson

Editor: Toby Israel

Image: Bethany Legg/Unsplash


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