Imagine this: a small hole in a wall, perhaps only a half-inch in circumference, and it needs to be patched with spackle.
If you try to repair a small hole with a ton of spackle, it’s useless. As soon as you cram some in, the excess slides out. It won’t fit.
Widening the hole to accommodate more spackle, of course, would be lunacy.
But this was what we do with our desires for more time. We try to subvert the laws of seconds and minutes and hours that turn into days, weeks, months, years. We tell ourselves that we can cram in more than we can actually cram in.
In the meantime, this pattern makes us miserable.
In the meantime, we don’t enjoy anything of what we have, what’s here now.
Two Truths About Time
We all have the same amount.
You cannot create more.
Meditate on that for just a moment. We all have the same amount. You cannot create more.
If you really “got it,” deep in your bones that this is true, what would you do differently with your life?
Would you stop saying yes to the things that feel like heavy burdens of obligation?
Would you buy less, so that you’d have less to monitor, pay for, clean, or otherwise take care of?
Would you feel less stress, and more ease, because you clearly saw the fallacy of believing that if you JUST organize, focus, and quadrant your time into categorized blocks, there would me more of it?
Getting Organized and Focused
Funny thing, this “getting organized and focused” story line–some of the people who get the most done are constantly saying to themselves and others, “I’m so behind; I just need to get more organized and focused.”
They believe it, too.
This borders on something like a disorder. You know how someone with anorexia is unable to see how very thin she actually is? People who get a ton done, who are actually very efficient, tell themselves that they don’t do enough and that they need to do ever more.
Tired All the Time
By the way, are you tired, all of the time?
This “trying to cram more spackle into the tiny hole” pattern is fucking exhausting.
If you’re tired of being tired, at some point you’ve gotta just drop it–all that you’ve been trying to hold, organize, categorize.
You rest. Then you look around, and you ask yourself: “What’s actually important, here? What’s worth picking back up?”
“Organized and focused” is actually a feeling. It’s a feeling that has little or nothing to do with the cleanliness of your house or whether you have reached inbox zero.
When you know what your priorities are, it’s a lot easier to “get organized” or “feel focused.”
So what are your priorities? (Try writing them down).
Then ask yourself: Do I actually live this way?
If you don’t, then consider that what stops you from living in alignment with your priorities probably isn’t that you haven’t found the right time management system, yet.
Also, it’s probably not that you need to organize your desk drawers or trick out your office.
Finally, it won’t really make much difference whether you write out a meal plan every week, or wing it each night in the kitchen.
What will make a difference? What will have you living in alignment with your priorities? How you treat yourself as you go through your day to day. Deal with the inner critic voices, and you’ve officially put yourself in the express lane to feeling more “organized” and “focused” in your life–because your laser focus is poised for happiness. You’re not going about your day, trying to do your thing, all while beating the shit out of yourself in the process.
Getting Things Done
Getting things done is, on many levels, over-rated (I never knew this until I became a mother).
What’s more important–what feels better–is being clear what your priorities are. Not someone else’s obligations are; not what your priorities are “supposed to” be. Yours. What are your priorities, the things that uniquely make you feel more like…well, you? The things that, when you honor them by giving them a central place in your life, bring you joy?
My priorities are my kid, my partner/our marriage, writing.
My priorities are reading as many books as possible, roller derby, and travel.
My priorities are working my way up to CEO in the company, yoga teacher training on the weekends, and
My priorities are doing as little as possible, just breathing, just being.
There are infinite ways to do thing called life. It’s miserable to try to endlessly cram things in; it’s joyful to pare back.
You actually have plenty of time, if you get clear on what you desire most.
(Not clear on what you want to prioritize? Check out the Shift Plan, a free download just for YCL subscribers).
Discernment: “the ability to see and understand people, things, or stituations clearly and intelligently” –Merriam-Webster
Discernment is a key tool when practicing courage. It’s the razor’s edge between the kind of crazy that pulls a few all-nighters to proudly meet a launch deadline…and pulling all-nighters until you run yourself into the ground.
It’s the kiss of space between needing to push yourself for just a bit more compassion in the face of someone’s bad behavior…and being a pushover.
It’s knowing the difference between having some debt and making an investment…and having some debt and rationalizing creating more debt because instant gratification is leading the way.
In every decision we make, every response, there are polarizing extremes, and then there’s the murky middle. That’s where discernment is key.
Want to trust yourself, more? Want to have more capacity for taking risks? Feeling shaky when you make decisions?
You need yourself a dose of discernment.
Here’s the kinda-sorta bad news: you learn discernment by completely fucking up discernment.
Translation? You gotta get in there and sleep with the wrong guy, spend more than you have, quit the job and spend your savings and take the job back.
In other words, discernment is learned through making mistakes. Royally. That’s how you start to pick up on the cues that tell you THIS GUY IS A LIFETIME MOVIE WAITING TO HAPPEN versus THIS GUY WOULD BE AWESOME TO HAVE A FLING WITH–NO HARM, NO FOUL.
This means, by the way, that there’s no need to ever be intimidated by anyone you perceive to be good at making decisions. If they are good at making decisions, if they generally trust themselves, if they are more or less grounded in who they are? Well, then. They have screwed up in life, a lot! They are imperfect, just like you and me! They learned from it. Huzzah!
Your Next Brilliant Move
No one can give you the 1-2-3 steps for learning discernment, absolutely–we’re all too individual. For one person, it’s HELLO OBVIOUS that you don’t spend money you don’t have when you also have debt, but those same people might have trouble not giving time that they don’t have, to every person who asks.
But people can help you with this: deciding how you’ll treat yourself in reaction to discernment thrown wildly off-kilter.
Do you stop taking action? Do you tell yourself awful, critical things?
In the Courageous Living Program, I’m not teaching anyone “how to live.” I’m really teaching you a skill-set for discernment. I want people to learn to trust themselves by doing (so the program pushes taking action like it’s a street drug, for reals). I want people to reframe their past mistakes (so we get into the “Stories” you tell yourself that limit your life, and working with the inner critic voices that get so loud when mistakes happen).
The courage of discernment is that when your compass isn’t so finely pointed, and you miss the mark, you decide that the response is not to hide out or beat yourself up.
The response is to get back in there, so that you can learn more of the nuances. You become a better picker and chooser–of people, of circumstances, of telling your true yes and your true no.
If you want to learn discernment, your next brilliant move is to make any move at all and decide that you won’t berate yourself for the outcome. Instead, you’ll pay attention. You’ll get clear, so that you can figure out what your barometer of discernment is trying to tell you.
The fear is there–you might need to fuck up discernment a few more times–but the courage is in the paying attention.
Many of us fear not having enough money.
There are plenty of places and spaces where this is an absolutely legitimate fear–after losing a job, when you’ve had an illness or death in the family, after realizing that you made a bad investment.
This blog post is not about that.*
This post is about all of the times, probably hundreds of times in a week, when people who actually have enough and who have always landed on their feet will chronically worry about not having enough.
There is a fear that many people chronically suffer from, one that I call “Worrying that you won’t have enough IF…”
It looks something like this: you’re about to buy something for yourself, say the most gorgeous sweater you’ve ever seen, and it’s $200–for you, an extravagance. If you examine this logically, you know you have the money for the $200 sweater. But what if there wasn’t enough money at the end of the month? You have no reason to believe that there wouldn’t be, but something in you worries about this possibility.
Some people decide to hell with it, buy the sweater. Others leave it on the table. The reaction to the fear differs, but the primary fear is the same: I might not have enough.
Or, it looks something like this: You have a job you hate. You’ve been there for years. You’ve done your work to try to improve it wherever you can, but little to nothing has changed, and waking up and going to this job is wearing thin.
You fantasize about quitting. You draw up budgets of all your household expenses to plot how you’d quit, could you afford it, and…well, interesting. The numbers are kinda sorta working out that you could go to part-time. Or you could build your business for a year if you lived off of your savings and did some freelance consulting in your industry. Or you could…wow. So there are options. But–
butbutbutbutbut. BUT. What if you didn’t have enough?
Even though the math is staring you right in the face: checkbook in the black, a back-up plan to avoid going into the red, you’re afraid of that same question.
What if I didn’t have enough?
What if I didn’t have enough?
What if I didn’t have enough?
It looks something like this: You would really love to take a vacation. Like, more than anything. You’ve worked hard, been responsible, even saved up the money for it–you HAVE the money, ready to go, the vacation time, all of it. You surf travel websites and fantasize about where you’d go.
But what if something happened? What if you lost your job? What if you didn’t have enough money because something awful happened?
The Real Fear
We live in times of materialistic excess and I’m not suggesting that asking common-sense questions that plan for leaner times is the way of the sap.
What I am suggesting is that in these cases where there is a chronic yet unfounded worry about not having enough money, then fear is in the driver’s seat of these choices.
There’s no ease, no expansiveness, no faith in oneself or trust in the world, when you avoid make choices that would lift you up, because you’re afraid of not having enough money.
That gets right to the heart of it:
Fear of not having enough, is often really a fear that you are not enough.
It’s a fear of being defined by your (low) bank account numbers.
It’s a fear that you lack resourcefulness to find solutions if the shit hit the fan.
It’s a fear that you don’t know how to deal with the stress of a serious financial challenge.
It’s a fear that the world, your world, will fall apart.
Everything is Figure-out-able
I’ve lived through “not enough money.” Not a decade of my life has gone by where there were not, at some point, some serious money challenges.
When I was juggling credit cards and bank accounts with less than $50 of room; when the shit actually did hit the fan and didn’t know how I would pay for something; when I was presented with a serious financial challenge, and when my way of living was falling apart, that’s when I learned–
Not to be defined by the numbers; how to find solutions; how to deal with the stress; how to let my world fall apart and come back together, again.
At some point in the midst of all of those experiences, I decided that “Everything is figure-out-able,” and I began looking around for how to figure it out.
Sometimes it meant that I had to go back to working the crap jobs that I’d left. Sometimes it meant that I was working two jobs, rising at dawn to work in one place and falling into bed after midnight, after having worked at another. Sometimes, it meant that I had to ask for charity, or to borrow money. Sometimes it meant extreme budgets.*
But everything has been figure-out-able, even when it initially seemed that it would not be.
Rally Your Resources
It’s one thing for someone who truly doesn’t have options to say that they’re afraid of not having enough.
It’s a loss for all of us when millions of people who do have options, who could figure out a resourceful way to land on their feet in the name of courageously and authentically living their lives, decide not to.
Rally your resources. You have them. You have people you could fall back on, jobs that you could work at for just one more year while hocking away the bucks into a savings account, credit cards that could be juggled, smaller houses that could be moved into, tax returns that are coming your way that could be spent on your dream vacation instead of ever-more prudence.
Take a moment, right now, just to write out all of your resources. List all the things you could sell if you needed the cash, the jobs you’d take on, the blood you’d donate, the apartment complex you’d move into if the shit really hit the fan and it was all about liquidation.
Add up that number.
Then think of the people. Think of your children, and how there’s no price paid for the love you have for them. Think of your partner. Think of your relatives. Think of your friends.
Barn-raising is a thing of the past, but I bet that if you really steeped yourself in considering the good tidings your beloveds have for you, you’d see the Love-raising that they’d provide if you needed it.
Then think of the years you have left. What you want to make of them. How you want to invest your capital–the capital of “The world needs my gift.” Start conversations with people about how they afford what they afford. Learn their tips and tricks.
Add all of the information that you glean from this inquiry into your bucket of gold–the gold that is you.
Whether or not you “have” enough is a small win compared to whether or not you live with a feeling that you ARE enough.
*Yes. I completely understand my privilege in having all of the resources described in this piece. This post is exclusively speaking to all of those people who have access to these sorts of resources, yet still live in chronic fear of not having enough money .