Time is currency. Unpack that for a second. How many minutes of your day and hours of your week do you spend on frivolous, unnecessary tasks or distractions that don’t bring you anything close to happiness? How many of those minutes could be spent playing with your child, holding your significant other’s hand, or creating a new project that lights your heart on fire? We don’t get awards for being “too busy” and “I don’t have enough time” isn’t a badge of honor. Time is the most important form of currency because you can never make more, you can’t buy it, and you can’t get it back. This is why you need to create more time.
Two students from the high school I work at died last week from gunshots to the head. When we returned to school Tuesday from the long Columbus Day weekend, I counseled students through their grief, listened to their stories about their friends, and helped them give voice to their fears about their own lives. Tuesday was also National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, and I published an article about “My Miscarriage Story.” My students had no idea they were going to die that day, just like I hadn’t a clue that I would find blood in my underwear at the airport en route to New York, ending my pregnancy.
Life is precious. We know in our hearts that we take it for granted. Why do we do this? When I helped Julia wash her hands this morning, she suddenly put her head on my chest and kept it there for a minute. I was already running late, but I would pay for extra seconds like that. She won’t always want to hug mama and let me hold her. I saw our reflection in the mirror and watched her tiny little puckered hands reach for my shoulder to grasp me more. These are the moments that matter. When I zone out while writing an article like this or do a deep dive into my morning routine digital course (launching in February!), I feel creative and alive. These are the moments that matter. When I hold my husband’s hand and invoke a pet name that we have for each other, those are the moments that matter. Life is precious.
With that in mind, we must get serious about how we spend our time. Can you make this commitment to yourself – to be more present, purposeful, and more thoughtful with your time? We have to cut the crap and be honest with ourselves. Yes, life is busy, but it’s not too busy. “Too busy” is a choice. Too busy is a way to avoid change and growth. Come on, let’s do this together.
You only have one life – Days and years will fly by in the same pattern if you don’t advocate for yourself. No one is going to turn to you at the end of the day and ask, “Are you fulfilled, babe?” Not gonna happen. Prince Charming isn’t going to save you. Prince Charming is busy doing laundry, dishes, helping with homework, working, and engaging in his own hobbies or projects. It’s not his responsibility to provide for your happiness, just like it’s not yours to provide for his. Your partner can be the icing on the cake, but you, friend, must be the cake.
But what does that mean? Somewhere in your day you must, must, must carve out time for yourself. Whether you set a goal to run a 5k, go back to college, or read more, it won’t happen unless you make time. You. You alone are responsible for creating the plan. Your family will have to get on board with it, but nothing can happen unless you initiate it. You might be feeling anxious just reading this and thinking about all the ways your family might react and already be talking yourself out of it because of the logistics, but get out of your own way! You are not responsible for others’ feelings!
That’s what we do a lot of times – we eliminate the options before we even get started. Knock it off! You might have a tiny spark in your gut about something that excites you, but then you squash it with all the what ifs and fear. You know what happens, then? The more you do that, the less you will feel that spark. Eventually, the flame dies, and you are left with complacency about your own life. You feel like you might want something more, but eh, you also feel lazy about it.
When did it become the norm to accept a mediocre life? You can be two things at once – you can be happy with your life AND complacent. That’s the point I was at last year. I was happy with my job, my children, my marriage, and overall, myself. But what if, what if you could have an f-ing amazing life? Not just one that you were pretty ok with, but one you were invigorated about? One that, if today were your last day, you would be proud of? Fulfilled by? That’s what I’m talking about.
How do you do “create” more time, then? – Have you heard someone say something like “We all have the same hours in a day as Beyonce. You can do it, too”? Insert eye roll. Yes, we literally have the same amount of hours, but until we become kajillionaires (actual term), we still have to do laundry, dishes, kids’ homework, kids’ shower, dinner, grocery shopping, work, chauffeur our kids around to extracurricular activities, spend time with our partners, AND keep our pets alive every day. EVERY DAY.
Here’s our sitch (I’m hip like that – I say sitch, short for situation): We can’t add hours to the day AND we still have all the responsibilities. That forces us, then, to maximize our time and be more thoughtful about how we use it. If you ever feel like (or complain) that you don’t have enough time, then it’s time to get real. If you sincerely want to improve your life, challenge yourself, and be proud, then you must be willing to do the work.
The first step is to reflect on how you currently spend your time. In my FREE guide “How to Create More Time” HERE, I provide a worksheet for you to record how you spend the hours in an entire week. You can think about what you do during any given day, but it’s more impactful if you literally see the hours mapped out in front of you. If you keep track of what you do for a week, you will quickly identify what is a productive use of your time and how you are wasting it.
After reflecting on your hours, you will identify goals. You can review your worksheet to determine gaps and how better to use your time. Now you’re cooking! You have goals, identified time to achieve them, and now you can create the habits to pursue them. Some of you reading this might blow this off and not download the guide. That’s your choice. But recognize that it is a choice. You are choosing to remain stagnant. On the other hand, if you receive the guide and dedicate time to use it, you will move forward.
My promises – I handle change better if I have an inkling of what to expect, so pull up a chair, because I’m sharing some insights. I promise your path to more won’t be easy. I doubt myself every single month. I wonder if this is all worth it. I am a full-time high school counselor, mama of two littles, wife, Independent College Counselor, conqueror of my morning routine, and am pursuing my dream to be a writer, speaker, and course creator. I publish an article every Tuesday, often sharing stories that make me feel vulnerable. Do you know how often I feel awkward and unsure? Every day. Every single day. I’m 43. I didn’t have social media until March of this year. Have a giggle for a moment and imagine all the ways I could feel ridiculous trying to learn Facebook and Instagram.
On top of the doubts, fears, and insecurities, I navigate mommy guilt and spouse guilt on the regular. Am I taking too much time away from them? Am I making sure to show them in comparable ways how much I love them? Am I showing up for them as much as I am for my dream?
Friend, there is no right answer, and you will likely never feel like you are handling it all well. I thought I planned well by working on Follow Your Spark projects before I leave school every day to pick up the kiddos. I rationalized to myself that this way, my children are being cared for, and it’s not taking time away from how I interact with them at home or with my husband. I thought it was a good compromise until my husband mentioned that I had been staying at work longer this school year and to remember that Julia is in daycare all day. Friend, you will likely feel like you can’t win.
But you have to believe in yourself and that thing that’s causing the spark in the first place. I’m launching my first digital course in February, “The Magic Hour: Your Master Plan for Creating and Conquering your Morning Routine for Good,” and I believe with my whole heart that if a woman carves out an hour a day for herself, the sky is the limit. My alarm goes off at 4:50 am Monday through Saturday, and I exercise and make my smoothie before work and kids get up. I’m peaceful, more productive, and fulfilled without taking any time away from my family.
Doing the “How to Create More Time” guide helped me realize that I needed a morning routine. I needed to carve out time for myself. The best side effect of my morning routine is that it makes me a better mommy. This belief in my program carries me through the doubts. I doubt myself literally every month (usually around the time of my period), but I also trust my instincts. I’ve accepted that fear, insecurities, and doubt will always be along for the ride. That’s ok. They can ride in the backseat. You have to be willing to sit in the discomfort to become who you are meant to be. I’m following my spark, too.
You will enjoy the process – I promise you will enjoy the process. Yes, it will be gut-wrenching at times, but you will also be inspired, creative, and enthralled with the feeling you have while in pursuit of your goal. The feeling I get after I jump off the spin bike in my morning routine? I feel invincible. I come up with new ideas for Follow Your Spark after exercising. The feeling I get when I’m writing? I’m in the zone. I’m challenged and inspired at the same time. I feel alive and value life more. Don’t you want that for yourself? When you read that, how can you settle for mediocrity? You already have this in you, but you have to follow your spark. Trust yourself, too.
You might be reading this and be unsure of what your “spark” is, and that’s ok. Not everyone knows what they want to pursue. Not knowing, though, is not an acceptable reason for remaining stagnant. Lack of action is action. Stagnancy is still a choice. If you need help creating your plan, download my FREE “Follow Your Spark” guide HERE. I will repeat this because it’s so important: Not knowing what you are interested in is not a reason to accept mediocrity. It’s an excuse.
It will make other stressful times more bearable – Think about times that typically cause you stress. For instance, maybe you get anxious when your boss springs an afternoon deadline on you, or when you’re trying to get the kids out of the house on time to catch the school bus. I typically get overwhelmed when my husband travels for work, and I am responsible for working, all kid-related things, and Follow Your Spark. He normally only travels two nights a month, but he recently went out of town for five nights in a row.
Just typing that made me inhale extra deeply. It occurred to me, though, that I wasn’t as stressed during this last trip. When I reflected about what helped make it easier, I realized it’s because I’m fulfilled. I can’t believe I’m typing this. For the first time in my life, I’m fulfilled in all areas of my life. I’ve been happy with my children and spouse, but now I’m taking time to develop Follow Your Spark, exercising with my morning routine most days, and listening to inspiring podcasts everyday. I’m challenged and encouraged. I make it a priority to fill my own cup. When stressful times pop up, then, I’m able to handle them better than if I weren’t making myself a priority. Amazing, right? I had no idea that by following my own spark that it would affect so many areas of my life.
Fulfillment is waiting for you, too.
Please comment below or email me with your biggest struggle with time management! What would you do if you had an extra hour in your day? Do you want help creating a morning routine? Let me know!
Don’t forget to subscribe to the “Follow Your Spark” newsletter to automatically learn about new articles! As always, thank you for reading!