One of the biggest parts of my job as a psychologist is helping people make meaningful change in their life. This change varies from client to client, focusing on everything from relationships, coping styles, and health behaviors, to communication patterns, parenting styles, and emotional regulation. Ninety-nine percent of clients sit with me during their first appointment, acknowledging a strong desire for change in their lives. Whether or not you are in therapy at the moment, I imagine you can identify with this desire for meaningful change. I think most humans are looking to grow and change, making our lives more meaningful and congruent with our values.
When considering change, there is typically a point where we realize just how hard the change is going to be. We realize the time, effort, and energy our desired change is going to take.
Perhaps you want to better cope with your anxiety, and you realize how much time is involved in learning to create more balanced and realistic thoughts.
Perhaps you want to communicate better with your significant other, and you realize how much time active listening skills take to implement.
Maybe you want to better regulate your emotions, and you realize how much time mindfulness can take.
Maybe you want to exercise more consistently, and you realize how hard it is to find time to hit the trail or head to the gym.
This realization is almost inevitable when we think about making meaningful change, and it’s typically followed up with a single and slightly panicked question. “Where on Earth am I going to find the time to do this?!”
Most of us have desperately asked ourselves this question, and I want to challenge you rethink the idea of finding time. “Finding” has a fairly passive connotation, one that almost sounds like happenstance. You found a quarter on the street; you found that document you misplaced; you found that earring at the bottom of your purse. Those finds are awesome, no doubt, but they often aren’t the result of thoughtful, intentional, and energy-expending efforts. So if you wait to make that change until you can find some time, my bet is you’re going to be waiting for a long time.
Instead, I challenge you to MAKE time. Actively, intentionally, and thoughtfully, make time for what is necessary for meaningful change. Making time involves actively creating the time for what you want. And because none of us have figured out how to add extra hours into the day, the way to make time in our lives is to make changes to how we spend our 24 hours. This likely means making difficult choices and sacrifices, driven by our values, to make time for what it is you want.
Maybe this means setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier, Facebooking less, or turning off the TV an hour earlier. Maybe this means leaving the office promptly at five, saying “no” to a social invitation, or telling your family Tuesday nights are DIY sandwich nights. Maybe this means blocking off a few hours on Sunday afternoon, restructuring your daily schedule, embracing a ponytail a few more mornings a week, or taking ten minutes before bedtime. Over the next week, pay attention to how you spend your time. We often feel like we are stretched thin, but usually, if we slow down and take an honest inventory of our time and how we spend it, we can see several ways to make more time in our lives.
Making time isn’t easy, but it’s necessary for meaningful change. Changing your motto from finding time to making time is one of quickest ways to create more time in your life for the change you so deeply desire.
So what things are you wanting to find time for and how can you make time for them instead? Leave your responses in a comment; I’d love to hear your goals and help you make time for what you want!