But I Don’t Have Time!!!
The following is a simple but quite thought-provoking guest post by my friend Michal Stawicki from ExpandBeyondYourself. Michal is a bestselling author with a passion for personal development and personal success. He is dedicated to a life of learning and continual growth in all aspects so that he can improve the quality of people’s lives. He walks the talk and he knows exactly what it takes to create health, happiness and progress. In this article, he wants to help you improve your life through changing your mindset, creating new habits and doable action plans as well as eliminating limiting beliefs.
Och, one more, thing, Michal is not some ivory-tower guru telling you what to do. He also has a life to live: a day job, wife and kids, church obligations, a full time job, a daily 3-4 hour commute and random disasters (delayed trains, children’s illnesses…). Yet he manages to find time and passion to pursue his writing career (to make it harder, English is not his first language). He can make progress in all areas of his life. Read on to learn his common-sense approach and start changing your life (even if you don’t have time). This stuff is easier than you believe! Enjoy!
But I don’t have time to change my life!
How many times have you heard that?
How many times have you used that?
It’s simply not true. You were given your 24h, just like everybody else.
Your problem is not that you don’t have time. Your problem is how you spend your time.
A double blow from the two personal development masters will deal with your attitude:
“The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” — Earl Nightingale
“Time is our most valuable asset, yet we tend to waste it, kill it, and spend it rather than invest it.” — Jim Rohn
My time-vice is spending too much time on social media, Quora, and Facebook. They both are tools in my business, but I let them damage my productivity. Instead of answering messages and questions I just immerse myself in the flow of media. I give my time to wrong activities.
Last year I started a new job and saved about 40 minutes a day commuting. At the same time, I almost give up a habit of doing a Weider series in the morning under the excuse, that my new job is more demanding. Yes, it is, it means a lot of overtime, but I’m pretty sure that if I had been wasting less time on Quora and Facebook, my productivity at the office would have increased. I also spend quite a lot of time on social media in the evenings and because of that I have less time for sleep, so I wake up later, so I don’t have time for my morning exercises…
Do you see the vicious cycle? Do you recognize it in your life as well?
“I have no time” means simply “I prefer something else.” Usually, it isn’t a conscious decision. When I stop and think about it, I really prefer to do my morning workout listening to podcasts than to spend 15 minutes on Quora reading trivia about Barak Obama or on Facebook watching funny videos. Unfortunately, I don’t stop to think often enough, and writing this article about time and exercises is a great opportunity for that.
What can you do about your time ineptness? Two things.
1. Reform your personal philosophy.
There are some beliefs in your life that are hidden behind your every action. Some of them regard your time management. Some of them regard your health. You need a conscious effort to reform them or you need to put yourself in an environment where better beliefs prevail because attitude is contagious.
“I don’t have time” is just one of such beliefs.
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour. ” — Zen proverb
This is true of meditation, but this is even truer about your health. If you don’t give time for healthy practices now, you will give time to sickness down the road. This is not philosophical rumination, those are facts. No time and attention for exercises or diet mean time in bed a few months or years ahead.
It’s quite difficult for untrained mind to recognize excuses and alter the underlying beliefs. Nonetheless, self-awareness is a skill and can be practiced. The easiest way is to put in a visible place the question: For what I am making the time?
Instilling new beliefs is not as easy as repeating affirmations, mostly, because you will abandon this activity after a few days. On the other hand, spoken declaration supported with even the tiniest action (put down this chocolate bar and take an apple instead) really influences your beliefs, because only different action brings different results.
Our beliefs are shaped by self-talk, but also by the input sources and people we interact with. Thus, you can affect your beliefs “by osmosis.” Hang out with people who have better health beliefs, who “have time” for exercises and who pay attention to what they eat. Join online communities where such people are active. Read blogs or magazines that preach the importance of health. As long as your self-talk won’t counteract (“oh, what do they know, I don’t have time”) your beliefs will shift. That’s unavoidable.
The wonderful way to help you develop a proper personal philosophy about health is considering long-term consequences. When you think about a workout, you shouldn’t compare the effort of doing it with workout’s immediate results. Even if you burn 200 calories, it’s not that much. But compare exercising every day for a year to not exercising over that period. If you choose the first option, your body will be strong, your energy vibrant and you won’t even notice the daily physical struggles (like stairs; my mom is 61 years old and she dreads climbing the stairs to the bedroom). If you choose option #2, your body will be flabby, stairs will be your mortal enemy and each additional movement will look like a chore.
Imagine the long term results and immediate change will be easier. I have a sweet tooth. I’m a sweets addict. I can easily eat 300 grams of chocolate in one sitting. Fortunately, I also went through the experience of shedding off 15% of my body weight and I know very well how costly chocolate bar is for my body. My inclinations to indulge to my sugar cravings are much smaller now.
Another shortcut to health and time management are habits. They save you making decisions because they work on autopilot. At the same time, they preserve your decision-making time and willpower needed to make a decision.
When it comes to “I don’t have time,” you don’t want to start a pissing contest with me. I am as busy as it is possible: full-time job, a family of five to take care of, 2-3 hour commute, and a function in church community… I’m also a personal development junkie (I spent about half an hour a day on journaling alone) and I have a side hustle which involves at least 2 hours of writing, editing, and marketing. This is just an outline, I can fill the gaps with more activities.
The point is that despite my busyness I still manage to drink a couple glasses of water every morning, do a series of pullups and pushups, jog a few hundred yards, eat healthy, and register what I consumed any given day… I have a time for health in my schedule because I built habits for that.
I don’t have to think about my health most of the time. I go to the toilet the first thing in the morning, then I immediately head to the furnace room and do a pullups series on the edge of steel doors. Next, I go to the kitchen and drink a glass of water and fill the second one which I drink during my morning ritual. I run to the train station instead of walking that gives me some exercises I need in busy and sedentary schedule. On a way to/ from work I run each staircase I encounter. I avoid elevators. I’m often the first at the office, so the first thing I do when I arrive is a series of pushups on a basketball. If I’m not the first, I do a series of pushups in the restroom during the day.
I have similarly beneficial eating habits. I rarely eat out. I bring my own food from home to work.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
I eat at least once a day a vegetable or fruit. That is if I eat at all. I also eat habitually fast. Every Friday and usually more often I don’t eat the whole day.
The habit to which I attribute a lot of my newfound health is reading the labels on foods. Every time I am about to buy a new grocery product, I read the label first. In 80% of times, it’s the last time as well because the label looks more like a work of insane chemist than food ingredients.
The art of developing good habits
Enough boring you with my routine, it’s time to develop yours. Nowadays science knows much more about habits than 20 years ago, but developing habits, especially complex ones is still more of an art than science.
Not everything that you want to do consistently can be fit into the scientific definition of habit: that it is a simple neurological loop that consists of three parts—a cue, a routine, and a reward.
Yes, this mechanism underlies every habit, but its simplicity is enough only to explain the simplest behaviors, the same that animals have. All in all, habits are stored in basil ganglia, the primitive part of a brain that is common to reptiles, birds, and mammals.
Some habits can be explained that way and you should take advantage of that. It’s especially true about some eating habits. They are integrated with your bodies so you can adjust them by using the cue-routine-reward system.
Take for example my habit of gulping a glass of water immediately after my pullups series in the morning. The cue is simple, I’ve just come off the steel doors, and my heart beats like crazy, I am hyperventilating after a short and brutal workout. I am also after a night sleep and my body is dehydrated.
So I go to the kitchen, take a glass from a kitchen unit, fill it with water and still gasping for air gulp it down. That’s the routine.
The reward is this wonderful feeling of quenching thirst.
My morning workout has similar construction. The cue is going out of the toilet after your morning pee. The routine is doing maximum repetition of pullups. The reward is twofold: while working out, I say my morning prayer. Coupling my prayer with workout caused that I have not forgotten about my morning prayer since I started my morning exercise program several years ago. Plus I like the feeling of doing my best and trying to be better than yesterday.
Think about your healthy habits. Which of them could be integrated into this system?
Each habit’s trigger cue is especially important. Consistent triggers cause fast habit development. Circumstances which recur at the same time each day make ideal triggers. That’s why a morning routine works so well for so many people. Your ‘habit’ of waking each morning after a night’s sleep is probably the most consistent activity in your life. This act of waking could become a cue for a whole series of habits.
Charles Duhigg is the author of “The Power of Habit”, in which he explains the science behind habit forming. To learn more, visit this article http://charlesduhigg.com/how-habits-work/
There is also another category, encompassing actions you perform consistently, which aren’t triggered by circumstances or routine. My term for these is Identity Habits.
I am a writer. I have a habit of writing 1,000 words a day. Nevertheless, scientists from MIT could study me for months and wouldn’t uncover any consistent circumstances or loop that trigger my writing activity.
I write in every possible circumstances—at home, at work, on trains, waiting for trains, on the bench at a park… I usually write in English, but sometimes in Polish. You might find me writing at every possible hour—early in the morning before work, during my commute to/ from work, during the day (yes, at the office), late in the evening when everybody sleeps. I generally write on my laptop, but sometimes I write by hand. I write for several different audiences. I write short eBooks, blog posts, Quora answers, articles to magazines, philosophical ruminations, and I’m also writing a novel.
I write because I identify myself as a writer, not because circumstance and routine triggers an electrical impulse in the reptilian part of my brain.
The same goes with healthy habits. You surely know people who don’t eat meat, because they are vegetarian. There are people who don’t drink alcohol, because they are abstainers. For Alcoholics Anonymous members, not drinking is also an identity habit.
So, who you are? Who you want to be? Create your new identity and act accordingly.
Who Is Michal?
Michal Stawicki lives in Poland, Europe. He’s been married for over 15 years and is the father of two boys and one girl. He works full time in the IT industry, and recently, he’s become an author. His passions are transparency, integrity and progress.
In August 2012, he read a book called “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson. It took him a whole month to start implementing ideas from this book. That led him to reading numerous other books on personal development, some effective, some not so much. He took a look at myself and decided this was one person who could surely use some development.
In November of 2012, he created his personal mission statement; he considers it the real starting point of his progress. Over several months’ time, he applied several self-help concepts and started building inspiring results: he lost some weight, greatly increased his savings, built new skills and got rid of bad habits while developing better ones.
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