Today over coffee, a friend commented that she doesn’t know how I find time to go to the gym every day.
I replied, “It’s because I value exercise and my health.”
And what happened next made me realise something. The rest of our conversation went like this.
“I wish I could go to the gym at lunch but I’m so busy,” she replied.
“Are you really busy?” I asked?
“Well yeah, I have this project I’m working on, and back-to-back meetings, and I can’t get through my emails.”
“Would anything happen if you were away from your desk for an hour?”
“mmmm, I guess not.”
“So what you’re really saying to me is that you value sending emails over exercise?”
“Well if you valued exercise more you’d being going to the gym at lunch.”
“I do value exercise.”
“Ok. Well why do you send emails during your lunch break then? What do you get out of it?”
“I don’t know. I guess…I like…being available. I like people feeling like they can depend on me. I always get the job done, you know?”
“So you value being needed?”
“…Jeez, maybe. Does that make me a shit person?”
“No way. I used to be like that too. But then I decided I didn’t want to depend on others to make me feel worthy. And I learnt that work is meant to be an extension of who we are. Our work shouldn’t define us.”
“I’d never thought about it like that before.”
“Me either. So I started looking for ways to feel fulfilled and centered without others. Which is why I started going to the gym every day, cooking healthy meals and writing.”
“Ok, you’ve made your point. I’m going to go to the gym tomorrow at lunch.”
“Haha. Great. Just do whatever makes you happy.”
So next time you find yourself saying I’m so busy I wish I had time to…. Stop.
You have exactly the same amount of time in the day as everyone else. Instead, ask yourself what do I value? If you really value something you will always have time for it. If you don’t have time for something maybe you don’t really value it, or maybe you need to rethink your values.
Featured image is ingredients for banana muffins on a kitchen bench. Image by Rachel Kurzyp.