Reframing How You Approach Time

Like so many others, I frequently find myself overwhelmed with commitments and pressed for time. I become stressed and can’t stop thinking of the encroaching deadlines at work, upcoming events and plans with friends or family. When this happens I have a tendency to become very rigid and plan out every detail of my upcoming days. I decide when I’ll go to the grocery store, when I’ll eat, when I’ll exercise and more. Although there’s nothing inherently wrong with planning ahead during busy periods of one’s life, it’s important to remember that we never know what the future holds and oftentimes one’s plans may be thwarted and need to change.

In my experience life’s unexpected hiccups and changes often cause me a lot of distress and suffering when I have everything planned out. I find that I frequently resist the reality of my circumstances when the reality doesn’t match my plans. For example, last weekend I spent over thirty minutes lamenting the flat tire on my bike because I wanted to ride my bike to work and felt like I didn’t have time to take my bike to the shop. I ended up spending time sulking and stressing out over the tire instead of just taking my bike to the shop on my way to work. I’ve even noticed resistance can pop up with unexpected, pleasant events, such as an invitation to dinner at my aunts. I have turned down time with friends or family simply because I couldn’t let go of my plans and ideas about how my day would go.

In order to challenge the tight grip I can have on time, I am beginning to explore a subtle shift in my language surrounding time. Instead of planning how I’ll spend my time, I am setting intentions for my time. For example, instead of saying I will go grocery shopping after work on Tuesday, I will tell myself that I intend to go grocery shopping after work on Tuesday. This small change has allowed me to loosen my grip on the future and exhibit more flexibility when life inevitably doesn’t proceed as I thought it would. It’s easier to let go of my projections for the future when I view them as intentions instead of plans. I feel more open to the myriad possibilities of the present moment and am energized by the spaciousness I can find even during the busiest periods of my life.

What about you? I encourage you to see if you can enhance your flexibility by practicing this subtle shift in language.