When I came across the quote below a few months back, from Laura Vanderkam – author of 168 Hours, it really resonated with me…actually, better descriptions are probably that it “hit me right between the eyes” or that it “shook me to my core.”
Whenever you feel yourself tempted to say “I don’t have time” or “I’m too busy,” try using the phrase “It’s not a priority” and see how you feel. Often that is a perfectly adequate explanation. And sometimes it’s true even if it’s not politically correct. Other times, though, it turns out we’re just lying to ourselves. We do have time for what matters.
– Laura Vanderkam
Simple changes to the words we use can produce profound changes in the actions we take and the lives we lead.
As an example, since college, until August of this year, I hadn’t set a foot inside the gym.
Until I re-framed my words and thoughts in response to this quote from Laura Vanderkam, I’d regularly rationalize to myself that I wasn’t exercising because I didn’t have time or because I was always on the road for work.
All of that changed when I instead said to myself, “I’m not going to the gym because being fit and healthy isn’t a priority.”
That’s much harder to say and it sure didn’t feel great to say…because it isn’t true! Being fit and healthy is a priority of mine. It never felt right to be living in a way that didn’t align with my values, but for some reason, saying it out loud was even worse.
Since embracing this new way of thinking and speaking, miraculously, I’ve suddenly, somehow, managed to regularly make it to the gym, often 3 to 4 times per week. For me, changing the words I used was all that it took for me to change my actions.
While there are still a few areas of my life where I make the “I don’t have time” excuse, mainly around my writing and volunteering (or lack thereof), these are my next targets for change, given how terrible it feels to say that “working on my writing isn’t a priority” or that “volunteering my time to help those who are less fortunate isn’t important.” Because it isn’t true. I don’t feel that way. But if you look at how I spend my time, my 168 hours, you’d easily be able to make that argument.
Give it a try yourself, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results…and please let me know how it works out for you!