A few weeks ago I read about a very interesting strategy that we can all pretty much apply to every task on our plates. It goes something like: instead of saying “I don’t have time” say “It’s not a priority” and see how that resonates with you. This is definitely something that sparked my curiosity and when I started to say this, it really helped me understand the difference between prioritizing and procrastination. We’ll examine today how this strategy can impact the way you choose organize each day (including exercising or lack thereof) and how this may help to take some of the pressure off of you to “have it all” all the time.
Think about all of the moments that you get asked to do something or are invited somewhere and you respond with the usual “I don’t have time for that”. Sometimes you may end up feeling guilty for missing out or angry for being so overloaded with things to do. Going forward consider these as times when you can “exercise you no muscle” and focus on the tasks, work and activities that you really must get done such as projects at work, taking your kids to their extracurricular activities and getting to bed at a decent hour. You don’t have to accept every offer that comes your way, whether it involves going for drinks after work with colleagues, participating in community events or taking educational courses. Yes, it is important that you challenge yourself by learning and trying new things/activities, but if you are already feeling overwhelmed, overworked and like you are being spread too thin, then take the pressure off of yourself and remember that it’s not a priority and that’s ok. You don’t have to do every single thing all the time, so don’t let yourself feel guilty for turning down opportunities. For the longest time I thought that I should be “out there” more and taking part in all kinds groups and events, but now I realize that I only really benefit from this if it’s something that I genuinely enjoy and that fits into my schedule, otherwise it’s just a chore. Once you prioritize your must-do list, add in a couple of things that you really want to do like trying a new restaurant with your significant other, taking a fitness class or joining some kind of club. For me this meant joining a book club, taking a hot yoga class on Friday evenings and occasionally meeting up with friends for a good meal during the weekend. What I have realized from this, is that we’re all pretty much in the same boat, we all have obligations that take up a lot of time and that we don’t need to have a booming social life on top of everything else. Stay in some nights and take it easy, curled up on the couch in your jammies … it’s good for the soul (for more info check out my previous post “Taking time out for you”).
Now let’s look at how the phrase “it’s not a priority” can shed some light on the ways that you may be procrastinating on the things that really should be part of your daily habits. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people say that they want to workout and get in shape, but they just don’t have time. If this is you, say to yourself right now that working out and exercising is not a priority, basically owning up to the fact that taking care of your body and your wellbeing is not important to you. As harsh as this sounds, let that sink in for a moment and really think about what this means. Your body is meant to move and be strong, by taking fitness out of the equation you are letting your body weaken and become frail not just now but as you age as well. There is always a time in each day that you can set aside to move around; think about how much time you spend sitting in front of the tv or on social media or reading some online article or gossip site. Like I’ve said before, break up your workout into three 10 minute increments throughout the day or workout out while watching your favorite tv show at night or take a power walk on your lunch break if you have one. You can easily find time to be active each day, so stop overthinking it and get to it! And don’t wait to find some workout buddy or someone to reach out and hold you accountable, instead remember that you are only accountable to yourself and you have to take the initiative as scary as it may seem. This also holds true for getting adequate sleep at night or having a healthy meal, as in “I don’t have time to sleep eight hours” or “I don’t have time to cook dinner so I’ll just order a pizza instead”. Switch that up to “it’s not a priority for me to get a good night’s sleep” and “it’s not a priority to eat a healthy dinner”. It sounds pretty ridiculous when you put it this way, in fact this makes it very clear that you’re putting your health at risk and on the sidelines for some quick fix solution that is really no solution at all. Ultimately you’ll end up burning out if you continue to go about your life this way, so wise up and be mindful.
I’ll leave it at that. When you start being really honest with yourself, you’ll start to see that you can make changes in order to reach your goals and live a fit lifestyle. There are tons of free resources and websites where you can get plenty of tips and information for how to workout efficiently when you’re pressed for time, how to prep meals in advance without spending hours in the kitchen and how to finally get a good night’s sleep. Consult with your healthcare provider or consider meeting with a trainer or nutritionist (if you can budget for it) to take a more in depth approach. Stop wasting your valuable time by sitting back and wishing that you are in good shape and active and eating right, while still working and having a social life. Focus on what you genuinely want, what makes you feel good and take it from there. Live your life, don’t try to emulate what others are doing because we are all completely different from one another. So stop putting the things that you really want off to the side and before you know it, you’ll be exactly where you’ve always wanted to be.
Start It, Finish It