In my last post I talked about all the times I have planned to start a blog and not done so. Why did it take me so long? What was really going on?
Well, I had a little voice in my head telling me, “I will not have enough time.” Not enough time to write posts, not enough time to take photos, not enough time to start a business. “I will not have enough time and therefore will be starting something that I cannot finish”.
I know part of it stems from my parents always starting things and not finishing them. Even today, both of their houses are filled with unfinished projects. My desire to make sure that I always finish what I start makes it difficult to just do it sometimes. Especially when I am perpetually worried that I will not have enough time.
But the real crux of the matter is that I have Time Anxiety, and it has held me back SO MUCH in my life. Perhaps you can relate?
I have been doing a lot better these days at rewiring my brain to overcome these thoughts and I am here to share some of my strategies.
What is Time Anxiety?
Some define it as worrying about spending your time in the in the most meaningful way possible. However, for me, time anxiety is the lingering awful feeling that you never have enough time and/or are not doing enough with the time you do have.
There are 3 types of Time Anxiety:
- Current Time Anxiety, the feeling of not having enough time to get everything done today. It results in rushing place to place, stressing, and generally feeling overwhelmed.
- Future Time Anxiety, worrying about what may or may not happen in the future. It is the What If? ideas that cause stagnation. What if I start something that I do have enough time to finish?
- Existential Time Anxiety, the feeling that time is slipping away. Worrying that I will not have enough time with my loved ones, or that it is generally too late to begin.
It often starts as teenagers, when we are lovingly told to “Stop Wasting Time!”
Kids do not have to worry about time. Teenagers though, they are taught through FEAR tactics to “manage” their time. All while teachers, parents, and extracurriculars are making unrealistic demands on their time and imposing their priorities. It is no wonder this leads to adults having a poor relationship with time. It just gets worse too, it is a double-edged sword.
The more you worry about time, the more time feels like something you need to worry about. You literally wire your brain to worry.
What is Time?
No really, what IS time? Seems like a silly question, right? However, to beat time anxiety we first need to understand what time is. You see, time is a social construct. It does not exist. Humans created it in order to manage themselves within communities. How else would you make an appointment to see your doctor? Just line-up outside their office? We need time.
Therefore, time is a tool. Like a fork. We get to use it, it does not get to use us.
How freeing is that?!
So what can you do to overcome your fears and stop worrying that you do not have enough time? Let’s dive in…
How to Overcome Time Anxiety
1) Realize that YOU are NOT Busy!
It is time to get over the “Oh, I’m so busy and I just have so much to do.” You are not busy. It is just a story you are telling yourself that is leading to stress and procrastination. This was a big shift for me.
You see, YOU are not busy, you FEEL busy. It is an emotion. According to neuroscientist Dr. Sarah Mckay, “Emotions are not reactions to the world. You are not a passive receiver of sensory input but an active constructor of your emotions. From sensory input and past experience, your brain constructs meaning and prescribes action.” This means that you can take control of your emotions by practicing new ones just like you practice anything else.
Try this: Close your eyes and imagine a situation that makes you feel busy. What is happening in this situation? Who is involved? How does your body feel? Where specifically are you feeling busy? Try to get up close and intimate with the feeling. What does it look like? Does it have a shape? A smell? Now, what can you say to it to give yourself a sense of calm? Say this and breathe into it. For example you could perhaps try, “I feel busy in my chest, it is warm; I release busy, and I am calm”. Then feel what is feels like to bring calm into that space, replacing the busy.
You can practice this in advance when you feel like you are going to face feelings of “busy”. Then, when busy feelings arise, you know how to shift them to find calm.
2) Have a North Star
We all have goals, but what is your main overarching goal? What is the one thing that you can aim for that everything else will align to?
For example, my goal is to inspire people to Rise to their Peak Potential.
Ask yourself: “If I had all the money I will ever need, what feelings would I feel? What actions would I take? What would I focus on? What is my soul calling me to do?”
Once you know your overarching “North Star” goal, you can use it to make all your future decisions. It will be easier to lean in and push through those nagging fears when you want to start something new, because you know that it is a stepping stone along your most aligned path.
Armed with this knowledge you will intuitively know what to prioritize and be driven to start.
3) Plan Ahead…
How many unused agendas do you have lying around the house? They always start with the best intentions and then trickle off. It is human nature after all! We are wired to take the path of least resistance, which means not having to schedule things and/or do things at a certain time. Thing is, you do not have to plan your entire life, week, or even day! But you should plan the things that are important.
What is more important than reaching your most aligned North Star Goal? You put birthdays in the calendar, right?
Try this: At the start of your day/week, make a list of all the aligned things that you will get done that day/week. Then, take those things and plug them into your schedule. Anything that does not fit, ask yourself if you really want to do it. Is it in alignment with your North Star Goal? If yes, remember it for next day/week, if not cross it off the list –Yay! Done!
Great! Now you have a plan for the coming day/week, it is in alignment with your North Star, and you do not have to worry about when you are going to get these things done. You scheduled it, so now you know it will get done on Tuesday. Yet, we all know that scheduling it is only half of the battle. Actually, it is probably more like a quarter of the battle. Now you need to follow through. That is the challenge.
…and Stick to It!
First, let’s talk about what happens when we do not follow through. It is no different than every other relationship really. When someone tells you they are going to do something and they do not do it, do you trust their word? No. Same goes for the self, every time you promise yourself you are going to do something and you do not do it, you learn not to trust yourself.
However, the best part is that the opposite is also true. Every time you DO follow through, you learn that you CAN trust yourself. So you have to commit to it and stick to it, which may be hard at first, but eventually it will become second nature as you rewire your brain to trust yourself.
But what about those times that I just want to be spontaneous and do whatever I feel like doing in the moment!?!?
Rubbish! No, you don’t because if you are always doing what you feel like in the moment you are going to be sleeping, scrolling through Social Media or watching Netflix. I am not saying to never do those things, just do not do them during the time you have scheduled for the things you want to get done.
When it comes down to it, you made the choice to schedule the task because it is aligned with your North Star goal, and you committed to yourself that you are going to do it. The committments you make to yourself are the most important commitments to keep!
You Are Not Alone
When you understand that being “busy” is a feeling and you choose to reframe your mindset, when you have a North Start Goal to keep you moving in alignment with your deepest values and wishes, when you know you have a plan on when to get things done, AND you trust that you will follow through, Time Anxiety becomes a thing of the past.
Time Anxiety has held me back from so many things. Not anymore. I would LOVE to help you overcome it as well. Schedule a FREE call today! and we can chat about how we can Rise Together.