Some of us are just better than others
This one will make me very unpopular, but the truth is: I am not as productive as Elon Musk. I am not as athletic as Letesenbet Gidey. And I am not as smart as Stephen Hawking. All these people are in some way, shape or form better than me. That does not mean that I am not good. But it does mean that there are people who are better than me. Many people. We are not all the same. Which does not mean we should start treating each other with disrespect. The opposite is true. To respect someone we also need to respect how they are different from us.
And then there are also things that many humans have in common. Many of us have passion projects or other things they would be doing if only they had enough time. This is a common pattern, but if you think about it, it is also ridiculous. Why is it that some people have these perfect productive days, while most of us just spend our time and energy on the same things day after day without making actual progress? The first realization we need to make is that there are people who are just better than us. More disciplined, better organized, more focused. We often feel that someone who spends an hour a day exercising must have more time at their hands, than us, because after all we would exercise if only we had the time for it. In reality however people who exercise make the time to do so. People who are better than us, are not just magically so, or had a fairy godmother come along and turn their lives into this perfect story, we see. No. 80% of the time the people who achieve something we did not achieve are just willing to do the thing we are not willing to do.
Time vs. Energy
An important factor to how good we are at anything is how energetic we are. In athletes this turns out to be most obvious: Athletes make it a point to sleep and eat well, such that they have the most possible energy to perform their best. But many of us treat our bodies badly. I am not saying, we should be following a strict diet, but I am saying that we should have the basics covered in order to feel our most energetic. If you would like some guidance I have a post on it, too.
My theory is that when we say “I don’t have the time to exercise.” what we really mean is “When I do have time to exercise I don’t have the energy for it.” And it is okay to be tired at times. We all are, but if we are so tired that we end up watching TV, despite not enjoying it and having other things to do that we don’t have the energy to do them, that is when we are in desperate need for an evaluation.
Doing what it takes: Honesty
This does not mean, that we can never become someone who is willing to do what it takes, but that will always involve some trade off. The very first step is to be very critical with the statement “I don’t have time.”, because for most of us it is a lovely excuse and it really just means, that we would rather watch TV for a few hours than work on a project or exercise, let’s be honest. And then there is even nice excuses, like “But I have to eat at some point, why not while watching TV?”. There is a few things wrong with that. Firstly this is multitasking and that means we can’t quite enjoy our food nor whatever it is we are watching. Secondly studies have shown that food doesn’t quite satisfy us the same when we eat it while watching TV making overeating, cravings and weight gain more likely. And lastly and most importantly: We don’t usually need an hour to eat if we are not at a restaurant. I know I eat in 5-10 minutes and while that is not healthy taking 20-30 minutes to eat is.
These are just some excuses we find and the most important thing we can do is to start being honest with ourselves. But sometimes, we just need to gather some data. I suggest two things for this: One being to set timers for different apps and websites on our laptops and computers and tracking just how much time we spend mindlessly scrolling. And secondly calendar blocking. This is not the most fun thing, but doing this for around two weeks, will give us a clear indication of how much time we spend on what. Start by blocking out chuncks of time on your calendar for different things. Then as you go about your day, adjust the blocks as you actually spent your time. This way you will end up with a more or less representation of how you spend your time and you get good at estimating how long something will take you. But most importantly it forces you to face the facts.
Doing what it takes: Some easy steps
Now we need to know what it is, we want to be working on. Be it exercise or spending time with someone close to you, petting the dog, or some other project. From there we need to make time for the thing we want to be doing. Look at your calendar, what thing that you do is not adding a lot of value to your days? For many people that is going to be watching TV or the time we spend on social media.
Sometimes substituting an hour of social media after work for an hour of perusing your goal won’t work for you, because you don’t have the energy. In that case it will make sense, to shift your schedule around a little. Try keeping your evening routine, but cut the social media time short by an hour and go to bed. Then get up an hour earlier and peruse your goal as part of your morning routine.
These kinds of shifts require dedication and usually some trial and error to figure out what works best for you, but it will pay off, so stick with it and don’t let life discourage you. Always remember that if you don’t do this, you will have to live with the fact, that you decided you are not willing to do it. It is that simple. Most things we don’t achieve we don’t achieve, because we are not willing to put in the work and make the necessary changes. We are grown ups. It’s on us. And us only. No fairy godmothers. Just us. We have to choose the habits we want to implement. We have to choose which life we want to live. And then do what is necessary, to get that life.
It is possible. There are so many success stories out there. Stories of people who overcame the biggest of obstacles, because they were dedicated enough. I can only speak for myself, but I want to be the kind of person who is dedicated enough to build the life, I want. The life I dream of. I want to become the kind of person who lives the life I want to live. That requires effort. But I am willing to put in the effort. Because I am not satisfied with having dreamed of something but not gotten it, not because it was not a priority, but because I didn’t make the time.