I’ve yet to meet someone who says, “I have oodles of discretionary time.” Rather, most of the professionals I work with struggle to get everything on their overflowing “to-do list” done. When we do the work to identify what success means for them, they are sometimes confronted with the reality that there is dissonance between what their day-to-day looks like and what they would want it to be.
This dissonance can feel quite discouraging when faced with the reality of the current situation. They look at their already overbooked calendar and are confronted by the fact that they have no time to begin to move in the direction of their vision. Often, I hear one of two responses. The first is resignation, “I’m stuck.” The second is a calculation, which comes in the form of, “I’d have to quit everything and start over” or “I’ll have to wait until I retire.” Fortunately, there is another way. I call these micro-experiments, small shifts you can make to begin to build momentum.
This may begin with finding 1 hour a week. This could be one meeting that you can decline or delegate to someone else. This might be a task that can be deferred or delegated. This may be a matter of organizing your work in a different way. In any event, we’re looking for 1 hour that you can dedicate to furthering your vision for your life.
What kinds of things have my clients used that hour for?
- Working toward a professional certification
- Volunteering for a cause that is important to them
- Exploring a side hustle
- Writing a book
Each of these examples were long-held dreams that these individuals thought had to wait until they no longer had such significant responsibilities. But, by making these a priority — even just for an hour a week — three things happened. First, they regained a sense of authorship, an understanding that they could make progress toward their goals right now. Second, this small investment in their goals gave them a big return when it came to the energy that they found themselves bringing to their work. And, finally, in many cases, they were able to build momentum, expanding beyond 1 hour a week as time went on.
Important to this practice is to schedule this time on your calendar. Make an appointment with yourself and treat it as sacred as the other important meetings that fill your day. This is your commitment to yourself. Some of my clients choose to schedule it for the first thing Monday morning to set their week off on the right foot. Others schedule it for midday Wednesday as a way to reset and reinvigorate for the rest of the week. And yet others schedule it for the end of the day on Friday, their way of closing out the work week and moving into the weekend. It may take a bit of trial and error to find the day/time that works best for you.
I’m looking forward to hearing how you’ve carved out your hour and what you are using it for.