When was the last time someone said to you, “So much has happened, I just didn’t have time to get to that yet...”? No matter what the actual time delay – hours, days or weeks – they are sending you a clear message about their priorities, personal time management and generally how they approach life.
Many people commonly give this excuse, or something similar, without thinking about their personal accountability for not delivering. Depending on what the un-done activity was, the lack of follow-through could be quite impactful to others involved.
Let’s explore an alternative response to a similar situation...What if the offending person said, “I’m sorry, I just didn’t make time to do that”?
While it might be a little awkward to read, and feel even stranger to say out loud, this approach is more accurate and truthful. No longer phrased as an excuse, this is a genuine apology that earns credibility and deserves respect. The person is accepting and admitting that it was their choice to spend time doing something else instead.
There is a simple and powerful message I've heard for years during yoga classes with Kurt Johnsen. He provides this insightful reminder: “People often complain that they don’t have enough time, but the truth is we all have the same amount of time. It’s not a lack of time. It’s a lack of priorities.”
We each are individually responsible for creating our own chaos, or limiting it to achieve the balance we want in life. At any moment, you can choose to reassess what is most important to you, and make different decisions about how to spend your time. Or you can make the exact same decisions. Whatever works best to deliver against your personal and family priorities.
For instance, prior to the coronavirus lock-down, were you (and/or your kids) scheduled for so many activities in a week, that you had a very small amount of downtime? Did you always feel stressed by having so much to do? Typically, we all had (and still have) a lot of responsibilities and commitments to juggle. But who made all of those decisions that led you to a time-starved lifestyle?
Sometimes it can feel as if life is dictating our schedules, but we must remember that we are ultimately in charge of our choices. In psychology, a person’s belief about how much power one has over his own life is known as a Locus of Control. This drives so much about how each of us approaches life.
Someone with anexternal locus of control believes life is controlled by fate, chance, or other external factors. Generally, things happen “to” an externally-driven person; the world happens around them, and they consider themselves either lucky or unlucky.
Someone with aninternal locus of control accepts personal responsibility for making choices that lead to the outcomes in his life – both good and bad. This internally-driven person does whatever it takes to reach his goals, and to get what he wants out of life.
As the coronavirus restrictions begin to ease, please remember:
1) You always have responsibility for your personal choices and outcomes. This includes your own response and actions in response to these (and other) challenging times.
2) Be gentle when interpreting your perceptions of the actions of others. If you see someone making choices you would not, remember that you do not know what circumstances they are facing that may be driving choices different than yours.
I love your perspective! I’m looking at what I want to be and do going forward. I don’t want to let myself down by putting my priorities in the wrong place.
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July 19, 2020
I strive towards that internal locus of control, but this is a great reminder. Especially when so many of our daily activities have been shaken up during this pandemic – but managing our own response is the key to dealing with it.