One Question That Can Make You a Time Millionaire

Beyonce cup“When you sit with a nice girl for two hours, you think it’s only a minute. But when you sit on a hot stove for a minute, you think it’s two hours. That’s relativity.” – Albert Einstein

My daughter Lillian, a kindergartner, is learning about time in school. So there have been lots of questions about it – Are we late? What does the 45 in 11:45 mean? What’s a.m.? What does the big hand point to?

Have you ever sat down and tried to explain an old-fashioned clock to a kid? It’s complicated. The short hand, the minute hand, the second hand. There’s an eight o’clock in the morning and then another eight o’clock in the night. And then sometimes, on government-appointed dates, the time changes an hour.

I thought I had a grasp on my personal relationship to time. If you asked me, I’d say I was a late person. Meaning, I’m typically 5-10 minutes late. Naturally, I married an on-time person, and my lackadaisical approach to getting places at the exact time I say I’m going to bugs him no end. He says it’s rude. I say we’re all doing the best we can and deserve a finite grace period. We both have our points.

I didn’t pay much attention to my approach to time, really, except to have some lively (and sometimes heated) discussions about it with my hubs.

Then we had kids. And I got a lot more time-oriented. As in, how many hours did they sleep last night? How long do we have until they’ll be hungry again? When would be the ideal time to put them down for a nap? How can we arrange our day to do something fun and still be home in time for a good night-night? Loosey-goosey was nowhere in sight in the early years of parenting.

Even now that the kids are in school, I’m uber-conscious of how many hours I have to work until it’s time for pick-up.

Honestly, time had been feeling like a noose around my neck, one that had tightened so slowly I hadn’t realized it was starting to cut off my air supply.

Then a couple of things happened. We started talking a lot more about time in our household, thanks to Lil’s questions. And I also read a phenomenal book – The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks. The Big Leap is mostly about how we all have a set-point of happiness, and that when we start to make changes that could move us past that set-point, we subconsciously create all kinds of crazy crap that stresses us out and makes us feel doomed and effectively keeps us at our initial set-point. Five-sixths of the book is all about why it happens and how to finally recalibrate your thermostat for satisfaction, and those five-sixths are truly, stupendously helpful and clear. But then, way at the end of the book, is a chapter called “Living in Einstein Time.”

In it, Hendricks explains that time is not some reality that’s created and managed      by the universe. It’s fake. Man made. Even Einstein said, “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” And that man had done A LOT of deep thinking about time.

Instead, we are each the source of time. We choose how much of it we do or don’t have. I read it and thought, Hmmm, this is pretty cool, but how in the heck does it relate to my daily schedule? I let it in and then consciously decided not to think about it too much, just to percolate on the idea that I am in control of my time.

So what I noticed after that was how many times I say “I don’t have time for ________.” Calling someone back. Watching tennis (which I used to love, pre-kids). Yoga class. Sass from one of my kids.

I said it multiple times a day. I already knew I said it a lot. But what I saw this time around was that, by saying it, I was essentially saying, “There’s not enough time for me to do this thing.” But of course, there is. There is time for anything you choose to do. And that’s the key.

You are always choosing how you spend your time. If, like me, you’re always saying you don’t have enough time, you’re choosing to blame someone else – the clock, the universe, Father time, circumstances, your boss – for the lack of time you’re experiencing. You are saying someone else is in control of your life.

And you know that’s just not true. After all, you have as many hours in the day as Beyonce does. (That photo cracked me up when I saw it on Facebook.) If your kid came in the room right this second with a gushing wound, you would have however much time you need to bandage her up and even take her to the ER if need be. No force, physical, mystical, or otherwise would say to you, “No, you may not have the time to do this.”

Now in the mornings I ask myself, “What do I choose to spend my time on today?” I may not be able to create enough time to cook breakfast, take a shower, do yoga, get the kids dressed and fed and get them to school before the bell rings. But I can danged sure decide which of those things are most important today, and ask someone else to help with pieces of it when they’re all important.

How do you talk to yourself about time? At this point, that’s all you have to ask yourself.

The first step in any change is awareness. You don’t have to fix. You just have to see. The next step magically arises from there. (Click to Tweet!)

For the things you say you don’t have time for, how does it sit when you re-phrase that to say, “I choose not to spend any time on that”?

I had done a lot of thinking about how I think about money, how much of it was available to me, how much of it I was OK with having, how much of it I felt right about charging others. And I can tell you, my bank account has benefitted in big ways from simple awareness and a little re-framing. Now it’s your turn, time. I choose to create more of you too. =)


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10 thoughts on “One Question That Can Make You a Time Millionaire

  1. Wonderful insight, Kate. I chuckled because I married into the same situation. I’m the late one.
    But I figured out why. I don’t like leaving whatever I’m currently doing, and I always misjudge travel times. So sometimes I feel rude leaving a conversation just to get to my next activity.
    But it is one of those habits that is hard for some people and easy for others. I feel like an alcoholic – a late alcoholic. So one of my Christmas presents to my wife was to never be late for her again. We’ll see. So far so good! Haven’t had a late drink once.

    When people say they don’t have time for something, I always say what my Dad said, “You have the same time as everyone else, 24 hours in a day.”

    I’ve also heard of Einsteins definition of time: “The thing you measure with a clock.”

    Thanks for this post.

    1. Hi Rex. Love your insights on to why you’re late! I thought about it too. I think for me, it was a little rebellious. Like, nanny nanny boo boo, Father Time, I don’t have to play by the clock rules. I can aim for a target but if I miss it, no biggie. Not exactly pretty, but pretty close to what was going through my mind. I am also a chronic try to fit in one more thing before I go person. REALLY working on that one. That is operating on the belief that there is a lack of time that I must compensate for. The Einstein time concept really woke me up to how that was just perpetuating a time victim hood in me. Ahhh, personal growth. There’s always more to see. And it’s a beautiful thing. 🙂

      I love that you gave your wife a present to never be late again! Brilliant. Plus thoughtful. Glad to have you on board here Rex. 🙂 — Kate

  2. Kate, this is a great wake-up call for me, and I love the idea of starting with our awareness!

    I have been reading you for a while, but have never commented until now…so I had to tell you how much this article resonated with me! Thanks for being here, and for all the wonderful advice you’ve written. It has been very valuable to me, and I wish that I’d stopped lurking sooner 😉

    1. Stephanie! Welcome to the comments section!! Ha ha. So glad to have you speaking up. 🙂 Sorry I’m late in responding. There it is again — that propensity to be late. I am truly thankful for having my relationship to time come into my awareness. 🙂 There’s lots to see, ha. XO, Kate

  3. Great input on time. It is amazing how unconscious most people are about many of your points here. In NLP I was taught the future is a place to plan, the past is place to hold learnings and positive memories (not a storehouse of pain :)) and the present is the place that only exists. All choice and action is in the now. Typically our mind works in four places: the past, the present, the future, and fantasyland. Many of our emotional issues are tied to leaving the present moment. For example, anxiety is created in the future, same with worry. The key is to spend more focus in the present. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Really cool insights, Chris. Funny, that’s the second time I’ve heard NLP referenced in two days. Ookie! Thich Nhat Hanh, one of my heroes, sells a watch at his events and probably on his website that has the word “NOW” in place of all the numbers. So brilliant. That is a watch I can get behind. Thanks for sharing your understanding, I found it really helpful and know others will too. xo, Kate

  4. Kate!
    Such a great post, so helpful. I’ve been working with this time thing for a while, practicing awareness (what do I choose to spend my time on? How much of it? Is this SUPER important, or can it wait until later or be skipped altogether? Etc), slowing down, doing things more mindfully. Where I run into a question though is: I find that when I slow down, when I make more conscious decisions, I have more peace. BUT slowing down means “less” gets done. Fewer things actually get done. Time may have expanded to give me peace, but I ALSO have to make peace with the fact that on some level, slower is slower. Period. There’s no Superwoman in there. And I’m not totally at peace with that yet! There is a part of me that wants to get it all done!

    1. Hey Lizzie!! So happy to see you here and apologies for the late reply. Here’s a question about getting fewer things done — do they really not got done, or do they just happen on a different time table? I think you’ve got to curious about how much really doesn’t get done and what/if the costs of that are. You are probably doing more than you think, and remember to focus on the stuff that does get done, because what you focus on grows. I know you’ve had the experience of getting a ton of things done in a short amount of time. That is still accessible even if you’re not rushing. You can also play with “how seamlessly can I move through a bunch of things without getting to the point that I’m rushing?” Slowing down doesn’t always have to mean moving slowly, you know? I think it’s more about moving with some sense of softness, as opposed to that tight, clenching “must move faster” feeling that rushing has. And it will probably mean sacrificing some things, like hitting snooze a bunch of times in the morning, or playing Candy Crush (man have I been having an affair with candy crush lately). You will have to create some space for you to move a little more mindfully within. Am I making sense? Helping at all? Spurring any other questions?! xo, Kate

    2. Hello Lizzie. I came here and read as I was exploring time. I’m hearing that slowing down is creating a conflict as you experience less getting done. I wonder if you embraced the idea ‘I have all the time I need inside of me to get done what I want done’. how might that support you? I experience spaciousness when I discovered that time is inside of me. I am also curious you say ‘a part of you wants to get it all done’. That implies a part of you doesn’t want to get it done. What if there are no parts of you only a whole you. How would that change your context!

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