This week, I had quite a few conversations with creators around the idea of time. The general consensus seemed to be: There’s not enough. I have too much to do — which, by the way, I wish I’d done ten years ago — and there’s too little time in which to do it. Frequently when I hear people say this, I want to agree with them, so they know that I sympathize. “Oh, I know, isn’t it true? There’s just not enough. There’s too much to do. No wonder I can’t get to my (fill in the blank — novel, artwork, yoga, relationship).”
Here’s the thing, though: It’s not true that there isn’t enough. Whether we’re talking about time or money or love.
What we really mean when we say “There’s not enough time” is: I’m trying to outrun my painful thoughts about not accomplishing enough. I’ve got to hurry up. So let me add more and more to my to-do list, so I don’t see more evidence for what I haven’t accomplished. If I can get it ALL DONE, I’ll feel better.
Do you see how backwards this kind of thinking really is? (Because, fellow creators, it doesn’t come down to time — it comes down to our thinking. Always.) The thought “There isn’t enough” creates feelings of urgency, anxiety, sadness, regret. In a nutshell, fear. Then we take desperate, urgent, anxious actions based on these feelings. And no matter what results we get, they don’t feel like enough, because all of these results have, as their backdrop, the belief that there just isn’t enough. We’ve cycled right back into our original thought, and it all continues — no matter what we have, no matter what we’ve created, it isn’t enough, because our belief is that there isn’t enough.
Unless: We look at our thoughts about time. Is it true that there isn’t enough? How much time do I need to feel good about creating today? To feel good about anything today?
I’m going to suggest that the “time issue” is not about time at all. It’s really about our stressful thought that, at some point, our lives will be over and we won’t have done what we wanted to do with them. It’s really about our lack of self-acceptance, about the fact that we’re afraid to meet ourselves, to accept ourselves, exactly where we are. It’s about a belief that there’s a finish line we should have crossed years ago, and we haven’t even made our way to the starting gate.
What if we were to believe that what we need more of is not time, but acceptance — of ourselves, of our lives, of where we are, who we are, now? How would we move forward from that belief? If we are okay exactly as we are, my hunch is that we are more likely to create for thirty minutes today and celebrate that, rather than wait two years for the day when we have a block of six hours to create.
As my awesome mentor Jenna Avery says, “Start small and start now.” What we really fear is not that there isn’t enough time, but that we won’t accept ourselves if we don’t live up to our perfectionistic standards, if we don’t do more, more, more. Do me a favor: do less. Write for fifteen minutes. Sketch for fifteen minutes. Dance for fifteen minutes. And do it today. It takes no time to accept yourself exactly where you are, right now.