Monday, September 24, 2012

The philosophy of time scarcity versus responsible contentment

A person living on the philosophy of time scarcity does not realize that they are simply complaining about their own choices and their own lack of understanding consequences.
Most have heard it said that time is one of your most valuable resources. It is very limited.  Each person’s days are numbered.  Time is so precious, that decisions about one’s time are some of the most personal and most important decisions one makes. Some of the most hurtful parts of relationships have to do with how one person chooses to spend their time.
A person living in the philosophy of time scarcity complains that they don’t have enough time (time is scarce).  They feel that they are running a rat race in which they have to get ahead and never can seem to do so.  Several times they feel that “things will get better with just one more activity”.  Or “if I only had more money/time/freedom I would be happier.” So they work really hard to cram as many things into the day, unhappy with the present and always looking toward the future with disappointment surrounding them.
It’s so easy to get into the habit of blaming a lack of time for everything. The truth is that the scarcity of time is not to blame for one’s own choices. One person doesn’t have fewer hours than anyone else.  Reality is that a person can only have so many priorities.  Once the priorities have used up one’s time, there is only so much left for things that are not really priorities.  Those things do not ever seem to happen, even though the person says (and may even believe) that they should.
Here are two examples:
·         Now that I have a toddler, I do not have time to spend with my friends.
·         Because my work schedule is so demanding, I do not have time to exercise.
Next time you hear that statement, translate it to this:
·         Now that I have a toddler, I do not choose to spend time with my friends.
·         Because my work schedule is so demanding, I do not choose to exercise.
Before replying with a smart ass “that’s your own damn fault response”, (even though that is true) think about this: Does that person really want to be “spending time with friends” or “exercising”  more than they want to be caring for their child or excelling in work? Are they just complaining to make themselves feel better about the choices they’ve made?  That person could simply be feeling guilty, but have no intention of making changes in their choices. A person can only truly have a few real priorities.  For example, most people’s priority list includes Family, Work and Religion (in one order or another).  After that, there is not a whole lot of room for all the rest of the stuff. But those priorities are not nearly specific enough to help a person make good choices.  Especially when work and family are pulling one in opposite directions.
Another example of a person living in the time scarcity philosophy is someone who talks of what could have been without realizing that they CAN change what will be.  “If only my line of work was paid better”.  Were you born into your job?  Do you have the choice to work somewhere else if you wanted to?
That complaint is only valid if there TRULY was no other choice.  In most civilized countries, you have a choice what line of work you want to be in, and you probably knew what kind of pay grade to expect when you entered that line of work.  If you are unhappy with it, it is up to you and only you, to change it.
Time spent cannot be taken back.  You cannot return time for a better offer (what could have been). Stop complaining about the choices you’ve made.  If you don’t like them, make better choices in the future.
Rarely are Olympic athletes able to compete in more than one sport.  I can be so much better if I only focus on ONE sport rather than trying to do two and being mediocre at both.
I chose only two priorities.  I am way more specific than “Family, work and God”.  I have two main priorities and everything that is truly important falls within these two priorities:
1.       Give gifts (including but not limited to) 
a.       Spending quality time by traveling with family and friends
b.      Work (If your work isn’t a gift, you should find another job)
c.       Cooking and being hospitable
d.      Volunteering to help others
2.       Spending time outdoors to admire God’s creation, get exercise and be healthy (mentally and physically)
It has taken me a long time to come up with this list, and it changes as I grow as a person.  Choosing those priorities has helped me to feel that I have ENOUGH.  I have enough time to do the things that are truly important.  I am so lucky to have a supportive husband who encourages me to focus on the few priorities that truly matter and not the less important things that do not.
This is what I have found works for me to be content with my time choices.  Next time you find yourself feeling like time is scare; ask yourself what you would give up to have the things you truly want.  And as you commit to things, ask yourself if they roll up to your priorities or not. Be good at few things.  Think through the consequences before making comittments.
Be responsible for your own contentment.