A very common question that pops into our minds every now and then. We always want to do something for ourselves and only for ourselves, but the obligations of our society keep getting in the way. For some this could be simply taking a walk in the nature every Sunday morning. For others this could be signing up for a midweek guitar or piano class. For some others, this could be starting with their side hustle, a passion project that they would want to explore. Deep inside, we want to constantly improve our lives and be the best version of ourselves, yet many people live their lives pretty much the same way for a very long time. I would call this phenomenon as being “hardwired to our culturescape”. Culturescape, a term used by Vishen Lakhiani, founder of Mindvalley, a global school of 3+ million people, refers to our shared and subjective societal truths that all of us have grown up believing into. To say it bluntly, it pretty much dictates what we should be doing with our lives whether we like it or not. I was a part of this culturescape myself. Growing up to a family of Engineers and Doctors, these were pretty much the only professions I ever knew of. And, I became an engineer. For 17 years, I continued to work in an work environment where I had to work and not because I wanted to. There’s a popular saying in India which goes like this – Every time you pick up a stone and throw it in the air, it will either hit a dog or fall on an engineer’s head. For me, I felt like that dog, who was chained by the neck to his culturescape in believing that this is what he had to do. Yet, I was not brave. I continued to struggle in most areas of my life – be it career, be it health or be it family and relationships. I was stuck in a rut asking myself “Why can’t I find the time to do this?”
What Must I Do Now To Be Able To Find Time To Do This?
We all have 168 hours in a week, each one of us. Let’s take away 12 hours per work day or 60 hours per work week from this. Balance is (168 – 60) = 108 hours. Now, let’s factor in 8 hours of sleep each night, that could be elusive to most of us, but let’s stick with it. Balance is (108 – 56) = 52 hours. Next, let’s factor in our “family and me” times. For most of us this includes everything from showering to eating all our meals, watching TV, reading the newspaper, scrolling mindlessly on Facebook while our kids are finishing their homework, or binge watching on Amazon Prime or Netflix. Let’s give that 5 hours per day, more or less, right? Balance now is (52 – 35) = 17 hours. 17 hours roughly translates to 2 ½ hours per day. We have 2 ½ hours each day, and we don’t know where they go! Imagine every night you put 100 bucks in your wallet, and the next morning when you open it, 11 bucks are missing and you don’t know where that money has gone. When you do this time audit for yourself, you suddenly realize that you do have the time to do whatever it is that you want to do. When I had this realization, it was a game-changer.
Even with this awareness that all of us have, on an average, 2 ½ hours each day to be able to do the things that we always want to do, we will still not do it. Why? Because, as humans we procrastinate. At its core, procrastination is an avoidance strategy. It keeps us from doing the very things that we know we need to do. Procrastination is strongly linked to our emotions and is wired to keep us within our culturescape – “What will my friends say if I enroll for piano classes at the age of 40?” “Is my side hustle even worth attempting?” “What if I fail?” Everyone has a different reason to procrastinate, but every reason points to how we feel first.
Procrastination is more often than not a mask that we wear for fear – fear of getting ridiculed, fear of rejection, fear of success, fear of failure, fear of embarrassment. Simply realizing this fear can help you deal with your procrastination. For me, I decided to take this head-on. I decided to recreate myself. Today, I am a certified leap ahead and human potential coach, an author of 2 books and a TEDx speaker. All of this happened just over a matter of 2 years. If you listen carefully, you will hear a small voice that whispers in the quieter moments of your life. Listen to it and see what it has to tell you. Most likely it will ask you to go against the conventional wisdom of your culturescape. And, if you decide to follow it, your life will be worth your while. It pays to obey your gut if you have the grit to finish what you start.
You Will Never Be Ready! So Stop Waiting and Just Start!!
As André Gile, the French Author said, “A man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Our brains will always convince us into believing that we are never ready. So we often believe that we are not prepared for them and that it is not the right moment. We believe that we are not young enough, good enough, smart enough, knowledgeable enough, etc. to do the things that we always want to do. By being in inaction, we keep feeding our insecurities. There is nothing worse than regretting the opportunities you didn’t seize. Now that you know you have 2 ½ hours each day, or 17 hours each week, don’t let it go waste. Jump on and don’t look back. Start saying “Yes” to Yourself!