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7 Ways You Can Make Time For Your Passion

7 Ways You Can Make Time For Your Passion

“Someday, when I’ve got the time…”

Have you ever said that to yourself? Most of us are great at putting off what we really want to do for someday. When life is less busy, when we “have the time”, when we’ve reached a certain level of income or success.

But the truth is, someday always seems to stay in the near future. We can never quite make it … and we never quite get started following our passions and doing what we really want with our lives.

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If you’re truly passionate about something, you need to get started now. It doesn’t mean you have to quit your job and go for it full-time. It doesn’t mean you need to neglect your family and responsibilities, and it doesn’t mean you need to become an expert overnight. But if you’re truly passionate, you need to carve out some regular time to do what you love.

The key in following your passion is consistency. You need to decide that you’re going to take action, and then take a small step forward on a regular basis. Maybe you’ve always wanted to play the piano. You don’t need to buy a grand piano and play 8 hours per day. Why not start by reading a book about playing the piano? Listening to recordings of expert pianists. Ask a friend to show you the basics. Buy a keyboard and play for 15 minutes every morning. It’s these small steps, done regularly, which will add up to huge results.

The most common excuse I hear about not following our dreams, is that we just don’t have the time. Here are 7 tips to help you make the time to follow your passion.

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Start with a schedule reality-check.

If your days feel completely full and you can’t imagine finding any time to follow your passion, it’s time for a schedule reality-check.

For 3 days, carry a little notebook with you (or use the notepad on your phone) and every 30 minutes, just make a note of what you’re doing.

You’ll probably uncover a few gaps of ‘hidden’ time. Have you ever ‘quickly checked’ Facebook and found yourself surfing aimlessly 30 minutes later? What about watching a few minutes of TV that turns into a couple of hours? These are little chunks of time that can be used to work on your passion.

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Learn to say no.

A completely full schedule can make you feel stuck and unable to follow your dreams. But do you really need to do everything in your schedule? We often take on commitments that we don’t really need to do, and we continue to do them out of habit or guilt. Look back over your schedule from the past month. What items are you really excited about doing and love to do? Those can stay. Everything else should be scrutinized. Do you really have to do this task or can it be delegated? Is there someone who would enjoy that responsibility, or who could do it better than you could? Can you hire someone to do it for you? Is there a way you can do it faster, ask for help, or do it less often? Eliminating even one or two unnecessary activities per month can free up time to follow your passion.

Join a class.

If you haven’t made it a priority to follow your passion before, you might find it hard to stick to your new goal. That’s where a class can be so useful. If you sign up for a class in your interest area, you’re more likely to attend on a regular basis because you’ve committed to a series, and there are other people going through it with you. Plus, you’ll meet other people who share your interests, which can encourage you to keep going long-term. And that leads us to…

Find a Buddy.

It’s easier to stick with a new habit or goal when you’re not alone. Finding a friend who is also interested in the same subject (or even one who has decided to make time to follow their own dreams and goals) can help you stick with it. You can meet up once a week to do an activity together, or even just have a phone call or a coffee to talk about how it’s going for you – and help each other stick to your goals of making time for your passion!

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Maximize your between times.

Waiting at the doctor’s office. Standing in line at the grocery store. Waiting to meet a friend for coffee. There are lots of small bits of ‘between time’ in your day that you can put to use taking action on your passion. You might bookmark sites in your interest area to read during these down times, or a carry a related book that you can read, or even keep a notebook with you to do some planning in these between-times.

Ask for help.

This is a tough one for many of us, but you don’t have to do everything alone. If you’re really serious about following your passion, you need to tell you friends and family about it, and ask them to support you. They might volunteer to babysit so you have a couple of hours to study. Maybe your husband or wife could do the grocery shopping (or another chore) so you have time to work on your passion (and you can return the favor for them later). Telling your family and friends will also open up more connections who share your interests. You’ll never know who they could introduce you to!

Go slowly.

Some people make dramatic changes overnight and suddenly leap into pursuing their passions full-time. For most of us, our ideal life following our passions unfolds slowly, over time. And that’s OK. This slow and steady approach gives us time to learn and become experts, and to grow into our passion. If your goal is to become a television presenter, and you were offered your dream job tomorrow, how good of a presenter would you be? It’s better to learn, practice, and develop your confidence and skills in your new area of interest, continually moving into your dream life, rather than leaping into it unprepared. It all comes back to consistency. So while it probably feels like your dream life isn’t happening fast enough, try to appreciate the journey and be open to opportunities as they arise.

How do you make time in your busy life to pursue your passion? What has worked the best for you?

 

Featured photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/travisrockphotography/6560696273/ via flickr.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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