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3 Reasons You Are Lying To Yourself When You Say ‘I Don’t Have Enough Time’

3 Reasons You Are Lying To Yourself When You Say ‘I Don’t Have Enough Time’

“I don’t have enough time” is clearly the greatest lie a human can utter in his or her lifetime. I can preach all day on how everyone has 24 hours, and it all boils down to how you use it — but you’ll probably ignore my advice. It’s okay. After you read this article, you’ll know why you are actually lying when you say that you don’t have enough time, because I’m going to lay out three reasons to prove it.

You don’t track time

Tracking time is probably the greatest thing you can start today that will help you improve yourself. How you use your time relates closely to how you fuel your self-growth. Those who track their time are those who have a good grasp on what they are capable of doing every day so, it’s easier for them to optimize their actions. There are many techniques and applications you can use to track time, but my two favorites are the time-blocking technique and Rescue Time.

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Not enough time? Track your time and you can see what kind of activities are sucking your hours away. Act on that, and you’ll have even more time in your life.

You are wasting time on non-beneficial things

Every few days, Twitter and Facebook soak up a billion hours of ‘spare’ time. Where did that time come from? What did we do before social media was here? Weren’t we busy five years ago? – Seth Godin

The quote above captures eloquently the reason you claim that don’t have enough time. Time won’t tell you if what you are doing is beneficial or not. It’s up to you to be aware of it. But sometimes, we’re aware that we are filling our time with meaningless activities. An example would be mindlessly using social media and watching TV. Don’t get me wrong: Social media and TV can be good catalysts of change, provided the content is good. But I believe you know that’s often not the case nowadays.

Let’s take the example of using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Do you think that you’ll get any benefit if you fill your time reading pointless status updates? Wouldn’t it be great if you used the time to do something more beneficial — such as reading a book or watching TED Talks — and posting about what you’ve discovered? By doing that, you are improving yourself and using social media wisely.

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To avoid wasting time on non-beneficial activities, you’ll need to act with purpose, and create something out of your consumption. You’ve seen how you can tackle the first 2 points, and now you’ll learn how to create something out of your consumption. Consumption is simply the taking in of information, and creation is the act of doing something as a result of it.

You don’t set priorities

Seth Godin, a brilliant author, said that those who claim “I didn’t have time” are actually saying “It wasn’t important enough.” Think about it. If you really inspect how you manage your time, it’s all a matter of priorities. There are two problems with most of us in terms of setting priorities: we either have little or too much priorities. Rarely do I meet people who have focused priorities.

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So, here are action plans for the issues on priorities:

Find one thing you think is the most important for you to pursue in life. Don’t find two, three, or more than that. For at least a month, focus only on achieving that one.

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Conclusion

If you read to this point, you should now know why you are lying if say that you don’t have enough time. Now, reflect on how you use your time. Track it, optimize it, and make sure to focus on one thing at a time.

Featured photo credit: TIME by Fabiola Medeiros via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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