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Is Time Your Friend or Your Enemy?

Is Time Your Friend or Your Enemy?

Western society promotes being busy at all times and at all costs. As a result, it seems that we are always rushing. We live by the calendar and we are run by the clock. We learn early on in life that you had better be on time for things or bad stuff will happen. Be late to turn in your papers and your grade gets lowered. Be late to pay your bills and you get stuck with a penalty. Be late to finish your work and you may be out of a job.

As a result many people conclude that time is their enemy. It must be battled and beaten. But there is no permanence in any victory over time — the clock gets reset tomorrow and the calendar at the first of the month, or at the very latest at the first of the year.

Consider the popular phrase, “Life is too short to __________.” Here are some beauties you hear all the time:

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  • Life is too short to hold on to regret.
  • Life is too short to work at a job you hate.
  • Life is too short to play small.
  • Life is too short to {insert your favorite here}.

Aphorisms like these certainly imply that time is your enemy. However, time is not the reason why you ought to give up regret, revamp your career, or up your game. Even the shortness of life is not the reason. There is an assumption going on here that entirely misses where the real problem lies.

A short life and limited time would be a blessing in these circumstances. After all, the less time one spends in some undesired state, the better. A short amount of regret? Sounds great. A short time at a crummy job? Excellent. A short time of cowering in the corner? What could be better?

So let me give you a different way to look at things:

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“Life is too long to __________.”

When you approach your problems and challenges from this standpoint, time is not only not your enemy, it is your best friend. It is because of the abundance of time and life that you are motivated to seek change and transformation. After all, since you are going to be here for some time, don’t you want to make the best of it?

When you have a habit or circumstance that needs fixing, imagine what your life would be like if you delayed taking action to fix it. See yourself a year from now with this problem still hanging around. What impact has it had on you? How has it hurt your relationships? What is it doing to you at work? What cost have you paid to your health?

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Now take it out to five years. What have you lost? What have you suffered? What have the people close to you been forced to pay?

Time keeps marching on. It is now ten years with your unresolved problem. What has happened to your faith and hope? How insurmountable does this problem now look? How much weaker are you now than when this problem first arose?

We are far from the end of the calendar. Twenty years go by. Can you even remember life without your problem? Can you muster the energy to even care anymore? Are you locked in to a state of resignation?

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When you consider the impact that leaving something unresolved for a long period of time can heap upon you, you start to realize the value of taking action in this moment. Time isn’t out to hurt you here. It is giving you an opportunity. Some resolutions will require hours or days, some weeks or months. But time is there for you. Take what you need.

Time has no agenda. It will allow you whatever you need. This is not to say that some problems don’t have deadlines. But it is not time that imposes such restrictions. Time will either offer you volume or impetus. It is on your side.

Waiting for the perfect moment is a fool’s errand. You don’t have to be very experienced in life to know the truth of that. Partner with time to get the most out of life. Time is waiting for you.

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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems, why?

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

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The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

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The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

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It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

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For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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