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What if time was not a constraint?

Some of you may be familiar with this speech by Alan Watts where he discusses ‘What if money was no object?’

The idea is to get people thinking about what they are really passionate about, and would love to do, and questions such as these are many times used, by coaches like me, to make our clients explore such options and dream big.

However, as a coach, we also come across clients who are not able to make out time for healthy habits like exercise, meditation etc and often times the excuse for not making any positive changes is the lack of time.

Now, consider the adage that time is money. Putting the above two thoughts together, one can pose a question as to what would happen if time was not a constraint. Suppose you got double the amount of time in a day (48 hrs), what would change; which happy habits will you eke out time for? Will you spend more time with your family? And if you plan to spend, say 4 hrs with family, in a 48 hr day; can you at least keep aside for the family 2 hrs in a 24 hr day?  Thought experiments like these can be powerful levers for change.

I developed this line of thinking, when I came across a post yesterday, on Facebook by Scott Barry Kaufman (whose website just got a fabulous new design), where he was grappling with a thought experiment at 1 am in the night: what if we lived 1000 yrs; at the deathbed would we say life flew too fast, or instead that it felt like forever.

While I have my own take on what we might say on the deathbed in that condition, this also prompted me to ask a different, but related more powerful question. What if instead of asking our clients of ‘how they would re-prioritize their life if they had cancer and had only 6 months to live‘ we in addition also asked ‘ What would you really do, if time was no constraint and you were to live for a 1000 years’. Would you invest more in relationships, would you slow down your hyper career focus, or would you invest more into things that only bear fruit with a lot of investment like caring for a child?

Each person will have a different take and that would provide them with additional insight into what they want to do in life and what their real priorities are.  By playing around with their time horizons (cancer/ 1000 years) as well as making them sensitive to their daily experience of time (48 hrs vs 24 hrs) one can trigger powerful insights, in the client.

So what are you waiting for? Think about how your day will change if there were 48 hrs in it and also how your life priorities will change if you were to live 1000 years; and, if you feel like, leave, a line or two, in the comments regarding the same. Maybe this little exercise can lead to a real transformative insight.

The six styles of procrastination

I recently resolved to blog more frequently on my leadership and positive psychology based blog, Flourish Mentoring (the one you are reading), and an internal goal I had set for myself was to blog each day if possible. Like all procrastinators, I typically end up blogging just before the day is ending (to meet my internal deadline/goal) and like all procrastinators I sometime miss the deadline too:-) / or end up doing a poor quality job!!

I keep a to-do list of topics/ ideas on which I would like to blog, so its not the case that I have run out of ideas; however one thing or the other pulls me from writing earlier in the day (for e.g. today was a weekend and I had enough opportunities to write something during the day).

The reasons are myriad and so today when I came across ‘It’s about time: The six style of procrastination and how to overcome them’ by Linda Sapadin and Jack Maguire, I could immediately see a connect. I could see each of the styles playing a role in my procrastination in one way or the other. But before we go there, lets recap what the six styles are (picked form this lovely resource for students [pdf] :

The Perfectionist : You’re overly concerned with not meeting high expectations; you work so hard you never finish (or, sometimes, never start).
The Dreamer: You’re great at planning and scheming but frustrated by the practical reality of sitting down to do hard work.
The Worrier: “What ifs” get in the way. You avoid making decisions, resist change, and are fearful about the unfamiliar.
The Crisis-Maker: You enjoy the last-minute adrenaline rush and tell yourself you work best under pressure.
The Defier: You rebel against external deadlines and expectations. You might be overt about this, or you might exhibit a more passive-aggressive kind of defiance.
The Overdoer : There’s too much on your plate because you can’t say no or set appropriate boundaries. As a result, there’s never enough time to do it all.
To elucidate the above let me apply to my daily blogging goal.
1. The perfectionist: The perfectionist in me delays starting the blog-post as I have uncompromisingly high standards as to what depth a blog post should have and that it should not be trivial or of little use to readers; as such I continue ruminating if my choice of topic is good enough and typically do a lot of reading and thinking before starting with the piece. Perhaps instead of being obsessed with getting each post loved by the readers, I can be more experimental and learn from which posts failed and couldn’t make an impact, and so be less choosy while putting my thoughts to paper.
2. The dreamer: Perhaps the dreamer in me dreams of writing great blog posts regularly and can conceptualize in abstract what the impact could be, but when it comes to the hard work of researching for the post or articulating in lucid words, that practical stuff involving putting your ass to the grind, seems to be a stumbling block. Perhaps I wait for inspiration to strike; while getting on with the mundane job of researching and writing is all that is required.
3. The worrier: The worrier in me worries what -if the readers reject my post and neither share nor comment, neither praise, nor criticize, but just ignore it? This fear of failure perhaps prevents me from writing as frequently as I would wish to! Perhaps I am dragged down by the fear of what-if  the blog post is not a success; perhaps the way out is to reassure oneself that even-if no one reads right now, I would have created original content that would be found useful by someone at some time or the other.
4. The crisis- maker: the crisis maker in me loves the opportunity to prove myself , yet again, at the 11th hour; writing close to midnight, under the tight deadline of an unforgiving and departing day, is much more fun than writing earlier in the day.  This is the typical ‘I enjoy working under pressure’ attitude; perhaps the antidote is to indeed try writing earlier in the day for some days and see how it goes.
5. The defier: I hate external authorities and controls and rebel against this self -imposed guideline of writing daily, which feels more like an external command. So I rebel and postpone writing a  post. Perhaps the way out is making peace with the fact that its my commitment earlier to write more frequently that got me here and that I need not battle my own earlier decisions but can negotiate the writing frequency if daily writing feels overwhelming.
6. The overdoer: Perhaps I have so many blogs (The Mouse Trap, at The Psychology Today etc ) and competing demands on my time that I can actually find no time to focus on Flourish Mentoring blog. Perhaps I need to cut down or prioritize on what is really important.
The above is just a sample; I could have, with ease, applied the same to my another long standing procrastination example: not writing my nonfiction book (listed in my CV (of failures) ).
You should also do the same; try to see which all procrastination styles you use, occasionally or regularly, and you may be surprised at what you discover. But then don’t get disheartened; there are tools and methods to overcome that procrastination and as coaches we are there to help!