Until you take ownership for your life, you will always be chasing happiness.
— Sean Stephenson
The only thing we can truly own is our time.
And yet, we’re so keen to disavow ownership. If we wake up too late to have breakfast, we’ll say “I don’t have time to eat.” If our friend wants to meet up but we have a meeting, we’ll say, “I don’t have time to see you.” It is so easy for us to say “I don’t have time” that the reflex becomes a deeply held belief—that time is something we don’t have.
The truth is, time is the only thing we have. Not to be nihilistic, but everything else in our lives is transient. Jobs, homes, relationships—none of it is guaranteed, even if we’ve signed the papers. Things change. But when they do, time is the only resource we have with which to transform that change.
Taking ownership over your time is a difficult, daily process. We have to overcome years of cultural programming to truly start understanding what it means. But it starts with shifting your language.
Rather than saying “I don’t have time,” pause. Think about what decisions you made that led to not having time in that moment.
An example: I woke up too late to have breakfast before a morning meeting. My instinct was also to say, “I don’t have time to eat.” But in that moment, when I realized what I was saying, I took a moment and looked at the decisions I made that morning.
What actually happened was, when my alarm went off, I slept in. I made a decision to sleep longer, because I felt that I needed it. I had been up too late the night before because my partner needed emotional support and it was more important to me to be there for them than it was for me to get to bed on time. I made a decision to be a supportive partner.
Notice how the judgement falls away. When you say, “I don’t have enough time,” you’re at the whims of the universe, in a passive role. When we accept and own how we spend our time, we’re saying “My time is my own and I will spend it on the things that matter to me.” It is a tremendously empowering tool in our toolbox as we change our relationship with time.