The comment below came from one of my dedicated readers. His comforting words inspired me to write this article.
"Congratulations on your one year anniversary!!! In some respects, it seems as though it's been a very quick twelve months. In another respect, I can't believe it's been only a year. I can't always find the time to peruse your blog at the leisurely pace it deserves, but you should know it is always a pleasure whenever I actually find the time. You have entertained, enlightened and most importantly engaged us in your life and the larger world community. Thank you. I pray that you keep up the good work (even though I don't know how you find the time). Peace and blessings to you and yours".
There is not a month that goes by without hearing someone talk about wanting more time in a day. It’s usually a general statement without much explanation. I understand the feeling as life seems to fly by quickly especially as we get older. There will always be 24 hours in a day so we must use that time wisely.
When I probe the issue deeper, it seems the point people really want to convey is wishing they had more personal time in order to do the things they enjoy - or what I call “Me Time”. If you feel you have no time for yourself or choose not to take time, I have a simple two word solution for you:
It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, 15 minutes a day is a good start. What it does have to be is time for YOU and only YOU to do the thing(s) YOU like to do.
It could be as easy as enjoying the sun or nature for a few minutes every day, as bold as having lunch alone somewhere instead of the typical group lunch, as soothing as calling old friends one Sunday afternoon or as involved as finally starting to write that book you have talked about. The important thing is to do it and let NOTHING ……I repeat, NOTHING stand in your way.
Life can often feel like a sprint and we forget or are unwilling to feed our soul. Instead, the focus is on our growing “to do” list or other less important individuals or activities. When you do that, a tiny part of YOU dissolves day after day. Is that a positive way to live a life?
The complication of getting “Me Time” reaches a higher level when marriage and/or children come into the picture. It’s easier to do the things you like when you are single and have less responsibility although the key is to make sure that “Me Time” continues despite how busy or hectic life becomes. I actually enjoy more personal passions now compared to most years and my life is extremely busy with two young children! My wife, kids and job are my number 1, 2 and 3 priorities but doing the things I like is 4-10!
Here is what my “Me Time” involves:
1) Writing my weekly blog or working on my book – Writing is my most pleasurable activity; I enjoy it 2-6 hours every week. Sometimes that involves staying up late or working after midnight. NOTHING will keep me from putting pen to paper as it’s a deep passion and invaluable for my well being.
2) Decreasing Stress – Most people have a good amount of stress with some allowing it to completely take over. I’m no stranger to stress but refuse to let it rip me apart so I do things daily to relieve it. I pause for at least 15-30 minutes every day to do some sort of mind relaxing activity - it could be a walk, short nap, reading or simply relaxing on a bench in a peaceful state. Exercise is a great stress reducer as well. During this time, I don’t allow interruptions and my mind always benefits from it. How many of you do this? The benefits are immense so I encourage you to try it.
3) Keeping in touch with friends and family – I am fortunate to have a mother who is healthy and we talk weekly. In addition, I do my best to keep in touch with my friends (in America, Sweden and around the world) via email, letters or phone calls. These moments are very relaxing.
4) American Basketball Coach in Sweden (ABCSP) – I founded this youth program in 2005 and spend time planning and fundraising on a monthly basis. Young people are very important to me and our global world so I make the time. (www.Gswede.blogspot.com)
Do I experience all the “Me Time” things I desire? Of course not as my family and work life are where the majority of my energy goes. I would love to play golf 3 times a week, write 4 hours a day and have a daily nap but that may have to wait until retirement.
The aforementioned 4 elements make up 8-12 hours a week (sometimes more) of “Me Time” which is the minimum I need to have a fulfilling life. I am lucky to not need much sleep which is another element of life you might consider decreasing to give yourself more time!
In my opinion, there is no excuse to not get some form of “Me Time” in your life as YOU are the only thing holding you back. If something is passionate to you or important for you, you can find the time to do it. It may take baby steps in the beginning to kick start your engine along with the willingness to be consistent (crucial element).
In my experiences, people get held back from their passions due to a spouse, parent, job, TV, computer or a host of others things. A spouse should be encouraging their partner to get some “Me Time”! A job should not rule your life like it does for some of us. TV can be a relaxing tool although it is probably safe to say that most families watch too much of it.
No one can take away your “Me Time” unless you allow them to. All it takes is the courage to act and do some or more of the things you like. Remember, spending a little time on YOU will often make one a better parent, husband, worker or friend. A happier and healthier YOU will shine if you are bold enough to put yourself first. To get more time may require some feelings to be hurt or “putting your foot down” and demanding the time. Do not be fearful if more “Me Time” is something you need. If you don’t act, it’s YOU who will continue to suffer the consequences.
My 2009 kick-off article on the benefits of life is worth reading. The comment at the beginning was a response to this important advice. The title is “Life is (and should be) all about the Benefits”. This can be a productive tool in showing one how to maximize the benefits in life which can provide more “Me Time” and make one a happier and more productive person. The link is below:
While it’s never too late to start one’s “Me Time”, does anyone want to wake up at age 65 and reflect on a life solely lived for others with little or no regard for one’s passions and desires?
Consider this scenario:
You have just retired and dedicated little or no energy towards your personal passions in life. What you are counting on is to be able to do the things you enjoy now that you have more time. You don’t quite know how to approach this new freedom primarily because you never took time for yourself in those prime years.
You go to sleep one evening barely a year after retirement feeling unfulfilled. The next day, you don’t wake up.
Master your “Me Time”.
Happy Gswede Sunday!
Gswede's sister-in-law getting some "Me Time" at the family summer home in Sweden.