Even though time is an arbitrary, man-made construct, its significance in our lives is ever-present. As a child time passed by slowly. It felt like it almost stood still when I was staring out of the window into the snow-glowing night on Christmas Eve and waiting for Santa to come by with the presents from his workshop in Lapland. Sometimes I was holding my breath out of excitement so long that I almost fainted when he finally appeared. As an adult trying to fit all the responsibilities into a day makes time evaporate in front of my eyes (yes, I’m watching the clock on my computer screen). I still find myself holding my breath – but for a different reason: maybe by doing it, I can slow down time and get more done.
In my leadership coaching and training of executives and managers we inevitably come to a place where we clarify the values my clients say they hold dear and what they really, truly live as their values. I’ve had the heartening conversation with hundreds of clients over the years about the difference between principles, aspirations and values. We adopt the principles for living a good life from our parents and then modify them in our adulthood according to our belief systems. Aspirations are the qualities of life we desire in our work, relationships or life in general.
An effective way to check our values is to investigate where we spend our diminishing resources. The most valuable resources for most of the executives I work with are time and money. I ask them to study their schedule and note where they spend their time and study their credit card statements and checkbooks and note what they spend their hard-earned money, and that’s what tells us what they really value. Not what they say they value.
I’ve seen some of my clients carefully create schedules that reflect their valuing of their friends and family and budgets for their businesses where the development of their staff is prioritized over technology.
A chapter of my life as a mother is ending as my son will be graduating in 2015 and moving into a college dorm. While time has passed very quickly these 17 years, I know I have chosen to be a mother more times than a business woman. Rather than spending my time cold calling, I’ve chosen to cook the family meals so that my family can sit down for a healthy dinner every day. My heart swells with gratitude of the thought of the amount of time I’ve just been me with him.
Budgeting has never been my one of my favorite activities. But what if for 2015, I was budgeting my time and money according to my values more consciously? Would it make time slow down and money grow? Maybe then, at least, I would no longer have to hold my breath. Are you willing to try it out with me?