The following is a guest blog post by Gale O’Brien, a cancer survivor, author and motivational speaker.
How you spend your time is critical to creating an exceptional life. I learned the value of my time after I had children. I made the decision to leave my job and take five years off to raise my two sons during their formative years. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I struggled with time later on in my life. Here’s what got in the way: perfectionism, control, beauty, people, and a need to be busy.
Have you dedicated copious amounts of time and attention to your work and your life to maintain high personal standards? Has your passion for excellence driven you to go the extra mile, never stopping, never relenting until you’ve done it right. We spend an awful lot of time with our insistence on dotting every ‘I’ and crossing every ‘T’ which breeds inefficiency, causing major delays, stress overload and subpar results. What happens when we get carried away with perfectionism? We become disgruntled and discouraged, even depressed, when we fail to meet the impossibly high standards we set for ourselves, making us reluctant to take on new challenges or even finish tasks we’ve already started. The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists. It rewards people who get things done.
Are you a control freak? Have you wasted time and emotional energy on things that are beyond your control? This is a recipe for frustration and misery. Some forces are just out of our control. Consuming yourself with the negative aspects of a circumstance is a waste of time. However, if you look at the circumstance productively and positively, coming from the standpoint of “What’s my next best move?” you put yourself back in the driver’s seat.
What about beauty? I’ve spent hundreds of hours sitting in beauty salons getting my hair cut, colored, highlighted, straightened, trimmed, and even more time getting manicures, pedicures, facials, brow waxes, lip waxes and massages. You name it, I’ve had it done in a salon. Trying to look like someone else is a waste of your time. In this crazy world that tries to make you look like everyone else, find the courage to be yourself.
In his book, The 4-Hour Workweek, Timothy Ferris says, “Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is often a form of mental laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.” Busy people are rushing all over the place, and running late half of the time. They are heading to work, conferences, meetings, social engagements, etc. They barely have enough free time for family get-togethers and they rarely get enough sleep. Their busy schedule gives them an elevated sense of importance. However, it’s all an illusion. They are like hamsters running on a wheel. Have you been guilty of busyness?
Friends, family, coworkers, colleagues, even acquaintances can eat up your time, especially if they are toxic people. Toxic people drain you. Be smart when it comes to spending your precious time with other people. In creating an exceptional life, start associating with people who are likeminded, focused, and supportive. Socialize with people who create energy when they enter the room versus those who create energy when they leave. Reach out to connected, influential individuals who are aligned with your dreams and goals. Seth Godin wrote an excellent book, Tribes, on finding a tribe and working together to make a difference in all of our lives. We are the sum of the people we spend the most time with. If you hang with the wrong people, they will negatively affect you. However, if you hang with the right people, you will be enriching your exceptional life. I encourage you to leave a comment, sharing with others the changes you’re making now in how you spend your time.
Gale O’Brien is a cancer survivor, author and motivational speaker. She is also the founder of Passione Per L’Arte blog and The Healing Blog: Creating an Exceptional Life. For more information about Gale’s book, Transformation: Creating an Exceptional Life in the Face of Cancer, visit http://www.amazon.com/author/galeobrien.