"There aren't enough hours in the day!"
I'm sure you've all heard and/or used that common complaint. I read an article this morning about how difficult it is to "have it all." The piece was called: "Can You Have It All - Sleep Included?" by Dr. Michael J. Breus.
"A thriving career. A house with 2.5 kids, the average. Time to exercise. A vibrant social life. A great romantic relationship, whether married or not. And you sleep like a baby at night for a full X-hours, whatever you need to feel like a million bucks the next day. Is this possible? Is this a total fantasy? I'm not trying to state the obvious or beg the obvious answer. My gut feeling is that having it all, including sleep, is a tall order."
[Well, of course, many of you who know me know that I feel that in this day and age, anyone who strives to have "2.5 kids" is latently suicidal anyway, but that's not the subject of my post today.]
Yes, I have heard so many complaints for so many years from so many people about not having enough time to work, play, love and rest, let alone pursue self-actualization in an intensive self-work process. Simultaneously, people have frequently asked me how I managed to have a full-time career as a psychotherapist, a full-time avocation as a writer, a full-time love relationship, with kids, and still be able to religiously take naps during the day and watch "Boston Legal" at night. And play tennis or go for 2-hour health walks regularly!
My answer has always been the same: "There are so many hours in a day, more than enough to do everything you want to do."
The response to my answer has mainly been something on the order of: "Bullshit!"
So, I devised a little exercise to prove my point, and only once in the past decade has it not had the same surprising effect on the person willing to do it. Today, I'm passing it on to you.
Here we go:
Start out by writing down the number of hours in a week. (I'll save you the time, since you seem to think you need it - it's 168.)
Now start subtracting: the number of hours you spend sleeping, eating, including shopping and cooking the food, working, including travel to and from work, doing household and kid-related chores, personal grooming, exercise, etc. If you're like most people who've done this exercise, you'll end up with a bunch of hours you can't account for. This shocks many people. I usually say at this point: "Those are the hours you spend obsessing about your life or engaged in compulsive activities or rambling through the forest of your character defenses."
The eyes of the recipient of this information at that moment are wide. It's a powerful moment of realization to face how much time is eaten away by the resistances of one's ego, resistance to embracing life fully. Still, as disheartening as it may be initially, it is ultimately freeing to see the reality of one's situation and eliminate that feeling of being victimized by time.
Check it out. Take the test. You might be surprised. Perhaps it may give you pause to pause.
Now, about that person who did the Time Budget exercise a few years ago and actually came out with a negative balance? Well, when she took the test, she was a mother of 2 little kids, working at an executive-level job she had to commute to, during a major renovation of her home, married to a man who never did any cooking or cleaning around the house, and she didn't have a full-time nanny or cleaning person! However, she did include in her unbelievable schedule enough time for individual, marital and group therapy on a weekly basis. And guess what? Today, she's no longer in that job, or in that house, or in that marriage, and although she has a cleaning person, she is plenty busy raising her kids, writing on her own blog, and engaged in both artistic and spiritual pursuits, while in a loving relationship with a man who does all of the cooking! And she never misses Boston Legal!