3 Ways To Radically Rethink Your Relationship With Time

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We live in the age of stress. Life is filled with plans, tasks, and errands. Notifications pop up on our phones, telling us we should do this or respond to that. Each day becomes one long to-do list. Time can become a great source of anxiety, and so naturally we're always looking for ways to better manage it and make better use of it.

But I believe there's a fundamental problem with this view of time. I like to say time is like water: It simply flows, and we flow in it. We can't control the water; the only thing we can control is our experience of it.

If you want to "have more time," consider the following ways to reassess what this really means. Our relationship with time is about much more than just getting things done; it's about meeting the needs of the soul. Acting from your inner wisdom is the only kind of productivity that matters.

Know your purpose.

The best reason to do something is not to cross an item off the list but to express your deeper purpose. What were you put in this world to do, and are all of these various actions filling up your time contributing to that greater purpose?

If you're not quite sure what that means in your life, try this practice for accessing guidance at the level of the soul—what some call the Divine. Settle into a peaceful place with a pen and paper ready.

  1. Breathe deeply and set your intention. Start with several deep breaths. Let go of tension and stress. Prepare to connect to your inner self who is always guided by the Divine, whether that means the higher version of you or another higher being.
  2. Reflect. We enact and express our purpose all the time. Think over your life, focusing on what you do best. What were your childhood dreams? What were your talents as a teenager and as an adult? This will help you home in on the essential qualities of your being. Write down your thoughts. 
  3. Pose the big question. Now ask, "What is my purpose here? What am I meant to contribute?" Allow the question to expand in your heart as it seeks to be answered through the grace of the Divine.
  4. Begin to write. You may feel thoughts and sensations rising. When you are ready, let them be expressed on paper through writing or drawing. Do not stop; just keep going until you feel you've finished.
  5. Distill your observations. What wisdom can you perceive? How is it relevant to what you think you "should" do? Highlight the key insights. Then write a clear statement of what you will do now that you have this wisdom.

You should always strive to live according to your own authentic purpose and priorities—not distractions or other people's expectations.

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Balance doing with being.

"Doing" is not the only thing that matters. We are also meant to simply "be." When you're accustomed to the productive busyness of doing, just being can sound useless or empty. But in truth, being is just as lively and specific as doing. Each soul comes imprinted with a unique signature blend of states—values such as freedom, beauty, truth, and joy—that define your soul's distinct essence. These are ways to be, not things to do.

When you're swept up by trying to create or access a specific type of future, your actions come at the expense of your peace of mind—and frankly, a chaotic mind is never a "productive" one. But when you understand both your purpose and your intended states of being, your experience of life is transformed. Your focus and energy are continually channeled toward fulfillment. When all actions point toward your purpose and the stillness is spent in states of conscious being, time becomes a less meaningful or constraining construct.

Replace "trying" with surrender.

Perhaps you've had the experience of trying and trying to make something work without any luck. The problem is in the trying! It is through surrender, not effort, that we achieve our desires and fulfill our highest purpose. When we surrender, we instantly improve the quality of our daily experience.

What does it mean to surrender? When you know your purpose and your intended states of being, your free will flows in alignment with what the Divine intends for you. Once you've taken action, you can let it be, knowing you've done the best you can. You can surrender the outcome, letting go of your worries, your timelines, and your concerns about "how life should be."

How will you know you're on the right path? Life is responsive in nature. While it won't always be clear to you why your life is unfolding as it is, and certain moments may be stressful or confusing, you can take comfort in knowing that life is always providing you with whatever you need in order to grow. When you understand this, you can relax your need for control and trust in Divine guidance and wisdom.

Living consciously and flowing into life can transform your relationship with time. You'll find that when you swim with the current, you won't waste effort trying to force things to happen in a certain way or at a certain time. You learn to set your plans and intentions, and then let go and allow the "how" and "when" to unfold organically. Instead of worrying about "having more time," you can simply flow through life awake to what is happening, secure in the knowledge that you are guided by something greater inside you.

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