Into rewriting a deleted post.
Jokes aside, we do ask ourselves this question a lot. At some point or another in our lives, we are bound to stumble across this question. Errands, work/school, responsibilities snag our time and what they leave laziness and procrastination eat up. What’s left? A sad image of us scratching our head late at night saying, “where did the time go?” Even worse, a panicked version of ourselves at the end of the year thinking “My God, were did the year go?”
I get it. Well, kinda.
I don’t ask myself this question anymore. And it’s not because I’m better than you or have less stress than you. It’s because of a few things that I’m going to tell you about and yes, one of them is mindfulness.
If you’ve been with this blog for any amount of time you know that I harp on living in the moment and practicing mindfulness. I will never stop harping on it because there are so many wonderful benefits to it. But that’s where we’ll begin today. How did I stop asking myself where the time went? I was more mindful.
I started living my life. This wasn’t an overnight change. It took years for me to get here, where I am today but I did notice an immediate difference. I started living my life. I looked at the sky. Spent a moment watching the sun rise and set. I watched trees move in the wind. Watched tall prairie grasses move like the ocean when the wind rippled across them. I noticed small things, dents on passing cars, wrinkles in people’s faces, body language when friend’s spoke, the smell of coffee in the morning.
It’s important to live in our life. We love to run through errands, rush to and through work, and go through the motions of life. Wait, we don’t? Then why do we live our lives this way? The truth of the matter is that it’s easier to live our life this way, with our brain off. This year especially, I haven’t asked myself once where the time went because I know where it went.
More than living in the moment though, it’s about remembering the little moments and keeping them in our mind. Our minds love to dwell on negative moments and that might happen no matter what. But I like to think that I have control over my brain and by consciously focusing on moments I want to remember, I am reprogramming my brain. This year I’ve had plenty of stressful moments but because I’ve spent so much time really focusing on the beautiful moments I love, I don’t really remember the bad ones.
For example last night I danced around the Christmas tree with my husband. No, not in a sacrificial chanting sort of way though I admit that would be funny. I committed every detail to memory. I focused on the smell of pine tree, hot cocoa, and my husband. I remember the sound of Christmas music and our laughter. I remember the feel of his hand in mine, the cotton of his shirt. I remember seeing him smile, seeing the lights twinkle, the bird on his shoulder. I made sure to focus on the moment and be happy. In the days after something like this, I’ll bring it to mind. I’ll remember it and smile. Then, when I look back on my year, I will remember the happiness.
Our mind takes ques from us. If we focus on the past and on negative moments, our brain will keep those memories and prune others. Instead, if we commit to memory wonderful moments from the present and dwell on happiness, our brain will prune the unused bad memories.
But it’s not that simple. It’s hard to live in the moment and it’s hard to remember everything that happened in a day or year. Another thing that helped me look back on my year and feel like it didn’t go fast was how active I was. I set a lot of small goals (more on that in a minute) and I exercised and created and worked to balance movement and stillness every day.
That activity, moving, getting outside, taking time to workout without my phone, do yoga in quiet on mat, really made a difference. I had all these activities that were not time sinks. I didn’t sit mindlessly in front of TV. I didn’t dawdle and snooze my alarm ten times. This year my alarm went off, I got up and got moving. I got outside practically every day. It makes a difference!
Now, how about those small goals?
Small goals are one of the best things you can do for yourself. I’ll talk more about them next year (ha ha) but for now, I’ll say just a few things. Setting yourself one or two goals a month, or one a week, gives you concrete accomplishments that you’ll remember throughout the year.
We all love to have goals the problem is, we don’t like to have small goals. They don’t feel real. They don’t feel like something to be proud of. Who cares if you ran 10 miles this week instead of your average 8? It’s not a half marathon. It’s not a marathon. Who cares? You should! A goal is a goal no matter how small. Maybe your goal this month is to make your bed every day. Good goal! A goal isn’t measured by perceptions or how big it is. It isn’t measured at all. If you want to do something, set your mind to it and set a goal.
Setting these goals slows things down, especially if they’re in various areas of your life and not just all work goals.
This is the last time, but the thing that might be most important is to understand this:
There will be days you run out of time for everything
And you know what? That’s okay. It only becomes a problem if you are consistently running out of time. Then you have to look at your life. Are you watching too much TV? Procrastinating too much? Are you dawdling and moping around?
But no matter how well you organize your time, there will just be days you can’t do it all. And that’s completely fine. Allowing yourself that room for error is a healthy thing to do. We aren’t perfect. We can’t be. And we are busy creatures and things happen. Cut yourself some slack. It’ll make you feel better in the long run I promise.