We all know about life’s distractions. You go to your 9-5, come home in rush-hour traffic, get something to eat, and sometimes you just want to chill in front of the TV. But your kids won’t let you, will they? And the bills keep coming, and the refrigerator breaks, and your sister is going through some hard times so you want to be there for her and…the list seems endless sometimes.
We often use the distractions of daily life as the reason we don’t change. In reality, this is simply an excuse. Sure, on some days you have priorities that cannot be dismissed. Most days, however, you have time that you have simply made a decision to spend one way instead of another. Often, that’s TV or game time. Americans average 37-40 hours a week of TV time. Then there’s facebook time, gaming time, etc.
The truth is that Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, and Oprah all have the same 24 hours in a day that you do. They didn’t get to be where they are by saying they don’t have time to be the best they can be, by saying that Dancing With the Stars is more important than learning a new language or working out. They made a decision with how they’d spend their time and dedicated themselves to their respective crafts.
You can claim that Jordan was born with prodigious physical abilities and that Gates has an IQ of a gazillion, but these mean nothing without a strong work ethic and great dedication. These people weren’t lucky. They weren’t “in the right place at the right time.” We have a name for such people, lottery winners, and they’re usually back at their jobs in five years or less.
If you want to change your situation, you have to look at how you spend your time. You can spend it chilling out in front of the TV, LOLing at your friends’ pictures of cats on facebook, and shooting up aliens in the latest HALO, or you can decide that your time is more valuable.
As a practical tip, start the first week by not doing anything unusual and just monitoring your time. Track how much time every activity takes you, then add it all up at the end. Then, for the next week, carve out a solitary hour in all of that time and dedicate it to self-improvement. Learn a new language, learn how to write code, pick up a guitar, go for a jog – anything to get you closer to the change you want to make. For my part, I’m giving up online games. I’ve tried before to do this, but I understand change better now and have an accountability partner in my wife.
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of TV. We all need to relax from time to time. But we do ourselves a tremendous disservice when our relaxation is so common that it leaves us no time to grow.