The concept of ‘me time’, is usually thought of as having time to yourself when you can sit with your feet up in a quiet relaxing place with a cup of tea (or your beverage of choice). But I want to re-invent it. I want you to think of it as spending time doing something your passionate about.
A lot of self help books are about changing your life. The idea behind mine is about keeping your life exactly as it is, but giving it purpose.
And you give it purpose by doing something that you really care about, if only for a short amount of time.
But we don’t do it do we. So we have that frustration eating away at us throughout the day. Long commutes become more frustrating, boring meetings become more annoying.
And the most common reason we don’t do the thing we want to do more than anything else? Because ‘life’ gets in the way.
The trouble with ‘life’, it will fill our days if you let it.
I spoke to a retired man recently who had been looking forward to retiring because he could spend time playing the guitar. But now he was retired, was he happily strumming away? No.
A friend told me that they had a idea for a book and they were going to spend an hour on Saturday and an hour on Sunday writing it. I spoke to them a couple of months later and asked them how the book was going. They hadn’t even started it.
‘Life’ will fill your life if you let it.
But I believe if you can spend a small amount of time (yes, twenty minutes. How did you guess!) every day doing something you love, you will feel more alive and those dreary parts of your day will become more bearable.
Nietzsche said, ‘He who has a why to live, can bear almost any how’. Of course, it’s easy to have a ‘why’, what’s hard is spending some time doing your ‘why’.
And that’s the reason I have chosen twenty minutes as a time slot. Fifteen minutes is too short and half-an-hour, can feel to much of a effort. The trouble is we want to do our ‘thing’, but our inner procrastinator, keeps trying to stop us starting. But the beauty of twenty minutes is, you set the time on your phone and your inner procrastinator feels happy because there’s only twenty minutes before you can get back to the important job of checking up on social media, sharpening pencils, tidying up your desk etc.
What is interesting is, after doing your twenty minutes you’ll have got your brain engaged and you’ll just want to carry on. But whether you carry on after twenty minutes or not, the important thing is to stick to twenty minutes every day (including the weekend).
We spend too much time focusing on the goal — “I want to write a book”, when really we should be focusing on the path — “I want to be writing a book”. If we focus on the goal it can often be off putting and we never start. The idea of running a marathon can be a daunting prospect for most people, but thinking “I really enjoy running, I’m going to run every day.” feels much more achievable.
I believe that to make you feel happy and fulfilled the journey is actually more important than the destination.
Of course if you start writing a book, you want to finish it and it’s important to have that goal, but it’s the day to day writing that will give you true satisfaction.
I’ve always wanted to write a book. I finally got round to it and wrote ‘How To Be Creative’, but it didn’t quench that thirst. I told myself as it was self-published it wasn’t a proper book. I felt if I could see my book on a bookshelf in bookshop, I would feel like I was a proper writer and I would be happy.
But when I did see it in a bookshop, it was great, but I still didn’t feel satisfied. Now this thought came into my head, that I wasn’t a real writer because it was non-fiction, what I needed to do to be happy was to write a successful novel.
I realised I would never feel fully satisfied. If I wrote a bestseller novel, the voice in my head would say it didn’t have critical acclaim. If I won the Booker prize, the voice in my head would say, its not the Nobel prize for literature. If I won the Nobel prize for literature, the voice would say, well, it’s not the Peace Prize, is it.
So if you want to take the first step on your journey to fulfilling your purpose, here are some guidelines (the polite name for rules):
1. On the first page write down how you feel about your passion project and why it is important to you.
2. At the top of the next page write the date and ‘1’ signifying the first day of the challenge.
3. This thirty day challenge will help create a habit, but if you can complete it at the same time every day this will also help.
4. Use a timer on your phone, so an alarm goes off when you have achieved your twenty minute goal. This will stop you checking the time and let you focus completely on your project.
5. After each day, write down if you completed your twenty minutes and any thoughts you had about it. Was it hard, was it easy? Did you carry on for longer than the twenty minutes? How did it make you feel for the rest of the day?
6. Even if you don’t manage to complete your twenty minutes one day. Write an entry for that day on what stopped you completing it.
7. If you find it hard work, still put the timer on and try to spend twenty minutes thinking about your passion project or looking through books and reference material relating to it.
8. If you are finding you are coping successfully with the challenge, it may be tempting to extend the time you spend. Don’t. Even if you routinely carry on for longer than twenty minutes, what is important that you do at least twenty minutes every day. Extending it, even to half an hour, may make you miss a day.
9. Try to keep to the challenge every day, including weekends.
10. At the end of the thirty days, please email me to let me know how you found the experience and if you have any questions throughout the challenge, please feel free to email me as well.