There was this one day at work when I started to draw again.
I love to collect beautiful journals and art supplies. And, for most of my life these things sat like lonely kids waiting for their mother to play with them. Then before I left India, I felt compelled to actually put them to use.
My first drawing was of a bunch of simple flowers in a pot which symbolized for me different relationships at work and how I could grow them. It expressed something stuck inside me.
At one time in my life, I’d sit for hours and draw. It was my habit. I loved to create things. And, then somewhere along the line, I dropped this habit and the energy that came with it.
Instead, I chose to hold a severely anxious mind that drove me almost like on autopilot through business school, to countless 60+ hour work weeks, and to taking on way more than I could handle. And, it was so easy because my habits allowed me to drain my time and my energy and make my mind unpeaceful.
The power of familiarity is incredible.
When you don’t pay attention to what your habits are, they can lead you to places you don’t care to be. And, if you start noticing their power, you see where you going and can choose to move in a direction you love.
And, your habits are much broader than you think.
It’s not just about doing yoga every day, getting your hair done, or waking up at the same time. They include things like your recurring thoughts, worries, conversations, and mindsets.
Here are the 7 habits that opened up my world and stopped my obsession for finding time and energy.
This is an immediate win. It seems impossible to really meditate and not find more time and energy. It expands your perception and allows you to gain instant space in your mind and access to positive feelings. And what’s in your mind flows into your external environment.
It’s easy to put yourself in a box and think that time exists in only one way. I certainly did this for a loooong time. Here’s a secret. All along your perception has been defining it. If you check, you’re setting limits based on what you experience. If you’re always around people or situations where there’s no time or energy, it’s easy to understand how you’re feeling the same way.
2. Talking Things Through
If you could’ve looked inside my mind, you would have seen a major jam of unexpressed thoughts, feelings, and many worries. When your mind is full of that, it squeezes out time and drains your energy. It would be shocking to summarize the space all these things take up, not to mention, the bad feelings they bring.
Finding ways to get these thoughts, feeling, and worries out in the external world is crucial. For me, it started with writing and drawing about them. It was a safe place without any risk involved. I also had the luck to be assigned an external coach at work so I had a new outlet. Later, I got familiar with this type of sharing with close friends.
3. Doing Time Studies (aka Due Diligence)
I came across this book many years ago called 168 hours. It’s basic premise was that you only have 168 hours in a week. It encouraged you to step back and track how you really use your time and to layout how you’d love to use it.
In my old career, I did financial due diligence for Mergers & Acquisitions. This mindset came in super handy when I started to dig into how I was spending my time. I gathered many insights including how limited my time was with friends and family and the complete gap when it came to spirituality. With this new perspective, you know where you need to turn things around.
4. Following Right Role Models
For the longest time, I thought that my spare time reading was meant to be cozying up with the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, or all those work white papers which could make me really smart. When I hit the wall with my anxiety, a beautiful book and set of role models entered my life. It was called the Art of Happiness at Work by the Dalai Lama.
One thing led to another and I started reading about and spending time with peaceful people.
Your habits naturally change when you’re paying attention and admiring people who mindfully spend their time and energy. The more attention you give the more benefit you receive. This is nearly impossible when you’re rushing around with everyone else and have no one to guide you through the chaos.
5. Clarifying Values
When you value something, you find it important, It compels you to take action. Because peace is a top value for me, if I can see an activity will be in line with that, I do it. I’ll make time for going on a meditation retreat and I won’t make time anymore for working 12 hours a day in a stressful environment.
Being clear on your values allows you to see your choices and decisions become easier. This means if we had a conversation right now you could easily share with me your top values. They would be something you’re super familiar and use all the time.
If you can’t do this, you may find you’re missing the reason why you’re doing what you’re doing right now. If you’re struggling to find time and energy, it’s likely there’s a disconnect.
You may be spending your time on things you don’t value so your time is taken and your energy is low. So, doing values work will guide your decisions going forward so this doesn’t continue to happen.
Each of these habits meaningfully impact the experience of time and energy in your life.
So, there’s a question to ask yourself.
Just suppose you could embrace one of these habits. Which one would have the most impact?
I encourage you to pick one and start gaining familiarity now. It’s the only way it’ll become a habit and easy for you to do. Please share what you picked and why that one stood out to you.
And, feel free to pass this along to your friends. Everyone deserves more peace of mind.