clock and city“I just haven’t found the time.”

Wait, is it lost? Have you somehow misplaced it?

Let’s be honest, we’ve all said this phrase at least once. It slips off the tongue so easily. It seems like such an innocent comment, but have you ever really thought about what it means when we say it? What you’re really saying is that you are passive. That life happens to you, and not the other way around. In fact, I tend to use it all the time - it’s a great excuse that gets me out of actually accomplishing anything. That’s really why we say it if we’re going to be honest with ourselves. It’s much harder to “find time” than it is to “make time” or “prioritize.”

You were going to write that story, but you just haven’t found the time to sit down.

You were going to do the dishes and pick up the house, but you haven’t had the time with your busy schedule.

You want to *insert your hobby here* more but you just don’t have enough time in the day.

You’ll help your friend move if you “manage to find some extra time” this weekend.

It seems to me that we’re constantly either losing time, or playing hide and seek trying to find it.

Here’s the truth: we all have the same number of minutes in a single day. 1,440 minutes, actually. I did the math. What you do with that time is your choice. You make the decision - not your boss, not your spouse, not your parents or children. You do. Sure, you have responsibilities, but you make a decision to fulfill those responsibilities. You don’t need to find time, because it’s not something you can lose. You simply need to make a decision on what you are going to spend your time doing.

For myself, this is almost always a difficult choice. I want to learn everything about the things I’m interested in, and I’m interested in nearly everything. I’m also a husband, a friend, a son, and a godfather. I’m  a musician, I’m a writer, I’m a computer technician, an amateur lock picker, a novice computer programmer. I am all of these things, and usually when I “can’t find the time” it’s because I just don’t feel like doing one or the other - it’s just an excuse to do nothing, not an actual state of reality.

Usually, it’s easier to watch Netflix or Hulu than it is to put some work into any one of my crafts. Take, for instance, this blog post. I’ve sat down to write this post probably ten times in the last two months. Inevitably, I find myself browsing Reddit or watching Youtube, or worse, losing myself in the endless scroll that is Facebook or Twitter. I’ve lost hours to Netflix, Hulu, and anything else that can stream content and turn me into a consumer instead of a creator. What’s worse is that most of that consumption doesn’t even fulfill me. It’s just a lot of garbage - the junk food of how I spend my time.

What would happen if I made the conscious decision to cut out all the noise? To dispense with the bullshit that I’ve filled my days with and instead buckle down to do something great? It starts with a choice. I chose to sit down and crank these words out tonight. It’s difficult. I’ve already walked away three times to find something else to do, because it’s not “flowing” tonight (“it” being the Muse, or Inspiration, or scotch - whatever you want to call it). And honestly, I’ve written better things before and I’ll write better things in the future. But I’m committing to sitting down and writing these words.

When I commit to the important things and prioritize my life, somethings beautiful happens. I don’t really miss Netflix. I don’t really get sad about all the garbage I’m not seeing in my Facebook feed. I’m creating. I’m building. And when I focus on my relationships, namely on being a husband, life takes on a new color. I notice things. I put my wife’s needs above my own, and I experience her and our marriage in a completely different way. It’s like living in technicolor as opposed to experiencing everything through grey haze.

I’ve come to realize that life is a series of choices. Sometimes we make the right ones, and sometimes we don’t. But we are never able to not choose something. You never get to be passive. You are always in the process of making one decision or another. I can avoid “choosing” to write, but it just means that I’ve made a choice to watch Netflix instead, or a number of other things I use to distract myself. We have to make time for the things that are important to us.

If you find yourself wondering why your dreams and goals aren’t coming true, why your relationships aren’t quite where they should be, and why you don’t have the job that you want, it’s very likely because you’re still viewing time as something that is given, something that you receive passively. When you stop seeing time as something that is rationed out to you, and begin to see it as a resource of which you are in complete control, you will find that life becomes infinitely more enjoyable. 

You will no longer have to search for time to do the things you love, because you’ll be making time.

Become an active participant in your life. Make the decisions you want, not the ones you are given by default. I’m not saying you should shirk your responsibilities. We all need to do things we don’t feel like in certain moments, and we are accountable to people in our lives, and to the greater good of the community. But time is not something that you can lose or find. It’s something that you manage and control on your terms. Stop searching for time. Start making it.

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About Phil
P.M. Brandvold
Author: P.M. Brandvold
Phil Brandvold is a writer and musician living in St. Paul, MN. When he's not writing novels, short stories, and generally trying to understand life, he enjoys playing guitar, drums, alto saxophone, and singing. He is married to a wonderful woman who puts up with his antics. He is created by Jesus, powered by coffee, and an extreme introvert. You can find out more about him by visiting the "About Phil" page of his website.