"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

4th of 5 installments, from How to Escape Lifetime Security and Pursue Your Impossible Dream

If You’re Going to Invest in Yourself You’ll Have to Steal Time for Your Dreams

continued from previous post


Where does the time go?

The nonproductive Type C: "I don't know where the time goes.”

Once your Mind's Eye takes over: "It doesn't go anywhere; time's in your face all the time! It's knowing what to do with it that counts.

The most familiar macro tool is the to-do list. It's excellent for getting specific small objectives accomplished, but ultimately you'll want to move on because using the to-do list to control your life ends up wasting too much time. Yes, you get the important little things done. But you can't write, “become an internationally recognized screenwriter” on your to-do list. The to-do list doesn't motivate or inspire you because it doesn't deal with goals and dreams, only with objectives. That's why even the shortest to-do list often gets neglected, ignored, postponed, constantly "carried over" from one day to the next. There’s a rebellion going on inside you. Accomplishing the list may satisfy your Accountant, but your Visionary is longing for more and feeling cheated…

As it recognizes the unique power of both his Accountant's and his Visionary's perception of time, our teller's Mind's Eye knows that the yin of Accountant time and the yang of Visionary time are both valid, simultaneous, and equally important in their places and for their purposes. Telling them both that they're correct, and that they can take turns, his Mind¹s Eye negotiates with the Accountant to allow a conservative, cautious amount of time during which the "success dreams" of the Visionary can be explored. Without the Mind¹s Eye's intervention, he was constantly conflicted over his use of time. With his Mind’s Eye’s help and negotiation, he begins to steal time for success, using his Goal Time Work Sheet [described in the book] to carve hours from the twenty-four hour clock and to mine, methodically, the breakthrough energy of the Visionary...

Time to schedule time

No time you spend is more important than the time you spend scheduling your time; and that needn't be more than a tiny fraction of the time available to you. But scheduling your time is doomed to ineffectiveness unless you begin from the reality baseline of knowing what you've been doing with your time, and confronting your own lack of awareness about where your time has been going…

Once your knowledge of your time usage has allowed you to make new goals and objectives regarding the use of time, how in this busy, busy, busy world do you enforce the objectives for yourself? How can you schedule a life that is one, long, endless shrieking, demanding interruption? After all, you can only turn off the phone for so long without losing your illusion of control, and all contact with reality.

How to make '"the clock of life" your clock: the stopwatch

Mercury's contemporary caduceus for taking command of your time is the stopwatch. Here's how you use this magical wand:

You know the clock on the wall will keep ticking away relentlessly until the day has gone by. You even know how it keeps ticking at night--why else would you awaken at 5:59 on your digital bedside clock when you've set the alarm to go off at 6:00? You know the telephone seems wired to that damned clock, life's interruptions seem wired to it, the myriad distractions that flesh is heir to seem wired to it--and you recognize that, as a result, you yourself and your dreams have been wired to the Accountant's clock for way too long. Your world has been defined by that relentless, uncreative clock. You are desperate to realize your Goal Time.

Today you stop the world by purchasing a stopwatch. I suggest buying the simplest one you can find, one that allows you to stop the seconds and restart them, without the other countless modes that will drive you crazy unless you're training race horses. Hang the stopwatch above your computer, your telephone, your work table--above whatever altar serves the god of your career transit dream. Promise yourself that, no matter what happens on that wall clock, you will work on your dream at least one hour before you go to bed tonight.

Or two hours. Try one first, then expand slowly and naturally in the direction of that Goal Time. Keep it as simple as you can and still make it work for you. Using the stopwatch allows you the freedom to write, but also ensures the constant sense of disciplined progress toward the success you’ve mapped out for yourself. Nothing is more satisfyingly inevitable than the achievements that time creates from small, stolen increments. One hour a day is thirty hours a month. Thirty hours a month will inevitably produce results, especially if you've programmed the three parts of your mind effectively to make the best possible use of that one hour. Imagine how quickly a writer marketing his work will move forward, having assigned five hours a week to marketing calls and letters. He realizes that the faster he gets through those No’s, the sooner he gets to the Yes. And it just takes time to get through the "No’s."

If the one-hour-per-day approach doesn't work for your unpredictable schedule, or makes you feel too disciplined, make it a weekly approach. One of my workshop students was having trouble keeping to his contract that he'd put in two writing hours per day. After several give and takes, we came down to the real reason he was having problems: He was leaving his day job in order to be free, and the daily discipline we’d been discussing made him feel enslaved again. I asked him if he'd be comfortable committing to a weekly number of hours, to bringing in his stopwatch to the next session with ten hours on it.

"And I could do them in whatever configuration I choose?"

"Absolutely. The whole idea is to find a way of tricking your mind into allowing you to live by your own clock."

He came in the next week with 10:06 on his stopwatch, and the weeks after with 10:04, 9:56, 10:10. He'd found a way of using the magic wand to give him that necessary illusion of freedom and control combined with the satisfaction of real progress in committing hours to his career transit.

You can get time out on a regular basis by stealing it. Now that you've embraced your career transit and are living the entrepreneurial life, don't forget to give yourself the benefits that your day job employer was forced to give you. Sometimes we are so excited about doing the things we love on a daily basis that we forget to give ourselves a break from them. “I don't need a vacation. My life is a vacation!”

Everyone needs vacations. Most people need them because work is exhausting. The entrepreneur needs them because vacations bring perspective and creative insights that are unavailable under the daily pressures of the career transit. "To do great work," Samuel Butler wrote, a person "must be very idle as well as very industrious." The entrepreneur, as both employer and employed, must schedule his vacations, with alternate dates in mind in case "something comes up" that forces a change. You are accomplishing just as much if not more when you "go away for the whistle" and allow your mind to play.

Buy How to Escape Lifetime Security and Pursue Your Impossible Dream: A Guide to Transforming Your Career on Amazon

Read 5th installment

Read If You’re Going to Invest in Yourself You’ll Have to Steal Time for Your Dreams from the beginning.

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