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If only I had the time. It’s an excuse as old as, well, time. We use it for everything. Working out. Doing the dishes. Calling our friends or parents. And especially anything that might look like work that we could get away with blowing off.

Truth of the matter is that we all share this construct of time in exactly equal parts. Nobody gets a single drop more than anyone else. Put another way, we’ve decided collectively long, long ago that there are 24 hours in every day. 60 minutes in each hour. 60 seconds in each minute. Nobody walking the face of Planet Earth gets it any different.

So why does it seem like for some people that it’s so easy to get it all done? For years I’ve been analyzing this very thing. And while I still don’t claim by any stretch to be an expert, I’d like to share with you some observations I’ve made along the way.

It starts with a little concept called “priorities”, and it’s important to take inventory. Sit down in a quiet moment with a cup of coffee or tea and get to writing. See what it is that matters to you in black and white and then measure how you’re spending your time with what it is that matters to you.

If all your priorities seem outwardly focused (read: devoted to other people and causes than yourself), please remember that you can’t give from an empty cup. So the time you carve out for exercise, meal prep, meditation, etc. isn’t selfish. It’s a pre-requisite to being able to do everything else well.

Once we’ve thought about our priorities, it’s time to start noticing the things that cross our path. Frequently distractions come dressed as opportunities. A distraction is something that, while it might be fun, or even worthwhile, it doesn’t further your true causes. It’s not that time spent on distractions is negative, it’s just that it has to be kept closely in check.

One way I know I’ve veered off course onto the road of distraction is if I start finding myself building resentment. Another clue might be if doing that thing is preventing you from making meaningful headway on your higher priorities.

So it’s very important that we have strong healthy boundaries. In part, that means being able to say “no” when required, and not allowing yourself to get lured or suckered into yet another time sucking situation that’s going to put you even further behind your true heart desire goals.

I call them strong healthy boundaries because not only do we want them to be firm, but kind as well. Many of us walk around with the fear of hurting other people. But we need not fear when we move from a place of love and our highest truth. Just tell the person what is going on with you and stand by your decisions with your head up.

Like Oprah said, you really can have it all, just not all at once. Work diligently and patiently at your goals and watch one by one as it all starts to fall into place. Also, the more you do, the more you can do. So be gentle and take breaks and detours as needed. Life’s a marathon, not a sprint.

As always, I’d love to hear from you and can be reached through my criminal defense firm’s site at www.shanastein.com/contact