In 2017, Rep. Maxine Waters mesmerized us in a congressional hearing with her repeated and confident statement, “Mr. Chair, I’m reclaiming my time.” This occurred in the course of her questioning U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who kept avoiding her questions with extended, gratuitous praise of her to run out the clock.
Allowed just 5 minutes in the hearing, Waters advocated for herself thusly: “We don’t want to take up my time with how great I am.” She persisted, consistently repeating the phrase “reclaiming my time.” This quickly became a rallying cry for a variety of causes and social activism, and it remains so.
It’s also a powerful reminder of the precious nature of time, the essential and non-renewable resource of our lives.
All of us, at various times, allow people, commitments, distractions, or habits into our lives that keep us from what we really love or feel called to do.
Here are some of the things in the past that I have allowed to steal my time. Do any of these resonate with you?
Saying “yes” to commitments because I’m flattered to be asked or enjoy the feeling of being needed. (A solution I found: Learn to recognize those activities that truly feel they are mine to do, and say “no” to the others. This is hard, and so worth it.)
Spending time with people who drain my energy. (A solution I found: Gradually minimize my time with the “energy vampires” and mindfully increase time with those who fill my cup.)
Distracting myself with media or busywork, rather than diving into the creative projects that I deeply crave. (A solution I found: Notice when I am distracting myself, and make a conscious decision about whether to shift gears into generative work, even for 10 minutes.)
Shifting from one “urgent” thing to another, rather than planning in advance for the “important” things to take priority. (A solution I found: Make dates with myself for the time of day I have the most mental energy and concentration and schedule those projects that are pieces of big goals or that give me great satisfaction, for even just mild progress.)
Doing everything myself rather than taking advantage of asking others for help, finding collaborators, or working in community with others. (Solutions I found: Reminding myself to ask, “Who can help me?” and making the call. Finding partners, taking classes, and joining communities of people who support my creative work.)
All the while I was learning these lessons, I’ve been coaching people who find they’ve actually grown beyond the commitment they made to a career that no longer fulfills them, or they are grappling with a growing desire to follow a creative pursuit or a calling to serve others in a new way.
And that’s the lynchpin of the whole equation of reclaiming your time. It’s not to just be more productive. It’s to be mindful about the big picture of what you are actually doing with your life.
It’s a pretty good moment, soon after the turn of the year, to pause and consider – What will you do with your reclaimed time in 2024?
One way to explore that question is to join us for one of our small group coaching sessions:
"How Can I Make This the Year I Launch What I Really Want to Do?" -- Thurs., Jan. 16, 7-8:30 p.m. CT/ 8-9:30 p.m. ET/ 6-7:30 p.m. MT/ 5-6:30 p.m. PT. Are you determined that 2024 will be your time to pursue your passion? Whether it’s your art, a service you provide, or purpose-driven work, join us for a group session with Caryn and me to explore moving from dreams to plans to action. This 90-minute mini-class can give you a framework for creating the year you want to have. You’ll learn from others, plus get guidance on your own situation. Sign up here for $9.99.
"Will Create for Love and Money" -- Sun., Feb. 4, 2-3:30 p.m. CT/ 3-4:30 p.m. ET/ 1-2:30 p.m. MT/ 12-1:30 p.m. PT. If you are on a path toward blending your passion, your purpose, and your livelihood, you’re invited to this group coaching session! If you are an artist, a writer, a creator, or provider of professional or healing services, you may be looking for ways to pursue your calling, for either personal satisfaction or making a living. Caryn and I will provide practical guidance for the journey, along with answers to your individual questions. Register for just $9.99 here.