There’s A Simpler Way To Get What You Want
I want to share a conversation that I have a lot, with all sorts of people, at every level. And it goes something like this:
“I have this standing meeting at [insert inconvenient time]. It just doesn’t work for my schedule/chronotype/other responsibilities. It’s always a struggle to get there in the first place, and when I’m there, I’m always multitasking.”
My first question is always: “Does this meeting have to be at this time?”
And the response is something like:
“Well, it’s not my meeting; I’m not the organizer.” Or “There are so many people in this meeting; I can’t ask them to move it just for me.” (Subtext: “I would feel bad/selfish for asking”)
Now, you tell me, if you look at your calendar right now, do you see a meeting that fits this description? And have you had those same thoughts about moving it, or rather, being subtly resentful of it every time you see it on the calendar without trying to figure out if there’s anything you can do about it?
If so, I want to share with you a mindset you can use when you’re faced with a situation like this. I want you to remember: “You don’t get what you don’t ask for”. (Or, if you’re a sports person, you can think of this as the advice of “you miss all the shots you don’t take”.)
Is it scary to ask for what you want? You bet, it is.
Should you do it anyway? If you’re interested in using your time in a way that feels good to you, then yes.
Will there be some discomfort in asking for what you want? Yes, probably. (And if there’s not, please come tell me your secrets!!)
Will it be worth the discomfort? Yes, I think so. The upside is that you might just get what you want. (And even if you don’t get what you want, now you know the answer, and likely the reason. So at least you can stop ruminating about it.)
Is there a way to ask for what you want that will give you the highest chance of getting the outcome you’re looking for? There is!
And it’s to use the language of experimentation rather than change. Why? Everyone’s willing to experiment (or at least, they’re not willing to say they won’t); but it’s the rare person who gets excited about change.
What does this look like in practice?:
“Hey, I was wondering if we could experiment with moving this meeting to Thursdays at 2pm (or “a bit later in the day” or “a bit earlier in the day”, etc.). Would you be open to trying that for a few weeks? If it doesn’t work better, we can always go back to the old schedule.”
See? That doesn’t sound too pushy, or self-centered, does it? If someone said that to you, would you be open to experimenting, or would you try to shut down the suggestion right then and there? I’m willing to bet it’s the former.
Now, this calendar example we’re talking about? It’s just one example of something you might not realize: you actually have more control over your time than you think!
So often, we look at our calendars, our obligations, or our schedules, and we think: “There’s just no room here; nothing can budge; how can I make any time for the things I want to do, outside of the things I’m obliged to do?”
But actually, you do have agency. And you can make changes.
If you’re not sure how you’re going to ever get the time you desire, start here:
- Do a calendar audit. Figure out what you’d like to remove, reduce or rearrange. Then start suggesting some experiments or making some asks.
- Look through your task-list and decide if there’s anything you can stop doing. Maybe it doesn’t have to be done by you? Delegate it. Maybe it doesn’t have to be done at all? Let it go! Are there things on there you do have to finish, but you don’t have to volunteer for in the future? Note that now to protect your future self.
If you’re staring down a big long list of “someday/maybes” and hoping that one day you’ll find the time to devote to these goals, I have some news:
You won’t find the time. But you can make the time.
You can start small and keep iterating. But you can do it.
As much as we’d sometimes like to believe that we don’t have any agency over our own schedules and time, that we’re beholden to what’s on our calendar, that we’re at the whim of our boss, our parter, our kids. It’s not actually true. And if you choose to believe you have no control, that your time is at the mercy of everyone else, then you’re not to blame, right? It’s not your fault that you have no time. It’s everyone else’s. Sometimes, that chaos feels a little too much like comfort.
You have more control than you think. You just have to let yourself wield it. You have to experiment. You have to ask for what you want. And you might have to get uncomfortable to do it.
But, it’s a short term discomfort to solve a long term pain. So, I know what I choose. How about you?
Wondering how else you might take back control of your time? I’ve got you covered.
Just click HERE for my free guide to the 8 Actions You Can Take Right Now to Own Your Time.
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Originally published at https://www.alexishaselberger.com on August 8, 2022.