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Dear 'I Don't Have the Time' People: You Totally Have the Time

Saying "I don't have the time to do something" is inaccurate at best, and at worst, a sign of weakness. Everyone has the same amount of time. How we choose to use it determines what we have the time to do.
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Saying "I don't have the time to do something" is inaccurate at best, and at worst, a sign of weakness. Everyone has the same amount of time. How we choose to use it determines what we have the time to do.

I run a mastermind for entrepreneurs, called ShankMinds: Breakthrough. At the beginning of each month, I send out an email reminding people that in a few days, they're going to be billed the price of a few lattes for their membership, and not to freak out when they see the charge from PayPal.

I also make it clear in each email that if they want to cancel and leave the mastermind, I'm not going to try and stop them, and rather, encourage them to do what they feel is right. In other words, if you don't have the time to be an active contributor to our group, that's fine; in fact, you probably shouldn't be. Our group runs best when those in it are actively contributing to the brain-trust being built.

We usually lose anywhere from 10-15% of people a month from this email. which is exactly what I expect to happen.

A few days after the email goes out, I email those who've quit the mastermind, and ask them why. The responses are always the same, and usually float around one key phrase:

" I just don't have the time to participate."

"I don't have the time" has become our new catch-all phrase for everything we simply don't want to do, replacing "I'm so stressed."

Here's the thing: ShankMinds:Breakthrough has over 130 people in it, and the majority of them have found the time to be contributing members, helping others, giving and receiving advice on all sorts of business problems. The average number of messages posted by those who participate is around 30 or more a month. The average of those who quit? About 2-4 a month. Think about it like this: Someone who goes to the gym 4-5 times a week is much less likely to quit than someone who goes once or twice a month.

Yet all of our active members have lives outside our community. Some have families and children, full-time jobs and/or entrepreneurial efforts. Some are active in their community, the majority make the time to work out and eat right, and probably have other activities as well, such as getting in episodes of their favorite television show, or doing whatever they find enjoyable.
So the question is, how come the people who stick around can find the time, while the people who quit can't?

I submit that it's not because those who stick around magically have more time in their day, but rather it's because those who want to be involved make being involved a priority at the cost of something less important.

Look -- I get it, it's not easy. We're busy people. We all are. Every single one of us. But, to use one of my favorite quotes, "we all have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce." It's about what's important to each of us.

"I don't have the time" is bullshit."I don't make this a priority" is a little more truthful.

I decided several months ago that I wanted to get into better shape, and knew that the only time I'd be able to focus on my body was super-early in the morning. As such, I made getting enough sleep to get up early and get to the gym a priority. Something had to give for that to happen, and for me, it was going to bed late. So I don't go to bed late anymore, and for that to happen, I've given up going out to "industry events," and now keep client dinners to a minimum. The result? I'm at the gym at 5am four days a week, and I've dropped close to 50 pounds in the past six months, without compromising other aspects of my life.

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The guy on the left has the same amount of time as the guy on the right. The guy on the right, however, decided what was important and what could be given up to make the switch from left to right.

I decided what needed to be a priority in my life, and what I was willing to give up to do that. Much like calories in/calories out, finding the time to devote to something new means giving up that time somewhere else. It's not rocket science. PS: I wrote about how to wake up early here. Feel free to use it.

If you want something to be a priority in your life, you make the time for it at the expense of something you deem not as important. It's truly that simple.

If you don't want to give up one activity for another, don't, that's fine too, and no one should judge you for it. But saying "I don't have the time" is nothing more than an excuse, because let's face it, you do have the time.

We find the time for what we want to do most.

For some of us, that's working out. For others, that's building our business. Maybe it's binge-watching Netflix, or browsing Facebook for two hours each night. And all of those are fine choices! But each choice comes with a price. Every choice we make has an opposing choice that we have to make as well. If browsing Facebook until 1 a.m. each night is a choice, then the flip-side of that choice is rarely getting up at 5 a.m. to get to the gym in the morning. It's not that you don't have the time to go to the gym, but rather, you made a choice to do something else that to you, is more important.

Each day, you wake up and can make that choice. When making a change, or doing something new, becomes more important to you than something else in your life, you'll make the time for it. Until that happens, you won't.

But don't ever say "I don't have the time." Because, yes, you do. You have the same time in the day as anyone else. What you don't have right now, however, is the desire to give something up in your life to get that time to do something else.

Michael Douglas, in the movie The American President, talks about America, saying that "It ain't easy. If you really want it, it's gonna put up a fight." The same is true with doing something new. If you truly want to grow, whether it's by going early to the gym, or by learning a new skill, or even being part of a mastermind community, then something is going to pay the price for taking that time. It could be browsing Facebook, or watching Netflix, or even going to the bar. The decisions you make each day determine the structure of your time.

You have all the time you need. You always have. You simply have to decide how you want to use it.

When he's not skydiving, Peter Shankman a two time bestselling author and corporate keynote speaker on customer service and the customer economy, and leads a wonderful mastermind community of hundreds of entrepreneurs from all around the world. Thanks for reading, comments welcome and encouraged, either below, or to me on Twitter or Facebook.