“Future Visioning Your Working Life: 10 Strategies for Getting Ahead”
I stood before the audience at the Holistic Business Summit and said, “I have thousands of unanswered emails. I have a to do list as long as my arm. Seriously, as well as the endless work tasks, I also have all the time-wasting stuff that has to be done like going to the dentist, getting that tire changed, calling up the company that messed up my bill – and so it goes on.”
Not one person looked surprised. Do you know why? It’s because they have a similar list.
On one hand, we need to keep pace with new developments and stay on top of our careers. On the other hand, we need to meet the demands of our personal life. Result? We are on overload.
The Road Ahead – Stretching Time
Early morning. I rushed out of my home as I thought about my punishing schedule for the day. I had a lot to do and 95 percent of it couldn’t wait another day or be delegated. I felt overwhelmed just thinking about it. It simply wasn’t possible to do it all.
I was moving to a new house, with the usual stress and complications that entails. I was about to lose the deal unless I tracked down the people who were delaying the process. After months of maneuvering, my dream home was about to go out the window. I also had a full day’s worth of clients to deal with. They’d all made travel arrangements and I would be letting them down if I postponed their sessions. I also needed to drop someone at the hospital. They had no other way of getting there. I also needed to call someone before they jetted off. They would not be contactable for quite some time.
Yes, I was overwhelmed – and then it happened. I got stuck in traffic.
I had planned to get to the office early, but now my clients were liable to get there before me. As I sat in the stationary traffic, I knew I somehow had to stretch time. Then the answer came to me. I did a mini visualization. You know the type, where if the traffic moves or anything happens, you
will still know about it. Your awareness is still there, but you are in a relaxed state. This was one of those occasions.
I cleared my mind and with eyes open and full awareness I asked the question: “How can I fit everything in today? How can I stretch time, or achieve what I need to achieve, in the shortest time possible?”
I saw what looked like a piece of string, or maybe a piece of licorice. Suddenly it twisted and folded back on itself. I realized this is how we can tap into other time frames, how we can see the past and the future. In the image, time looked like a rolling road, curving and twisting this way and that.
I saw a road in front of me. I knew that road was my day ahead. I could see time pointers: when it would be 10 a.m., then midday, then 3 p.m., then 6 p.m. That was my day ahead. My stomach turned with stress. The day looked impossibly short.
Then the road stretched out as if it were made of elastic. Suddenly, the time till 10 a.m. looked a long way off, midday was in the far distance and 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. were now out of view.
The traffic suddenly moved and before I knew it, I had arrived at the office 35 minutes before my clients. “Logically” that was impossible, and yet it had happened. I made three key phone calls before my first client arrived. I got through to each person straight away and the conversations were brief but effective.
At lunchtime, I picked up my relative and dropped her at the hospital. Somehow the traffic was in our favor and I was back in my office in the blink of an eye. That day, I achievedthe impossible.
Try it for yourself.
EXERCISE: STRETCH TIME
Take a few moments to think about your day and what you need to do. Be aware of any appointments, meetings, anything that you have a time for: 10 a.m. dentist, 11.30 a.m. meeting, 2 p.m. conference call, etc.
Now visualize your day as a road flowing out in front of you. We all have a way of coding time in our brains. Focus on the road in front of you that depicts your day. Imagine the times of key events as little flags along the road, with the time next to them. So, to take that dental appointment: note where it is and stick a flag there with “10 a.m. dentist” on it.
Notice how the timers are spaced out. See where noon is, two o’clock is and so on. Spend a moment looking at that road ahead and plotting out your day. There may be certain things you need to do, but do not have a precise time for, such as answering emails, writing a report, study: slot them into your day where they seem to fit best.
Now look at the road ahead and stretch it way out in front of you; use your instincts as to how far you stretch it. You may see 10 a.m. a lot further ahead, noon may be very far away and 2 p.m. out of sight. It’s up to you. Use your instincts as to how much you stretch time.
Watch the time markers float out away from you as they become more distant. Feel time slow down. You can operate at your usual speed or faster but know that time has slowed down for you. Now you can get on with your day and go about your business, knowing that you have just stretched time.
Once we gain awareness of our frantic pace of life, then we can take back control of it. There is a better way. Sometimes, we just need to pause and find it. When we do so, we’ll also get a clearer sense of both where we are heading and our purpose in life.