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What we really lack is effort, not time

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We all seem to have insufficient time. Just having 24 hours a day is not enough. We often use time (or rather, the lack of) as an excuse for not doing a whole bunch of things. But we somehow can spare 15 minutes to take the perfect selfie and upload on Instagram; 15 minutes scrolling through our Facebook news feed to watch cat videos; or maybe 15 minutes on Clash Royale to beat our friends and trash-talk them – through Whatsapp.

How about actually meeting our friends, be it the one whose Instagram post you liked or the one who shared that cat video or the one who is just not as good as us at games? Too busy. Packed schedule. Not enough time. More like meeting that person is just not a priority.

Remember the last time we turned down someone’s offer to meet up? Did we really have something important? Or was meeting that someone just not as important as having free time on our hands? This is not to say we should meet every single person who wants to meet us. What I’m saying is that most of us complain about insufficient time. But in reality, what we really lack is the effort, or rather, the desire and willingness to put in the effort.

People around us suffer

What happens when we feel that we are lacking something? We become selfish. We expect others to honour our time at the expense of theirs. People who are willing to give would probably compromise for a few times. But as time passes, they will find out how selfish we are and eventually, they leave. Out of our life.

You see, the funny thing is we don’t realise it. And we complain that we have no one to turn to when we’re upset. The fact is, we didn’t put in the effort (and time) to build the relationships with people who matter, people who are in our lives. All of these stem from our selfishness because of the perceived “lack of time”. When in reality, what we really lack is the willingness to put in the effort.

Because we’re afraid of not getting back anything in return, right? So it’s always easier to just not give a fuck and put in minimal effort. So we just treat people around us as an option, a backup plan even. But remember this: treat others how we want to be treated. If we are going to treat people who matter to us as if they are merely means to our ends, they will treat us the same way, sooner or later.

Set aside time for people who matter

Time is limited. But we’re definitely not lacking time. And like it or not, we are all social animals. We want to feel belonged, be it to our family or friends. In fact, we are the product of our five closest friends (thank you, Jim Rohn) so the people whom we choose to surround ourselves with is indeed very important. People appreciate it if we make time for them, keep our word and are on time. See what I did there?

All of the above involves time but really, the key ingredient is still effort. Taking the effort to mark our calendar, set reminders (learn to rely on memory eventually) and honour their time. All these show how much we value others and their time. How do you feel if someone is on time? Well, I feel good, I feel appreciated, I feel respected. And I’ll respect that person.

But when someone is late? Most of the time, we’d be thinking, “he or she is probably a very busy person.” But think about it, would we be late for an interview? First date with our crush? Watching World Cup? You get the point. Set aside time for the people who matter and they would do the same for us.

Actionable ideas

It’s going to be hard at first. Especially if we’ve been neglecting a lot of our family members and friends, for a long time. The first step is acknowledging how much of a douchebag we were in the past, not honouring their time and cherishing the relationship – people appreciate honesty a lot more than we expect. Next, voice out how and what we intend to do, tell them to hold us for it. That way, our subconscious will be aware of the accountability we have to uphold.

Apply those to every one of our close relationships, the ones we would want to keep for a long, long time. Even if we can’t find five such friends, we have our immediate family members and we can start forming and building new relationships. This takes a lot of effort, but be sure of one thing, it’d pay off. Fun fact: we can apply this to almost everything in our lives.

Stop complaining about insufficient time, it’s really just us giving excuses for not wanting to put in the effort. The sooner we acknowledge it’s an effort problem and not a time problem, the sooner we’ll realise that time is within our control. Put your smartphone away and actually physically interact with people.

It’s never too late to start. But the time is now.

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