10 Ways To Make Time For Yourself To Do What You Want Most In Life

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woman making time for herself

If you know what want to do the most in life and manage to make time for it, you're one of the lucky ones.

Many folks search for years, longing for that clear, burning focus. But if you have it, that’s only the first step. You must find a way to dive in and take action to make your dream happen.

Most of our lives are crowded — family, work, and obligations. Only a few of these are negotiable.

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When I was 41, I was bored to death in my work. My sons were 10 and 13 and I was co-parenting them from two homes with their dad.

I wanted to become an organizational-change consultant, and realized I needed a Master's Degree to do it. Nothing local was available, so I found a three-year distance program two time zones away.

I was excited about it, but it was expensive and the work involved was totally daunting.

My employer gave me some financial support, my ex-husband agreed to take the boys full-time for the three weeks each year when I needed to be away, and I gave up all hope of a social life or ever sleeping in.

Even so, it was at times a terrifying amount of work. I adored the learning, and the new degree got me a great job. It was one of the smartest moves I’ve made.

It took time and commitment, as well as the good fortune of support from those around me.

If you want to know how to make time in your life for what you want the most, here are 10 ways to do it.

1. Define what you want the time for as clearly as you can.

"Write a book" isn’t specific enough. "Become a singer/songwriter" won’t cut it, either.

You need a picture in your mind of what you're shooting for. For example, if you want to become a chef in a restaurant, what kind of chef and in what kind of restaurant?

Is money part of the picture? How much do you want to be making?

"I want to be a fusion chef in a high-end restaurant in the Midwest making at least $70,000."

Or maybe what you most want to do is simpler, like learning to meditate, read more, get in shape, or play an instrument. Define what you want until you have an image in your mind.

2. Ask, "Why is this important to me?"

How will it benefit you and those around you?

Imagine yourself fully doing what you most want, feeling engaged, competent, and enjoying it.

3. Figure out how many steps there are on this path.

Do you need to take a course in order to reach your goal? Do you need equipment? Space? Make a list of exactly what you need and what you need to do.

Don’t really know? Then "research" will be one of your steps. Figure out who to talk to or where to find the information you need.

4. Ask, "What will happen if I don’t do this?"

"Five years from now, if I don’t act on this, how will I feel? What will I be doing? Who will I be?"

Time will pass, whether you take action on this or not. Imagine yourself five years into the future, saying, "I got really fired up about this... But then I let it slide."

5. Commit to your goal.

Decide that you're going to do this, find a way to go about it, and do not give up.

Remind yourself that some things will have to give for this to happen — maybe some sleep, some freedom to veg out watching Netflix, and some money for vacations.

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6. Figure out how much time you need.

Time is so often the crunch. How much time will you need each week?

What are your options for finding it? Sometimes, making a time log helps. Tracking your time for a week will give you a better understanding of how you use your time now. What are your options?

If you're in the mid-career or young family stage, at this point, you may be muttering, "There are no options! Kids need to get to daycare and I need to earn a living!"

There are always options. They may cost you, though. That’s why the commitment step is important.

Can you get up an hour earlier each morning? That’s often a flexible time. Can you organize carpools to give yourself time during the day for a few days a week?

7. Enlist support.

Talk to your family, friends, and coworkers if they may be impacted in some way. Explain how important it is to you, how it will benefit you and others, and ask for their help.

8. Find an image that captures what you want.

Post it where you will see it every day.

9. Take the first step.

You don’t need to have all the answers now, just enough to get going.

10. Pat yourself on the back.

You’re on your way.

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Karen Kristjanson is a co-parent and author of "Co-Parenting from the Inside Out: Voices of Moms and Dads" who supports other co-parents through life coaching and writing. For more, check out her website.