At some point in your life, you’ve probably said “I don’t have time for that.”

Maybe somebody asked you to go to a party with them. Maybe you were invited to a group dinner. Maybe someone courageous asked you out on a date to the movies.

There’s a chance you looked at your schedule, saw that your calendar was full, and told them honestly that you didn’t have time for their suggested activity.

There’s also a probability that you just weren’t interested in them or their activity (or both) and you simply told them that you didn’t have time because you didn’t want to be upfront and tell them how you really felt.

Either way, there’s a truth that needs to be said about the saying “I don’t have time.”

Everybody has the same amount of time. But not everybody has the same to-do list.

Time is the one thing that we all share

We all live on the same planet and get to live through the same 24 hours that everyone else gets.

But obviously how we choose to spend that time is different for everybody.

There are certain things that we’re more likely to share with others in the same timeframe. These things are usually necessities, like going to the bathroom, eating, commuting, and working.

And then there are other things that aren’t absolute necessities but we choose to do them anyway. We prioritize them over other non-necessities. Some examples are scrolling through social media, watching TV, playing video games, and reading.

Now I know how some of you reading this might say, for example: “Hey, I absolutely love reading and I can’t go a day without it. It is a necessity for me.”

In this context, the non-necessities that we’re talking about are the things you don’t need for your survival, or things that wouldn’t greatly inconvenience or burden your ability to live. You get my point.

However, even though these things are non-necessities, you still find unique ways to organize them into priorities and that’s how you go about your day. That’s how you choose to fill and spend your time.

Thus, it’s not that you don’t have time.

It’s not that you don’t have time to go out on that date with that guy you’re not interested in.

It’s not that you don’t have time to make it to the group dinner.

It’s not that you don’t have time to go to the party.

You’re just choosing to prioritize other things, whether they’re necessities or not, over what you were invited to. Bottom line.

The problem with thinking that you have no time

In the case of something like rejecting someone you’re not interested in by saying you have no time, yeah, that’s a simple matter of dishonesty. You should be frank and just say you’re not interested. Don’t lie. Don’t lead someone on. Just be straight with them.

But there exists an even bigger issue for people who get in the habit of saying that they don’t have time, and if they believe that they don’t have time to go pursue their bigger dreams or what’s important to them.

When people postpone their greater ambitions and desires by saying and believing that they don’t have time to go chase after them, this is when they actually lose time.

Read that again.

I know I said people all have the same amount of time, but that’s only in the context of every single day. We don’t all live to be the same age. Some of us die sooner, some later.

In the grand scheme of your whole life, you have a limited amount of time that gets deducted in these 24-hour increments. And while we all inevitably lose time as time passes, there is a difference between time that is spent and time that is lost.

Time that is spent is time that you spend pursuing meaningful and fulfilling things for yourself.

Spending time with your loved ones, building a project or business for a cause that you care about, volunteering, and writing to build a legacy that will positively impact future adults and generations (*wink) are some ways that time is spent in a productive and healthy way.

Time that is lost is time that you lose because you’re denying yourself.

You tell yourself that you’re not good enough. You say that you’ll never make it.

You think that you don’t have the time to pursue your greater ambitions anyway.

And instead, you decide to fill your time with non-necessities and distractions, possibly so that you can sleep at night. Possibly to cope with the fact that you’re not doing what you really want, for whatever reason or excuse.

It’s easier to quickly bury an ambition than it is to pursue it and potentially fail.

It’s easier to lie to yourself and say that you have no time, when you really do and are just not prioritizing your tasks properly.

It’s easier to blame something else for being unable to do something than it is to accept the responsibility that it is ultimately up to you what you make of your life.

How to make up for lost time

For your own sake, dear reader, I want you to take a good, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself what it is that’s really holding you back. Because I promise you, it’s not a lack of time.

Maybe I hit the nail on the head with some examples I laid out earlier, but for others, you’ll have some more digging to do.

As cliche as it sounds, you really only do have this one life to live, and I wouldn’t recommend denying yourself the opportunity to live it to the fullest because of some unresolved internal conflict you’re struggling to overcome.

You’re capable of so much more than you know. Don’t lose your time by letting your potential sit dormant. Dormant time leads to a dormant life, and a dormant life is not a fulfilling one.

On the surface, it can help to take some time to write down a list of what it is you do every day and separate the necessities from the non-necessities.

If you notice that you spend a lot more time than is necessary engaging in certain non-necessary activities like watching shows or idly scrolling through social media, if you cut back on that time, you free up some of your time to do other things.

However, beneath the surface, making up for lost time can be a lot trickier because the internal roadblocks don’t just go away with a snap of the fingers.

Things like believing that you’re not good enough or that you’re doomed to fail no matter what you try require a lot more work. I’d start with considering therapy if applicable and getting a supportive circle of people in your life who cheer you on if you don’t have such people behind you already.

But before you can do any of that, it all starts with understanding, acknowledging, and accepting that you do, in fact, have time.

You just need to make sure you prioritize it accordingly.