Monday, September 1, 2014

The Least We Can Do

“Take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves.”

Lord Chesterfield

“Your greatest resource is your time.”

Brian Tracy

“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.”

Peter F. Drucker

What is the least we can do?  That’s right – the least.  Not the most.  Often, we want to do the most we can do.  But sometimes we can’t.  We’re sick.  Or other people need us.  Or we have to go to work.  Or we’re in a limiting situation of some kind.  We don’t have four to six hours a day to devote to our Purpose.  We’re lucky if we get an hour.  What then is the least we can do?
I am not making excuses.  I am not rationalizing.  This is a very real problem for some people.  Often when I talk to people about moving forward in their Purpose, they give me a (sometimes literal) laundry list of all their chores and obligations, including doing the laundry.  So I ask this question:
Can you do one thing, just one thing, towards your Purpose?
The answer people give is usually very telling.  When people reiterate how busy their lives are and how they want to change things, but they don’t have the time or the money or the emotional support or the energy, then I realize they may not be ready to move forward in life.
What matters here is the truth.  Some people just aren’t ready.  Some people may never be ready.  For years I wasn’t ready.  Oh, I wanted change.  I wanted things to be different.  At least I said I did, but until I started writing, actually taking action, nothing changed. 
Perhaps we are afraid.  Perhaps we don’t know how to move forward.  That brings us, then, to the original question:  What is the least we can do? 
Can you read or study towards your Purpose, maybe just a few pages a day?
Can you talk to other people who are moving forward?
Can you get up just a little earlier?
Can you make some decisions for yourself rather than allowing others to make decisions for you?
Can you practice your craft or skill for just a few minutes a day?
Can you start taking better care of yourself?
Can you organize your environment?
Can you give just two hours, one hour, a half-hour, 15 minutes, or 5 minutes towards your Purpose?
What is the least you can do?
Even during some of my most stuck periods, I would listen to motivational or educational audio books to and from work.  This gave me about 40 minutes a day of intellectual challenge and stimulation.  During work breaks I would go to my car and meditate or read.  This gave me an extra 15-30 minutes a day of self-care.  The two activities combined gave me about an hour a day of moving forward.  They weren’t the most I could do. They were the least I could do.  But they were also all that I could do at the time.  Thus they became the most I could do.
We all love those periods of time when we’re the most productive.  They’re fun and invigorating.  But life is not always smooth and simple.  Things happen.  Illness.  The unexpected.  Delays.  They all happen.  So I try to use the small moments.  A few minutes here and there all add up. 
Perhaps it’s our use of the few minutes that will determine if we get more minutes.   In the Parable of the Stewards, Jesus said those who are faithful in little things will be entrusted with greater things.  Maybe if I can be diligent for 15 minutes, I will be given an hour, or a day, or all my days to be in my Purpose.  Maybe there’s a direct correlation to how I use small amounts of time before I am given large amounts of time.  Why would this be so?  Perhaps it is for our protection.
Imagine if a genie came and granted you the wish to have all the free time you wanted.  You no longer had to go to work or do the laundry.  Would you really use your time wisely?  Or would you waste it?  If you wasted it, you would be even more miserable.  The wish would become a curse.
How did you use your time today?  Perhaps it was a little of both, of wisdom and waste.  When it’s more of the first and less of the second, your wish will be granted, not by a genie, but by a King who thinks you’re ready.
The only problem is that it may not be granted right away.  You may have to prove, not for one day, but for several days, weeks, months, or even years, that you are ready. 
Can you work through distractions, sickness, pain, heartache, or busyness?  Then do so.  Do the least you can do.  Take care of your life.  Take care of your obligations.  But when you aren’t, take care of yourself.  Take care of your heart.  Get Started and Keep Going.  Even for a few minutes a day.  Then don’t be surprised if those minutes open up to hours, then days, then the lifetime of Purpose you were born to have.