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do you have the time to be healthy

"It's not about the time you have, but what you do with it, that's important"



One of the most common reasons I hear as a health coach for people not improving their health is the time they think it will take. 


Interesting thing time. As Gandalf said to Frodo “It’s not about the time you have, but what you do with the time that’s important” (if you are wondering, it’s a The Lord of the Rings thing).


So how do you make time for more things? For things, you are not currently doing? 


I have just finished reading ‘The Time Paradox’  by John Boyd & Phil Zimardo. The following is the book description (which explains it better than I could);


Every significant choice, every important decision we make, is determined by our perception of time. This book will show how:


  • the way you perceive time is as unique as your fingerprints

  • These individual time perspectives shape your life and the world around you

  • You can change the way you perceive time, so you get the most out of every minute

  • If you don’t, the power of time in the modern world is so immense that it will take its toll on you


The book describes three different ways we focus on time. You are either predominately past focused, present-focused or future focused. 


In different aspects of your life you can focus on each one, but overall you will focus on time either on what happened to you in the past, what is happening to you currently and what you think will happen to you in the future. Each time focus can then either be positive or negative. 


How you perceive time can dictate your beliefs, thoughts, habits and behaviours.


When it comes to your health this can play a major role in how you stop what you are currently doing and making the changes necessary to see improvements.


Past Focused


If you have a past negative time focus this might be a barrier to implementing new eating and exercise habits. If your past experience of trying to get healthier is of eating tasteless food and aching muscles, then you might believe that it’s going to be the same this time around.


Someone with a past positive time focus might think that they did see some improvements last time they tried, so it’s worth giving it another chance but do slightly different this time around. 


People who are more past focused are less likely to plan ahead and take risks. This could lead to slow progress towards any goal, as they are always weighing up the pros and cons of changing, without ever taking the leap of faith needed to discover and achieve something new. 


Present Focused


If you are more of a present time focus person, you are more likely to focus on what you are currently doing, and not allowing what happened in the past or what might happen in the future dictate your actions today. 


Present-focused people are more likely to care more for the people around them and put their needs second to people close to them. They are less likely to focus on goals to0 far into the future and are more likely to act impulsively. 


The positive when it comes to their health, is they are more mindful of what they are doing now and what harm or good their actions are doing at the time. The negative though is they make health choices based on how they are feeling at the time without thinking of the long-term results. 


For example; they are more likely to use certain vices to make them feel better right there and then, even though long-term it might be more harmful to their health mentally and physically. 


Future Focused


The final group of people are more future focused. These people are predominantly thinking of what their present actions are going to do to their future self. They are very much into planning ahead and trying to predict the future outcome of their planning.


When it comes to their health they know exactly what they need to do today to achieve what they want tomorrow. They understand that exercising on a regular basis and eating better is needed to be stronger and fitter as they grow older. They understand that the process determines the outcome.


They value time differently from the past and present-focused people, as they believe there is no time to lose. 


The negative side of this focus is that sometimes future-focused people forget to focus on what their actions are doing to the people around them and become more self-focused on what’s important to them. 


For anyone to truly achieve good health, you must have the right support around you and get other people involved in your journey. Future-focused people can learn a lot from past and present-focused people in how to learn from the past and how to live in the now.


What Time Focus Are You?


If I use myself as an example, when it comes to my health I am more future focused. I want to have a level of health, fitness and wellbeing that allows me to stay independent as I age and I know that is only achievable through planning for the future, following the right process and staying focused on my end goal.


When it comes to my finances though, I am more present-focused. I believe in the motto “work to live, not live to work”. I work and earn money so I can experience what life has to offer here and now. Even though I also believe in “saving for a rainy day” I am more impulsive with money than I am with health. This belief and behaviour are down to a mix of focusing on my past and present experiences. 


So what does this all mean in becoming healthier?


If you want to change your current health, you first must realise how you see time and what type of time you mainly focus on. If you are more past focused, then try and focus on the positive things that have happened to your health in the past. This will help you make better decisions today, which will lead to a healthier future.


If though you are more of a present-focused person, don’t commit to goals in the future and not try to make sacrifices that your impulsive nature can’t keep to long-term. Focus on the good habits and behaviours you need to do today and don’t worry about trying to do them tomorrow. A little bit better approach each day will suit you better than trying to be perfect.


If you think you are more a future-focused person when it comes to your health, setting long-term goals is the way forward. What you will find hard is performing the repetitive actions that are needed to be done every day, as you will find it harder to focus on the job at hand, as well as trying to overcome the barriers other people throw up in front of you. 


We should all be striving to become more well rounded when it comes to how we see time and our health. We can and should use positive events from our past to show that what we want is possible, live in the moment and learn to enjoy the journey and our imperfections that occur every day and not be scared of the future and embrace the process and planning needed to keep moving forward in the right direction.


Only then can we truly have the right time to be healthy.



Chris, myHealthCoach




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