Breaking into the finance world in New York City can mean working 80 plus hours a week for a huge portion of your career. Some of the big corporations tell their new hire they shouldn’t plan on dating for the next 8-10 years of their lives. On top of working an obscene amount of hours, they often have to entertain out-of-town clients during the evening.
I could handle that type of schedule for approximately three hours before wanting to curl up in a ball and cry.
A friend of mine graduated, came to the city and started climbing the financial corporate ladder. He longed for a meaningful relationship and wanted to eventually get married. But the demands of his job kept him at the office until all hours of the night and he was single for many years. There was no way he could invest into another person when he barely had enough time to take care of himself.
After years of this, he finally hit a breaking point. He realized if something didn’t change he would end up rich — and alone. So he made a decision that changed everything: he created space.
He started leaving work by 6:00 p.m. He wasn’t dating anyone, but he wanted his life to have margin for the things he really wanted, so when the time came he would be ready for it.
It wasn’t easy, and it was counter cultural in his industry. But he understood that we need to create space in our lives for the things we value. How we spend our time reflects our priorities.
Our culture loves stories of overnight success. Or the magical, often unrealistic, instantly-head-over-heels-in-love plot lines of romantic comedies. However, those stories are the exception, not the rule.
A few years ago I got a huge break in my photography career and booked one of my dream editorial clients. The opportunity seemed to fall into my lap. I was at the right place at the right time.
Perhaps I was. But the reality is, when that dream job came knocking I was ready for it. I had been working hard for years honing my craft, building my team, and developing a respected reputation in the fashion and photography world.
An opportunity can happen suddenly, but if we haven’t put in the time, or created the space and margin for it, the opportunity can blow away as quickly as it came.
My aunt often says, “nothing happens suddenly.” Our all of a suddens don’t happen in a vacuum, but when we faithfully and intentionally show up in our lives over a long period of time. Then when the “suddenly” moments happen we are ready for them.
This is true for relationships, but also our careers, finances, and personal growth.
A few years ago I spoke at a women’s conference, and it was a turning point. I realized one of my life callings is to speak truth and hope to women. After the conference I was on fire to start speaking more often, but I was busy running two businesses. I blinked and six months flew by. Speaking at the conference seemed like a dim memory.
My excuse was I didn’t have enough time. I felt like if I couldn’t put all my energy into it, I couldn’t do it at all. It was my business coach who finally shook me awake to the idea that it didn’t have to be all or nothing. I realized that if speaking is important to me — and it is — my life needs to reflect that.
And like my friend who longed for a relationship and created space for the thing he desired, I had a decision to make. He didn’t sell all of his belongings, leave New York City and hire a matchmaker. He simply made a strategic decision to leave work at a reasonable hour so that when he met someone he’d already have space in his life for her.
(By the way within a few years he was married with a baby on the way.)
So I chose to start creating space for speaking. It was only an hour or two a week. But I knew that time was dedicated to investing into my speaking — whether that was writing a keynote, practicing out loud, or reaching out to conferences and women’s groups about speaking at their events. And slowly opportunities started coming my way. When they came I was ready for them, because I had created space in my day-to-day life for this dream.
What are the things you long for but don’t have yet? Is it a relationship, financial freedom, a travel adventure, a promotion? It could be as simple as getting up 15 minutes earlier and doing a jog around the block if the goal is to be in better shape.
Think about your day-to-day life. Does the way you spend your time reflect your priorities? How can you shift something in a small way to make room for the relationship, the dream, the goal?