The fastest way to a higher quality of life is to stop being late. As far as the subject of self-help goes, it doesn’t get any more basic than this. Punctuality is actually rare. This is true because all of us know those who are always prompt, and they do indeed stand out. Most identify this trait as showing up ahead of schedule. Few realize it also indicates a willingness to stay longer. There’s no doubt all of us want more time, but what good are a few extra minutes if they are not productive and peaceful?
Early in my recovery I was clonked over-the-head repeatedly with this topic, and for good reason. The habit of tardiness is basically one of self-centeredness, and boy did I have buckets of it. Along with the action, I also had a filing cabinet full of excuses to accompany my behavior. There were some pretty creative ones too. My personal favorite (at the time) was claiming I’d been pulled over by the cops for some minor infringement. I’d explain, they were nice and let me go with just a warning. Not only was I lying about why I was late, I was attempting to generate sympathy for myself too. Using lies like this to perpetuate my laziness turned my mind into a garbage dump. This collection of pointless excuses eventually took up so much mental room, there was little left over for even the most basic of needs. It finally became clear that the only thing I could be counted on to do was to be unreliable. I eventually turned this lifestyle around by realizing all that was required to change it, was to walk away from it. There was no clean up necessary, just abandonment.
When I came to the conclusion I had no need to drag the past into the present, it allowed me the freedom to move forward without anchorage. Over the years, I’ve exhibited a lot of behavior I never want to repeat. These slips of character are not who I am; they exist to help me define who I am not. I did not want to be the last person to show up anymore, and I had plenty of leverage in the form of previous examples to help me to change that. I left the habit behind and went forth with a willingness to do what would be asked of me from those I had wronged through my sloth.
It’s just my opinion, but I think a lot of the world’s problems would disappear if everyone would just make a commitment to show up on time. Traffic would ease, health issues due to stress would lower, production would rise, and trust would increase; all because of one thing changing. It may be a fool’s wish, but I’m sure it’s one that can be clearly envisioned by most of us.
There are some habits I’ve developed that help to nurture a more reliable (and relaxing) lifestyle.
First- When I wake up, I choose to get up. If the thought enters my mind that I would like to sleep some more, I replace it with, “Wake up.” When my mind hears a request from the conscious part, my sub-conscious part (which is still driving the bus) responds and starts the chemistry that makes me want to get out of bed rather than stay there. Let’s face it, five more minutes, or even a little more, makes almost no difference on a complete nights rest anyway.
Second- I do my best not to leave anything undone at the end of my duties that I don’t want to do upon returning. In other words, at the very least, I’ll give myself something to look forward to “not doing.”
Third- IF a delay really does come up, I will inform those waiting on me as soon as possible. If I tell someone ahead of time that my behavior is going to be disruptive, there will be no need to excuse it later, and that earns respect.
Fourth- Rest is a priority to the expenditure of energy. I try not to short-change myself in this area. It does seem that the older I get, the earlier I go to bed, and the earlier I rise– which automatically gives me what I need.
I do not follow these ideas as strictly as I would like. The only one I don’t break is the third one. Yes, I am still late on occasion. I am not without fault here, but I am much more aware of others who are waiting for me, and that has allowed a less-selfish approach to the day. It sounds simplistic, but the bottom line to curing a tardy life is nothing more than choosing to give yourself enough time.
It has been my experience that reliability equals abundance, and this was the first step I took that opened those floodgates. If nothing else, the more we are late, the more we miss out on life, and I for one don’t want to miss a thing.
With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood