Episode 15: Time Freedom

Don’t keep rushing to a meaningless end

One of the things that I hear the most from people who want to start a business is that they feel they are not in control of their time.

Every year you give more of yourself to do well, you wake up earlier, you have more work to do… 

In this episode, I take a look at why having free time is important, how it can improve your health and help you figure out what meaningful goal you are working towards in life.

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Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Elite Entrepreneur show, show number 15, where today we are going to continue talking about our series on freedom. Today we are going to talk about time freedom.
If you are just tuning in, we started a series in episode number 12, on the concept of freedom. We then spoke about what freedom really means and what freedom really is. On episode number 13, we spoke about financial freedom. Episode number 14, we spoke about location freedom. Today we are talking about time freedom.

If you are listening on podcast, you are going to hear a lot of ambient noise in the background. The reason is because we are currently on site, on vacation at the coast and I’m shooting this while overlooking the ocean. I actually just came from a morning walk with my wife, Candy, and I decided I’m going to try to shoot this episode with this background because it’s very fitting. But I do know there is a little bit of ambient noise, so please just bear with me. But I do suggest you tune in, go to www.eliteinc.com/15 and you can actually watch the video and then you can enjoy the beautiful scenery with me.

So guys, I started this series on freedom in episode 12, as I mentioned, and I felt it’s important to shoot a couple of videos around the topic of freedom. As a quick recap, in case you haven’t gone through episode number 12, which I highly suggest you do before listening or watching this one. The topic of freedom is important because a big part of why entrepreneurs do what they do is to achieve a level of freedom in some way, shape or form. But what I’ve found in my coaching career is that very few people ever achieve any level of freedom. So I think it’s a topic that warrants investigation and that warrants thought and that warrants contemplation.

I want to talk to you guys about time freedom. I think the one thing I hear more than anything else from entrepreneurs who want to start their own businesses, is people feel they just are not in control of their own time any longer, especially people who are in corporate jobs. It seems like every year you have to give more and more of yourself to do well in a corporate career. I think that corporates have to become more efficient, so they have to make do with fewer people and they have to achieve more with fewer people. I think as a result, people are now finding themselves waking up every year a little bit earlier because there is more traffic to contend with and there is more work, and returning back home just a little bit [later].

I think what’s happening here is the boiling frog syndrome. You guys know how to boil a frog without them jumping out. You just put them in cold water and put on the stove just a little bit and the water heats up so gradually that, that frog just never actually jumps out. Eventually the frog boils themselves to death. So I think this is what’s happening to us as a society at this point, is that there is slowly and systematically over the last 10 years, the last decade or so, there are so many things that started infringing on our time that it has kind of slipped under the radar. I think many of us actually didn’t realize that it was happening. As a result of that, we find ourselves time starved; but we are not quite sure why and we are not quite sure what to do about it.

There are a couple of problems with this whole “time starved” thing and that’s kind of what I want to try to address here today. I think the first problem with not having time really has to do, it’s going to sound a bit ethereal, but the relationship you have with yourself. If you are constantly are running from one thing to the next, you wake up and it’s a rush to get the kids ready for school, and as soon as you’ve got them ready for school, you hop in the car just to race, just to get them to school just in the nick of time. And then you have to race to work. As you run in, there is a meeting that you are late for. Your whole day starts in a panic, isn’t it?

I mean, think about psychologically what that does to one’s body and your stress hormones and your own sense of emotional and mental well-being or lack thereof, in this case. If the whole day is a rush. Then you’ve got to get back and you’ve got to again, fetch the kids, make dinner, and have time to be a partner, to be a husband or a wife as well.

Where is the time for you? When in your life is there space for you? Where you can sit on a rock and just think, for heaven sake, catch your breath and not do anything in particular. Just be, and just be you, and just think and just experience the sun in your face.

I know you may be thinking, listen, easy for you. You seem to always be on a holiday. But listen, it didn’t just happen, alright. It doesn’t just happen. I mean, I can do this because I thought about this stuff and that’s what I want to help you with. When is there space for you? How many of you guys feel… tell me honestly, do you feel connected with yourself? Do you feel like you have a good sense of who you are this point, you know, after you’ve gone and sacrificed so much of yourself for family and for work obligations and for survival, where does it leave you?
I think the one challenge with busyness is that it’s hard to just connect with yourself.

Now, some of you guys it’s more small business and very left brain, you are like, “Malan, what the hell are you talking about, connecting with yourself? Go hug a bunny”.
And that’s fine. Listen, I get it, dude. But just follow me, okay? Just follow me for a second and just allow your mind to contemplate the questions I’m asking.

I think the first thing is that we become disconnected from ourselves. Why is that a big deal? It’s a big deal because if you look at all the work you put in every single day, the question is why? What is your primary goal that you are aiming towards?
I’ve asked this question of over a hundred thousand people, and I can tell you, most people don’t know. For them if I ask them, what do you want? Where are you running towards? Like survival, you know, pay the bills. That’s not inspiring, is it? It’s fine for a while. It’s fine for a while. But guys you can’t stay like this. This can’t be your life. You have to work towards something that’s meaningful to you.

How do you know what’s meaningful to you? How do you know what’s important to you? How do you know what you should be aiming for if you don’t have the time to sit and contemplate these important questions? You see, some things can only be done in contemplation, can only be done through thought. Thinking is the most important work that you can do in business and in life. You know, Warren Buffett always says that. He encourages people to spend more time thinking and less time doing so that when you do something, you are doing the right thing. So that’s important to take time for yourself, firstly.

Another big challenge with not being time-starved is this whole issue of not exercising. I’m going to be the first person to make a confession here. Listen, my life is not perfect and never has been. It’s a lot better than what it was before. That’s for sure. But it’s not perfect. I went through a long time of just working, but this wasn’t an external constraint. This was my own doing. So I also want to make that very clear. I just worked, work, work, work, work, work, chasing, chasing, chasing, going for goals. I found myself 20 kilograms, I guess that’s about 50 pounds overweight, insulin problems, just badly out of shape.

What happened is, one evening I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I was lying in bed and I had these heart palpitations and I thought, “Oh my God, I’m going to die”. I called my wife, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do my entire life. I had to call my wife and I had to say to her, “My love, you better take me to a hospital. I think I’m dying”.
I swear to God. Needless to say, she was panicked. She rushed me to a hospital. They put me on an ECG machine and said, “Your heart is fine”. They looked at all the enzymes and all that and the nurse said, “Mr. Malan, I think you are having a panic attack”.
I was like, “A panic attack? How can a panic attack make you feel like you are dying?”
She said, “People that come here that’s having a panic attack feel like they are dying”.

First of all, I was relieved that I wasn’t dying, but I was very disturbed that I had a panic attack. I was like, me, a panic attack? What the hell? Like, bring it on. I can carry the world on my shoulders, no problem. But I spent a lot of time thinking, why did I have a panic attack?

I realized that the pace that I was operating in, I wasn’t counter-balancing that with exercise. All the stress hormones were sitting in my body. It was accumulating in my body. You know, I’m no longer in my thirties, where you are indestructible and bulletproof. I’m now 46 years of age. I just couldn’t process stress and pressure and anxiety the way I used to. My body gave me a warning and I was really glad it did, but it wasn’t a heart attack that I couldn’t turn back from, that it was a warning and I took heed of it.

Then I started thinking, but why don’t I exercise. I actually love exercise. That’s the weirdest thing. It was just habit. You know, I just fell out of the habit. But by then I did have the time to exercise and I didn’t exercise the choice that I had to exercise. But I think for most people, if I ask them about exercise, they would say, “Well, I don’t have the time. I’m already stressed. Now I’ve got to stress about rushing to the gym as well”.
People who are in fitness love telling you that’s just an excuse. It’s not just an excuse.

Listen, if you are a busy mom or if you are someone that has a family, you have responsibilities. You are already rushing. You are already semi-tired. You already can’t get through a day without coffee. I don’t buy it. It’s not as simple as someone showing up and saying, “Oh, you should just exercise”.
That’s first of all, condescending and second, it’s disrespectful.
And it doesn’t take into account the reality of your own life. So I get it. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t exercise. I’m saying I have genuine understanding why it’s really difficult. I’m obviously going to advise you to exercise, but I’m not going to say to you it’s easy.

Now coming back to the whole idea of time freedom, you know, having that time in your life. I want to give you a scenario. In our company, as you know by now, we run a distributed workforce. We work from home, all of us. The average person saves two to three hours a day by not driving in traffic. That’s the average. That’s about the medium that our team is saving a day. Now let’s work on two hours a day. If you have an extra two hours a day discretionary, just because you are beating traffic, you are not doing traffic because you work from home. One hour goes towards exercise comfortably. I’m not talking about killing yourself. I’m talking about going for a walk, for heaven sakes. That’s not difficult. Anybody can do that. And you’ve got an hour to read. You’ve got another hour to just be, to spend time with yourself, to spend time with your family. That’s just that. That’s just an extra two hours.

Imagine you have a business that doesn’t require a 9 to 5 or that at least gives you a degree of flexibility over your own in time. I mean, if you are more of a night owl and you prefer working at night and you are less productive during the day, you wake up a little bit groggy, you are not quite as sharp in the morning. I’m like that. How cool would it be if you could work in the hours that you are more productive?

Everything comes back to time. This whole issue of not having time, who designed that? How did it happen that we don’t have time? What do we do about it? What do we do about it? It’s not as simple as saying, I need to plan better. If your day is chockablock, what do you do about it?

I think the first thing is you have to make a decision about what your time is worth. Think about it. If you don’t put a value to an hour, you are not going to do much to try and get more hours. Does it make sense? Imagine you have the opportunity every day to pick up one little piece of gold, one little golden nugget. If you don’t value the gold, you are not going to pick it up. You are going to walk past it every day because you are going to take it for granted. Tomorrow there is going to be another nugget, right?
It’s only if you value the gold that you are going to pick it up. Time is the same thing. And we’ve gotten used to selling our time for money and selling our time for guarding country and for being dutiful. But what if your hours matter? What if your hours matter and you decide, listen, every hour matters? I believe that’s the start of freedom.

The start of time freedom is saying, “My time matters. I value it”.
And then you start looking at, where does my time go and does it contribute towards a meaningful life? Does it contribute towards achieving all the other goals that I want to accomplish in my own life? I promise you the exercise of awareness, just becoming aware, where does the time go and what is it really worth to you, you start realizing that you may be not as in control of your own time as you want to be. You can change it. That’s a cool thing. You are not a prisoner. But the start is awareness. The start of all change, as the Buddhist say starts with awareness.

There is another big deal when it comes to time. We are not spending enough time with our kids. I listen to parents all the time talk about, “Ah, kids today, they are always on their cell phones”. Well, who bought the damn cellphone? Who is allowing the kid to sit in front of the cellphone or the tablet?
Families don’t have dinner anymore. It’s ridiculous. I mean, my wife and I and our son, we sit around the dinner table every night together. We eat together and the television isn’t on and nobody is allowed a cellphone around the table. Why do we do that? Because we actually like spending time together. We like connecting with one another. We like to talk to one another, to be participants in one another’s lives.
So what’s the point of spending time with people, being in their proximity, but you are not physically present? What’s the point in that?

But again, I get it. It’s not a judgment. I know as a parent, you probably already feel guilty. I get it. If you are exhausted and you don’t at the time to just catch your breath, it is sometimes easier to just put the kids in front of the television or put a tablet in hand. But the problem isn’t the kids and the problem isn’t you. The problem is the design of how we lead our lives. That’s the challenge here. We are not in control of our own time. So there are a lot of things that suffer, you know our health suffers, our family suffers, relationships.

Guys, do you know why the divorce rate is so high? I think it’s because people don’t spend time together. I know it sounds like an overly simplistic answer. But Candy and I work together. We spend our days together. It’s impossible to not know how the other one is feeling and to not be in quality communication. I’m not saying that’s the key to a successful marriage. There is a lot more to it, so don’t get me wrong. I’m not over=simplifying a complex topic, but it’s one part of it. Be present in one another’s company. But it’s hard if you are distracted, if you stress and there is a whole bunch of things going on, very hard to be present. So time impacts family, it impacts health and it impacts your own emotional well-being and sanity.

Now, let’s talk about hobbies. It’s so funny. We had a friend who is one of the wealthiest families in the country, literally, and recently decided to retire after divorce and to take time out. He just said to us the other day, “I don’t have hobbies. I don’t know what to do with my time because I’ve been working my whole life.”
So we’ve forgotten how to live. I go fly-fishing. That’s one of my hobbies. We travel, we fly drone, do cool stuff. I still work very hard, make no mistake, because I love it. But we don’t have hobbies nowadays. Anyway, the purpose of this video is not to make you depressed, like, “Oh my God, I felt terrible about not having time. Now I feel even worse. Thanks, Malan. How is this helping in any way, shape or form?

No. I want to bring to your awareness. I want to bring to your awareness in a way that’s going to have impact. I don’t want you to just listen to this podcast or just watch this show and it has no impact. I want it to mean something and I want to impress upon you the importance of your time. Your time is valuable and only one person on this planet can give you your time back. And guess who that is? That’s you. That’s the only person who has got to control of your time. And I’m telling you now, change starts today. Change starts today by you making brand new choices.

Here is what I want you to do: I want you to think about what freedom and flexibility you have over your own time or not; and I want you to make decisions, today still, about what changes you are going to bring about, and I want you to tell me what those are.
I want you to go to www.eliteinc.com/15, scroll down, get to the comments box and tell me what new decision or decisions you have taken when it comes to time.
You are in control. You must never forget that. It doesn’t matter what your circumstances are right now. You can change it and it starts with decisions, even if you are not 100% sure how things are going to pan out. All change starts by making a decision first.

I want you to make some decisions and tell me what those are. How are you going to change your day? How are you going to change our own relationship with time? What is your next move? As it comes to time freedom, where do you want more time? What do you want to have the time for? What are you going to do to get more time back? Once you’ve got that time, what are you going to do with it? What are you going to do with more time? You see, because unless you’ve got a good answer to that question, you are also not going to work hard to give yourself more time.

Anyway, guys, I really want to hear from you. I love the dialogue. I love all the comments we are getting on our blog. I might not always respond to all of them, but I read every single one of them. I want to thank you for being a participant in this journey called life.
You know, this whole thing of being a so called guru, that’s a lot of bull****. I’m figuring it out as much as what you are, so it’s a dialogue. I like hearing from you guys and I like the discussion. So tell me, tell me what you think. What are your thoughts when it comes to time, when it comes to time freedom, time constraints, and tell me what your next move is.

Again, guys thanks so much for listening, for tuning in. Those of you guys who like watching on YouTube, please remember to hit the subscribe button to subscribe to our channel. Those of you guys that are podcasters, you like listening to the podcast, please remember to subscribe and give us a rating if you like it, remember to tell your friends and remember to go to www.eliteinc.com/15 if you need help to start your own time freedom business.

As you know, digital is something that I’m very passionate about and something we are very good at helping people with. So if it’s time to take the next step, go to www.eliteinc.com/15, book call, 15 minutes with one of our team members and let’s see if we can help you.

Otherwise, I just want to thank you again for your time. I don’t take it for granted the fact that you’ve tuned in and that you’ve stayed with me on the series and thanks for being a participant. I appreciate you. Thank you very much. I will see you on the next episode.