I Don’t Have Time – Our Hidden Resistance to Meaningful Change


…people will do the things that prove what they believe.  The reason that person bought the iPhone in the first six hours, stood in line for six hours, was because of what they believed about the world and how they wanted everybody to see them – they were first.”  Simon Sinek

So how is your behavior affirming what you deeply believe?

How is it affirming your worldview?

How is it informing how you want everybody to see you?

One of the most common rebuttals that I hear when people are challenged with experimenting with more effective behavior…behavior that they agree would be beneficial to themselves if they would only experiment with it – is “I don’t have time for that.”

I’ve been hearing this for quite some time now and each time I do it leaves me a bit speechless.  We don’t have the time to do the things that we have deemed most beneficial?  The excuses are almost never about not knowing how to do it or whether or not they actually believe it.  Almost always – it’s about time.

I’m too busy.

I don’t know why I should be surprised.  I do the same thing.  Just this morning I was looking at my to-do list and thinking – I don’t have time to ride the exercise bike today – a discipline that I have found very helpful to my wellbeing.  As a matter of fact – I even began to justify how the other activity that I have planned for the day will keep me active enough that I don’t need to ride the bike today…and I was totally buying my argument for forgoing my biking regimen.

In Kegan and Lahey’s book “Immunity to Change” they talk about the powerful pull of our hidden commitments – the commitments that lay in the subterranean spaces of our mind, heart and soul.  Although we may not be able to name them, it is these hidden obligations that cause us to shake whenever we consider the possibility of a change that could do them in.

For example, if I am deeply committed to being seen as indispensable by my peers I will be totally driven to work 12 to 14 hour days even though I know it is killing my creativity, my health, my closest relationships, etc.  And no matter how many TED talks, or books I read on the values of life balance or pacing myself – no matter how much I believe that could help me – no matter how many tools are at my disposal to make that slow down happen – I’ll be damned if I will slow down because my long hours are essential to keeping up my commitment that others see me as indispensable.  And there is no way in hell that I’m going to give anyone an excuse to say anything other than “no one works harder than me.”

One of the reasons these hidden commitments remain unearthed is that they are less noble.  At face value – they are not the messages we want to reveal to others.  As a result we figure out how to protect them by sending up decoy messages like – “I don’t have time to do this other thing.”  That message plays much better among my peers.  As a matter of fact – it actually supports my commitment – being seen as busy = being seen as productive = being seen as indispensable.  Mission accomplished.

And yet why is my life about to come unhinged?