Thursday, May 22, 2014

Being On Time: Important to Happiness

I was reading one of my favorite blogs The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin who wrote a post about how to change the habit of chronically being late. I agreed with the steps she gave readers to help them change the habit.

I ended up posting a comment about how I felt about the importance and value of time, specifically if I am going to meet up with someone.

Here is what I shared:

"I am chronically way ahead of schedule. I grew up in a household that always arrived to things at least 10 minutes ahead of schedule. There were always some advantages to our 'promptness'. For example, we always got the pick of the good seats at movie theaters, we always avoided the rush at the restaurants, we always made our flights. 

The disadvantage is how others view their promptness. When I was first living on my own, and would show up to everything early, I would end up waiting and then (because I live in an area where people are chronically late) would end up waiting even double the time because they would be late. This was very frustrating to me, and I ended up creating a story in my mind that someone did not value my time enough to show up when they said they would. I have since struggled with the concept of the value of someone's time. 

The way I dealt with this at first was the three strike rule - if someone didn't show up on time, or around the time of our appointment, and they did it three times, I wouldn't schedule anymore appointments with that person. I ended up losing a lot of valuable relationships because of this rule. I have learned that there are people who do not value the importance of 'being on time' as a priority the way I do. Being on time for me means, spending more time with someone I care about. But maybe being on time for them means doing everything in their power to get there, even if it means being 10 minutes late, and still having an enjoyable time. 

I have since remedied my three strike out rule and have come to learn that A. I still like being on time - it makes me happy to know the lay of the land, but have had to learn to just be, instead of getting frustrated, B. Adjusting my expectation that just because someone else is late, doesn't mean that meaningful things can't happen, or that they care less for/about me, and C. Understanding that there will be things that get in the way of someone not being able to be on time...and being considerate of how they prepare to make appointments."

Like I said in the post, I have been fighting this almost my entire adult life. I recall a specific period of time where the last thoughts mentioned above dawned on me. My friend asked me to meet at her house at 10:00 p.m. so we could go out on the town. I arrived 5 minutes early, only to wait an additional 45 minutes for her to get ready. Before I left my home, I had a million things I needed to get done. But, I put them on hold because I needed to make my appointment. That was more important to me than running some last minute errands. You can imagine my consternation when I arrived only to realize I could have finished my errands instead of being prompt. Needless to say, I tried to put the anger behind me and have a good time, but found I had a chip on my shoulder from that evening's events.

When my friend asked me to do something else, I remember being clear about the time table, "Your time, or my time." I said it as a joke at first, but the conversation took a more serious turn as she responded defensively. She knew she had issues being on time, and others around me know that about her. Being a new friend of her, I had to learn it the hard way. At the end of this experience, we didn't speak with one another for a while. I realized I valued her too much as a friend to lose her, so I had to change my ways, and accept that I shouldn't be so pointed when trying to address time management issues. I eased up and realized that she would be late to every event we planned, and ended up taking a book so I would have something to do while I waited.

In addition to what I said in the post on Gretchen's page, I remember having a conversation with a friend who caught me in my moment of 'waiting and getting angry' because my friend was late, asked me why I was so frustrated. After explaining my situation and my thoughts around being prompt, he told me that I should just start showing up around the time that my chronically late friend would so I wouldn't be so frustrated. He said semi-jokingly that I was the one at fault because I could have scheduled in all this other time to do something else instead of wasting my time waiting, and maybe I should consider changing my behavior.

You know, I find great comfort knowing that other bloggers/comments/posts said something similar to mine. I appreciated all their comments, even after I posted something that was quite similar to what others were also thinking...oops.

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