I do not have time!

11. Januar 2015 | von

The great dividing line between success and failure can be expressed in five words: ‘I did not have time.’

Franklin Field

This quote opened an article I read a few years ago and I have tried to keep in mind the value of what I read, which comes in handy when everyone is talking about new resolutions, plans and projects. The text was, as one might guess, about the importance of time… and of course, tired and sick of hearing it over and over, I took for granted that I knew exactly what I was doing with my time, however I found interesting information about what one can achieve in sixty minutes.

Many years ago I met an artist and photographer who was trying to open a school in my town, he only had one student and once I visited his studio I noticed that the whole project was a mere dream he was following and not something he expected to get a lot of money from. I was looking for some pictures he had taken for an exhibition, I wanted to learn to draw and paint and I thought I could very well start with some images of people and places I knew. I let him know what my plans were and that I had no experience whatsoever, but that that was something I wanted to learn. He asked me if I wanted to join them, I could learn there… then, almost automatically, the words came out of my mouth: “I don’t have time“. As I was saying them I felt a both embarrassed and guilty, I knew it was not exactly true, but he just nodded and went on with something else. Later, before I left, he told me: “Look, if you feel like, come by… as soon as you said that you didn’t have time I realized it made no sense to insist, but you are young and I think it is important to tell you that those words are barely ever true, it is not that you don’t have time… it is that you have other priorities.“ I never came back and to this day I regret it.


Crawford Greenewalt, an engineer from USA who was the president of one of the biggest companies in the country, he certainly was not someone who could waste much time, however, he was interested in something that seemed a bit odd: he loved hummingbirds. He devoted one hour every day to study them and tried to develop special equipment to photograph them, his work became eventually a very valuable tool for those interested in the field.

Wilfred Cohen, who was one of the world´s leading clothing manufacturers, worked many years to reach the top of the business… but he wanted to paint, and that he did too. He took one hour off every day and paint, even though he had no reason to believe that that could take him anywhere. At 5 am he would take the brushes and do what brought him joy. Some years later he was selling his paintings and they were being exposed in different galleries. According to his words, nothing he had done in business had brought more joy than being able to see his dreams of painting become reality.

Even Franklin Delano Roosevelt found an hour a day to spend doing something as particular as lock himself away with his stamp collection. If we consider that he was in charge of a nation during some of its darkerst years, knowing that he found time to do that thing that brought spiritual peace seems to indicate that having no time is a matter of perspective.

Many more examples can be found. Writers, astronomers, readers, singers, cooks, athletes… the list is as long as types of activities there are. One hour a day, depending on the way we see it and what we do with those sixty minutes, the amount of time might seem shorter or longer. Watching a chapter of your favorite series consumes, usually one hour, a soccer game means around 120 minutes, but there is no way we can compare that to waiting 20 minutes until the bus arrives or 30 until our order at the restaurant is ready… or waiting for the dentist to come and invite us to sit on the chair of pain.


What matters at the end is that you do more than just what this big machine we are part of expects you to do. This world turns with or without us, which can be seen as something sad or actually freeing, because that means we can go to our dear places and do what we want, what makes us complete. One hour a day, 365 times a year means 45 whole eight-hour working days we will have to follow that dream, that illusion or hobby… a month and a half extra time we will have. It may require some sacrifices, getting up earlier or going to bed later, but if it is really what we want, it will certainly pay off. A step at a time… until you have reached the top of your hill.

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