The Myth of “I don’t have the time”

The National Sporting Goods Association did a survey of inactive people (less than 25 days a year fitness activity) and active people (more than 150 days a year of fitness activity). The number one complaint of the inactive people was that they lacked sufficient time to workout. I know as a coach of both experienced and novice athletes, I hear the “time” excuse often. (Speaking of excuses, if you would like a list of excuses for not getting your workout in – click here.) I also notice that there are certain individuals who manage to get workouts in concert with other obligations.

Back to the survey – here is the kicker: The survey also found that there was virtually no difference in amount of actual free time between the two groups!

We all have the same 24 hours in a day and 168 hours per week. Well-to-do individuals cannot buy more. Less well off individuals are not short changed. Neither the intellectually gifted nor the mentally challenged get more. Meticulous detail oriented to-do listers do not get more time – netiher do fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants non-planners. Methodical plodders nor spastic multi-taskers get more time. And neither 20 year olds nor 52 year olds get more time. So, we have to delve deeper than the objective issue of time available.

I’m an observer of behaviors. I notice things like how much time someone will complain about something; during which they could have already done something about that complaint. I notice skewed perceptions of available time. How is it that 30 minutes is just enough time for some people to squeeze in a workout and others see it as not enough time to barely put on their running shoes?

I’ll offer these thoughts for your consideration:

Motivation – This is a very complex construct. But, if working out is not part of your value system you are working against the flow. Your motivation to “just do it” will gravitate towards “just do something else” at the first opportunity (just read some of the excuses available to you). Re-evaluate why you want to work out.

Inertia – A body at rest will stay at rest. Fatigue is real but once you stop and put your feet up – like at the end of a long day – odds are against you getting going again. Keep moving.

Priorities – This certainly relates to your motivation, but more specifically if you are one of those people who believe that “everything” is a priority then you will ultimately fail. You scatter your energy & time. You are no longer effective or efficient. Working out must be seen as time for yourself; time to “feed” yourself; time to rejuvenate yourself; time to do something for just you not everyone else in your life. Set priorities, not everything is #1.

Focus – This is an ever-present construct. What you focus on is what you get. Focus on time you don’t have and that will consume you. Focus on where you can squeeze in your workout and you will. Establish a workout focus. Establish a pre-performance routine to set the stage to get that workout in.

So, for today, I say to you – YES YOU – what is your motivation? What are your priorities? Where is your focus? How important is it to get in shape, lose weight or get ready for that next race? Just for today, regardless of how busy you are and limited your time – commit to getting out and doing your workout… just for today… MAKE the time.


About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
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8 Responses to The Myth of “I don’t have the time”

  1. longrunner says:

    Great post, well said. You have to make time. I travel ~4-5 days per week, am a committed father and husband, and still find myself hitting the road at 4:00 A.M. regardless of my where my travels take me.

  2. jim says:

    I didnt have time to read this blog

  3. C.L. says:

    Excuse #10. “I swam today” What swimming is not a “real” work-out?

  4. I’m so glad you mention that because I never really elaborated on how the list came to be. And so, I’ll be posting a more complete explanation of it. Thanks

    By the way.. it’s all in the eyes of the beholder. For that triathlete, yes, one workout was not sufficient to qualify as an excuse NOT to go run (or bike in his case).

    The point of the list is clearly demonstrate that anything can become an excuse. Those who have an over-riding purpose or reason for working out will simply not use an excuse… they will just do it.

    There are many what we might call “legitimate” excuses listed. Look down the list:
    #129 a stress fracture; #145 Brain cancer; #146 heart attack
    Very real.

    But let me share with eveyone something a little different about them:
    #129 – she did aqua-running and weights throughout her time off and came back fast
    #145 – she made many of those track workouts… on the same day as her chemo treatments
    #146 – was back running only weeks after the heart attack and racing within a couple months after

    THEY are the ones who put these “excuses” on the list, not me. Isn’t it interesting that they can find some motivation, even humor given the context of the kinds of things listed on this thing. It is these people who see the folly of everything becoming an excuse NOT to do something.

  5. Pingback: From Excuse to Motivation « The Running World According to Dean

  6. My husband and I both work, I work 50-60 per week, he works 40-45. I take two-three college classes per semeser. He has none.
    Yet somehow between work and studying (and most of the housework) I have time and he does not. Drives me nuts!
    Hate excuses. Good post.

  7. Dean Hebert says:

    You are so right. It’s something I see ALL the time when I do speaking engagements and in dealing with runners I coach. Of course, the runners soon learn I don’t have much patience with excuses.
    I may use your example in my next book!

  8. Pingback: From Excuse to Motivation « Everything Mental Toughness

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