The honking horn told me that it had happened again. Everyone else was already in the car and waiting on this teenager. The lecture was brewing. All the way to church I would be reminded that I was once again late, and that I was making the rest of the family late. I would be told that we were destined to walk in “just like the McCormick's,” the notorious family that habitually paraded in, single file, long after the service began. Never mind that they lived closest, just across the street.
So, with rollers still in my hair and makeup in my hand, I tumbled into my backseat position, and sought to create some semblance of decency out of the product of my tardiness. This was no fun. After all, who wants to be called ‘the cow’s tail’ even if the illustration is accurate?
My ancient teenage habits have undergone renovation, and maturity has been my friend, yet I remain time-challenged. I will be prompt for The Rapture or for my own funeral, depending on which comes first. However, between now and then, I must constantly be vigilant to arrive where I am going with punctuality.
The business of being tardy is like an albatross. It creates tension in personal relationships, and it reeks of selfishness. I disdain the sheepish apology I have to offer for making my friend wait at our lunch appointment. Excuses always abound, but they are just that - excuses.
I believe there are three groups of people surrounding this topic. My theory is that you are in one group and someone you love or work with is in a different group. The elephant in the room and in your relationship is the clock.
Group 1: Got it from the get-go
Honestly, some people are naturally gifted, and punctuality comes with ease. They always arrive early, and tend to have very little patience with those of us who missed out on this gifting.
Then, there is another.
Group 2: Gained it from the grind
These individuals have worked diligently to develop a consistent habit of being on time; they arrive exactly on the money, not one minute early, not one minute late. They have more patience with us, but are still baffled by our weakness.
Group 3: Got left out
That’s us, you and me. We did not get it as did the gifted, and we do not have it, as do the acquired.
This provokes the question: Is there a cure for our disease? Yes, I believe there is. I have discovered three significant perspectives, and they are inching me forward at my seasoned age of 65.
The first is a Scriptural Perspective.
“Teach me to number my days that I may present to You a heart of wisdom.” These words from Psalm 90:12 let me know how desperately I need the Holy Spirit. A sincere prayer to monitor my actions sets a tone of hope rather than a tone of defeat. Furthermore, the desired outcome becomes punctuality with a purpose rather than an accomplishment in a vacuum.
The second is a Practical Perspective.
Michael Hyatt points out there is no such thing as time management, just self-management.This is subtle but powerful. Time management will never set me free from this bad habit. Self-management will. The focus is taken off the clock and placed onto me. The clock does not need to change; I need to change. Growth can begin when I take ownership for my behavior, and take the blame off the clock. This is exciting, because new habits actually can take root. This offers hope.
The third is a Realistic Perspective.
The time in now for me to become master over the “one more” syndrome. Inside the psyche of you and me, punctuality is set at odds with productivity, and punctuality needs to become the priority. Let me explain.
From ~ To statements must transform my thinking.
I need to go…
• From insisting on doing one more thing ~ To stopping sooner, whatever it is that I am involved in
• From reading just one more chapter at bedtime ~ To turning out the light, even though the suspense is gripping
• From adding one more errand while I am still “out”~ To being at peace with waiting until tomorrow to complete my to-do list
• From making one more phone call ~ To being satisfied with what has already been accomplished
• From sending one more email ~ To closing my computer, leaving my office, and getting ahead of the traffic
• From seeking perfection with punctuality ~ To welcoming improvement, a much healthier and more realistic outcome
Reality Speak: Rarely will I ever be the first to arrive at a meeting. There will still be the occasional mad race to the airport. The Big Clock App will perpetually be needed on my iphone. I will always be glad when you are not early to my front door. However, I am confident that I can grow to experience more victory in an area previously plagued with defeat. Herein lies hope. And hope does not disappoint. (Romans 5:5)
Questions: Do you struggle with punctuality? What have you found to be helpful in overcoming this challenge?