Over the course of my 18 years as a psychotherapist in private practice in West Hollywood, California, I’ve come to utilize a number of phrases that summarize the wisdom of various theorists from Sigmund Freud, the “founder” of psychotherapy, to Louise Hay, an 80’s New Age inspirational author. But, also along the way, I’ve developed a few phrases of my own, “Ken-isms” I like to call them, based on my many observations, that have helped many people in various classic problem situations that I see over and over. Perhaps my favorite concept in treatment is “self-empowerment” (which is the name of my upcoming book, Self-Empowerment: Have the Life You Want!), because I believe in helping people empower themselves to improve their quality of life in various areas, such as your health, mental health, relationships, career, and finances. One of my favorite “Ken-isms” is encouraging my clients to spend their resources of Time, Energy, and Money according to their Values, Priorities, and Goals. What does this mean? Let’s take each one of those six elements:
Time – We hear a lot about “time management”, meaning that time is the great equalizer in that we all get 24 hours in a day, so the variable is how we “manage” those hours. As a resource, time is especially precious because it can’t be stored, sped up, slowed down, or reversed. Once it’s spent, it’s gone. To control how we spend our time, we need resolve, determination, control, and a clear vision of our values, priorities and goals.
Energy – Energy, in the personal sense, relates to our physical stamina, and our ability to focus our energy on a specific task. This can vary based on our age, genetic makeup, and other individual differences. Just like there are only so many hours in a day, we each only have so much energy to give; it’s a finite resource and we need to choose its expenditures carefully.
Money – Unlike Time and Energy, money is a potentially unlimited resource at our disposal, depending on our life circumstances. And, unlike Time and Energy, it can be a tangible resource that we can hold and touch in the form of currency. But for most of us, it is indeed a finite resource, and like Time, we must spend it carefully in order not to squander it.
Values – While the word “values” has been corrupted and sullied by the Right Wing with the term “Traditional Family Values”, a euphemism for antigay bigotry and hatred, there are humanistic and positive values as well. When we expend our resources of Time, Energy, and Money according to our values, we are controlling the expenditures in accordance with a set of guiding philosophies. For example, I don’t spend money at Wal-Mart because their corporate policies are in violation of my social and political values. I don’t spend time watching football because that’s in violation of my values of the hobbies I’m interested in. I do spend energy on working out, because that’s in line with my values of taking care of my body.
Priorities – Our priorities in life are the things that, relative to other things, we hold in high esteem and importance. There aren’t enough resources to expend equal amounts of resource on all things, so we must have priorities. If there isn’t enough time in an evening to pay my bills online and go to the gym, I might skip paying bills as long as they’re not overdue, because I’m making the gym a priority of how to spend my time. If I don’t have the energy to both clean the kitchen and reorganize the closet, I might clean the kitchen since that’s a daily priority.
Goals – Our goals are the short-term and long-term visions that we have for ourselves to make our lives satisfactory. If we are going to reach future goals, we need to regulate and expend our resources with those goals in mind. If my goal is to lose 2 inches off my waist, I need to expend time at the gym working out, money to renew my gym membership, and energy to complete certain exercises. The consistent application of our resources, over time, is what helps us reach our goals.
Whenever we feel out of control in our lives, and it feels like things just “aren’t going well”, it probably means we have to be more disciplined about spending our resources of time, energy, and money according to our values, priorities and goals. We need to remind ourselves, as we discipline ourselves, that we are responsible for our lives, we are calling the shots, and it’s up to us to focus on what we want to achieve. While being more disciplined can feel like work, it’s actually in our best interest to do it. We feel more in control, and more empowered. If you practice this “Ken-ism” consistently, you can move toward your goals and… Have the Life You Want!
(To book a free, 15-minute consultation, or to schedule an appointment for therapy or coaching, call/text 310-339-5778, or email Ken@GayTherapyLA.com).