My name is Michelle and I have a problem. No, I'm not a alcoholic, I'm habitually late. I've always been late for as long as I can remember. This problem bothered me some, mostly I was bothered by the consequences of being late to important events. Mainly I accepted it as a personality flaw and went about my life. You can't change who you are, right?
Last year in writing my goals, I set a personal goal to be more on time during 2011. And guess what some amazing things happened. Not only have I made some great improvements in this area. I now often show up early to meetings or events. There is nothing that makes a person who has been habitually late more happy than to be the first person to show up to a meeting or event. In the past 6 months I've often been the first one to show up to meetings with friends or events. Just this week hubby and I were the first ones to show up to the hospital tour and even beat the instructor there. Once it was 3-4 minutes before and none of the other 6 couples or instructor were there I even began to wonder if we were in the right place. Waiting for other people who are late doesn't bother me in fact it makes me happy to be the first one there. Each time is a tiny triumph for this formerly habitually late person.
So what have I been doing differently? There still aren't enough hours in the day. I still want to try to finish one last thing before I leave. I still underestimate how long it takes me to finish that one last thing. I also still underestimate how long it takes me to get places. The biggest thing I've changed in the past year is building in a time "buffer". If I think it will take me 15 minutes to get somewhere I plan to leave 30 minutes before. This way if I leave 5 minutes late and hit 5 minutes of traffic, I'll still be a few minutes early. If I think it will take me an hour to get ready for something I give myself an hour and half. It has been working great for me. Every time I have somewhere to be I add some extra time onto my leaving time and have been really successful at not being late. Sometimes I'm right on time or a few minutes early, sometimes I'm 10 minutes or more early, and sometimes I'm still late but the improvement for me personally has been amazing.
Giving myself more time to get places and get ready has really lowered my stress level. Since I was habitually late I didn't stress about it too much since it was my way of life. Now that I am on time or early 8/10 times I realize how much less stressful being early or on time is. Hubby generally runs on time so I think being more on time has made him happier too.
You too can recover from your habitual lateness. It just takes some extra planning and thought on your part and a desire to make being on time a priority. I'm not perfect but I love the improvements I've made and continue to delight on each on time or early arrival I make. Next time we meet for coffee, don't worry I'll be there 5 minutes early and silently delighting in my little triumph.