How many times have you sent that text or email that begins with, “So sorry! Will be a few minutes late!” or the one that reads, “Be there soon!” or the silent “So sorry!” when you run into yoga and throw your mat down to meet everyone halfway through sun salutations.

Let’s be honest. Most likely, it wasn’t about the traffic, the metro, the weather or the call that went late or the meeting that lasted longer than expected. It could have just as easily been about you.

Here’s what I’m talking about: You get to be the one in charge of your life and you are responsible to make your life’s choices. Despite it seeming like some choices are made for you, they’re not. You always have a choice. Sure, things can happen that you may not have expected or intended, but there you are — late for the next meeting, encounter, class or connection.

I get it. I have been there and been late so many times in my life and likely disappointed, annoyed or frustrated a lot of people. There was no need to shame or blame myself for being late. That never helped. But, there was an opportunity for me, and now for you, to grow from it. You get to decide where you go from this moment forward — how you want to show up, not just for others but also for yourself, your life and your career.

The “Why” Behind Being Late

When people are constantly late or running behind, it often comes from a fear of living life without chaos or deeply-rooted beliefs about themselves that have either been learned or suggested to them. It can vary from a belief that the world is happening to them and they are always a victim, to a belief that no one else “gets” their life or incredibly important career, needs, etc.

I have worked on my own self-sabotaging patterns, including that of being late, and after years of working with clients in my wellness and empowerment coaching practice, I’ve found that many of these behaviors boil down to a sense of self-worth — a worth where you believe you can live and experience your life without chaos. It’s a trust that you are worthy of having it all and that your life can be less complicated and more graceful.

… I’ve found that many of these behaviors boil down to a sense of self-worth — a worth where you believe you can live and experience your life without chaos.

The “How” to Stop Being Late

If you are willing to acknowledge the choices you get to make and create every day, then you will see how you get to choose to start showing up. How open are you to shifting? Are you willing to look at your patterns? Do you want to stop being late? Can you ditch the excuses and own your life and your choices?

When you invest in yourself and you own your choices, even if it means being late sometimes, you connect to your emotional needs and your worth. That is where everything can change.

watch kerchief

Here are some tips and exercises to get you started:

Morning Manifestation

In the morning, make a list of all you intend or desire to do that day. The act of setting up your day before it begins can make all the difference in how you show up to it.

Just Say No

Be willing to say no whenever if feels right. If you have a hard stop for a class, your next meeting, an event or even getting home to make dinner with your bestie, be willing to say no to the other person who wants just a few more minutes of your time. Of course, there may be times when you say yes, but it’s just as important to say no.

Grace Period

Try leaving 15 minutes early and adjust your day to see how it feels to get places on time without the scramble. Key tip: If there’s one thing, event or person you’re always late for, make an extra effort to be on time.

Start Slowly

There’s no need to overwhelm yourself by starting everything at once. Perhaps you try two new things every week to be on time for and then just observe how you feel arriving and receiving the peaceful entrance.

Try this exercise: Write out all of the things you are normally or are regularly late for in life. It could be lunch with friends, a business meeting or even a yoga class.

Now, write a (*) or (X) next to each item. A (*) goes next to the things you love doing and are late for anyways and an (X) goes next to the things you dislike or possibly even hate doing that you’re late for regularly.

As you look at this list, begin to write out and connect to what you make excuses for that you feel ready to shift. Notice if any feelings of chaos, frustration or sadness come up for you. What do you want to give yourself time for that you relinquish for other reasons? Look at what you are late to and see where you can make new choices.

There’s always choice. You are the leader, the decider, the achiever and the common denominator of your life. Nobody does late to you. It’s your time to show up for your life and your dreams. Don’t be late!

Is being late an issue for you? What steps do you take to be more on time?

Images via Monica Friese


  1. One day, a dear friend of mine sent me an article about Time-optimists. I am mostly late by 5-15 minutes but that is enough time to ruin others time. I have trouble calculating how much time things take, and I am often optimistic of how long things take – even for my morning routine.
    One of the things that I will take away from this article is trying to arrive to a meeting/date 15 minutes before we agreed. Being able to feel the relief of not disappointing anyone and the uplifting feeling that you get when having enough time on your hands.

  2. There are so many layers to this issue. I’m also a daydreamer who has struggled with being on time. While daydreaming is vital to my creative process, it’s no excuse for showing up late and inconveniencing others. If you’re open to examining the reasons for this pattern, you will find it is a form of self sabotage; a way of preventing yourself from succeeding. It is procrastination. At some point a daydreamer has to become a doer if those dreams are to become materialized.

    The best way for me to be on time is to look forward to my appointments with childlike zeal while being rigorous about planning them. If a package has to be mailed by a 3pm cutoff, I simply cannot arrive a minute later. So I prioritize and look forward to having that package ready so that my customers will receive their orders and I will be free to daydream again.

    Practice makes perfect. There is a definite pattern and rhythm to being on time. Even a daydreamer can get into the beauty of that zone.

  3. This is super helpful, especially the part about giving oneself buffer time. I’ve found that the times I am late often have to do with underestimating just how long it takes to do things, but in these cases what we choose to try and squeeze into our day is ultimately up to us.

    Thanks for this!

  4. This seems a bit over-dramatic. I’m late because of my self-worth? I’m a victim of the word? I’m afraid of living without chaos… sorry, but what?

    I am one of those people who is constantly a few minutes late for everything, no matter what. I can wake early up at 6am or late at 8:30am and I will arrive to work 5 minutes late in both situations, but it’s not because I crave chaos in my life or believe things are out of my control… it’s more likely that I overestimate how much I can do in a given period of time. Some people are just daydreamers who live in their heads and don’t have a good sense for how much time has passed, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    1. There’s nothing wrong with being less aware of how quickly time passes, but being late can have consequences.

    2. I also think “craving chaos” is a bit over dramatic. A vast majority of people, including myself, have anxiety disorders where they are forced to feel chaos, and would do anything to get rid of that feeling. This article isn’t worded generic enough to fit any group of people. Don’t tell me what I’m craving. leaving the house takes a little extra work and there is nothing wrong with that. I work through it, everyone works in their own ways. The tips on how to time manage are great, but there is no need to belittle a persons self worth, or tell them what kind of chaos THEY “want/need” to feel. that is not very darling at all actually.

  5. I used to be the late queen of my friendship group – my friends are still that way, I think we rubbed off all wrong on each other in terms of time management. I remember once I had to wait one HOUR for a friend at the airport because we had a plane to catch! We’re all slowly getting better though, will definitely share these tips around.

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

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