We all believe we have time on our hands but this past week, a good friend of mine lost his father, and unfortunately for many of us it’s becoming an all too common occurrence as we enter this next phase of our lives. With so much pressure placed on us, it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day and not have the opportunities to connect and spend time with those whom we genuinely love and care about deeply.
It’s the wake-up call that often comes too late.
What will be your moment? When will you take that proverbial step back and ask yourself, “What are the most important things to me in my life?”
Trust me you’ll have it, just as I did during my father’s illness. Fortunately for me, I had the grace of spending six months rebuilding my relationship with him but it also gave me something much more. It gave me time to step back emotionally and ask the tough questions – the ones that needed to be answered from within.
I began re-evaluating everything in my life – the lack of work-life balance, my relationship with my two kids, the emptiness I felt with my job and constantly being on the road, my disconnected marriage and the lack of connection I felt, even to my own life.
It felt as though I had lost control, with who I was and what was most important to me. I was just going through the motions…and it sucked!
Re-evaluating your life is one thing, but it’s quite another to actually do something about it. This wake-up call enabled me to re-prioritize all the things in my life that were important.
So, what did I do? Great question and glad you asked!
I realized that I knew so very little about my parents (my mum died when I was 27) and only got a small snippet of stories and understanding before my dad passed away. I then began to worry that if anything happened to me while working away on business, my kids wouldn’t know anything about my life. So, I began documenting my own life stories for my kids so that they would be able to learn about the life I’ve led! 🙂
I decided to publish my stories in blog format so that my kids would always have access to them, and maybe even for their kids to share. This weekly blog has taken on a life of its own with over 600,000 readers from all over the world, but certainly not my objective when I started documenting my stories back in 2011.
My marriage ended, but over time, a new relationship has been forged with my ex with the ultimate outcome of having two well-adjusted, happy and independent adults who are both incredible human beings and are loved unconditionally by us both. That, unto itself is success in my books!
Next, I decided that I had to act with regard to my work and lack of life balance. My career as a management consultant working away from home for seven straight years had to change. I needed to be “present” and not the absent, guilt-ridden excuse for a parent I’d become. I was unable to come to a compromise with my existing company so I left and embarked on an independent journey to ensure I have “flexibility” with my eclectic working life, following my passions and spend more time doing the things that I want to do now rather than wait for the notion of “retirement”.
Not that I believe our generation or subsequent ones will have the luxury of retiring, so the question to myself was “what am I waiting for?” I’m pursuing all the things I want to do while I’m young enough and healthy enough to fully enjoy them.
As you know I have a rather strong sense of adventure…perhaps a slight understatement I confess.
Now to be fair these notions of living a life full of adventure geminated as a boy growing up in rural Australia where there was a distinct shortage of adventure.
I committed to following my dreams and living the life that I always wanted and it started with being the a great dad. After that my next priority was to travel as much as possible, exploring the world as I went. Now some seven years on I couldn’t be happier.
I realize my road isn’t for everyone, nor should it be, but I what I’m proposing is to try these three simple things that helped me enormously:
Be present. It’s time to turn off your mobile phone and not respond to email during your downtime. Be in the moment, particularly with those that you care about most. Define, set and communicate your new boundaries, ones that are practical and that you can keep.
Reflect. Self-reflection is a great exercise and one that can be incorporated into your daily or weekly routine. It can be as simple as taking a walk and investing in personal time to think and reflect about you, your life and what’s most important to you – this is priceless! Whatever you choose, make it a part of your schedule and place it in your calendar…then stick to it! Don’t cancel your appointment with yourself.
Prioritize. Understand and acknowledge who, and what are most important in your life! Demonstrate that they are a priority and put these things first. Talk is cheap – change only begins when you put action behind those words. This is especially true when you spend dedicated and undivided time with your kids.
To be clear, time is not on our side…so what’s your plan?