Time is a helpful way to measure value. Have you ever really considered how you spend your Time, and been honest with yourself about the result? Does it measure what you value most? When you consider how you spend each hour of your day, it will give you a sense of what is really important to you, from the perspective of your actions.
Many of you will read this and would agree that you have taken stock of what is most important. The question is, do you find yourself spending most of your days on activities related to what is most important? or do distractions, social media, and activities such as meetings get in your focus?
This was a resounding question for me as I said goodbye to my mother, way before either of us was ready…one of those tough life experiences that creeps up on you when you are not ready and teaches you what is really important. Time quickly became a measure of value for me.
As I took stock of my priorities, what did I find was important?
- It was not the debate in meetings at work about what we were going to call a new product or what to focus on in an operations review, things that seem insignificant to me now
- Or the pile up of dirty dishes in the sink or on the counter at night, and
- Definitely not the feeling of being pressured to respond to an email I received on a Saturday, which was expected on Sunday
Yes, I am a recovering perfectionist…I used to think I could do it all, had to do it all, and all by myself with no input or help.
After my mother died, I found that above all, being present in any moment I am alive is what is really most important. And as I prioritize my many tasks of the day and choose what to focus on, spending time being still is a new top favorite. Being still drinking my coffee in the early morning on my back porch as I listen to the cardinals and finches chirp while the wind chimes make a joyful noise. This has not always been the case as the many demands of keeping up with work, the house, and two children on my own kept my days full and only the most important tasks got my attention. Yes, I forgot things sometimes along the way. As I tried to juggle the many demands and keep all the balls floating in the air at the same time, one would fall here and there. I had to accept the reality that I was human and not able to do it all by myself. Through a daily practice of giving myself permission to be OK that a ball would drop, I learned to ease the need to be perfect. I accepted that I am perfectly imperfect. And today, I am more focused on striving for excellence each day and letting the small stuff go.
I am a single parent of two and I learned post divorce fifteen years ago that our days felt like chaos if I woke up when my son and daughter did. I learned that waking up 30-45 minutes earlier and having my coffee alone made me a more relaxed human as my children awoke and quickly prepared to get out the door to school. That plan worked well for a while. I even learned that our high-strung lab puppy did much better to stay in her room, after eating and going outside, while I woke the children and took them to school. The craziness of the morning hustle as we inevitably discovered last minute requirements or worked through conflict of who needed what was too much for Coco. And then the teenage years progressed and time was more squeezed at the book ends. With soccer practice or games at night or Young Life meetings, sometimes my son’s only available time to talk was after 10 pm. I quickly figured out that teenagers have their own time table of when they want to talk and my choice was to be available on their terms, or I would miss out. Sometimes the talks would start at 11 pm. Waking up 30 minutes earlier before the kids, around 5:45 am, became tough some days, especially the 11 pm days.
As my son prepared to leave for college last fall, I am grateful that I prioritized those talks. The bond we developed working through the challenge of the day has served as a strong foundation as he created his own life and pushed his edges while away at college. As he re-entered our home over the holidays, it was a little bumpy at first as we each learned to create a new normal. Because of the investment he and I had made in spending time covering tough topics and being willing to give each other candid feedback, we were able to transition quickly to building a new way of interacting. As he starts the spring semester, I feel grateful for the investment of time, despite the many sleepless nights, and feel rewarded for choosing to measure value with time.
To learn more about my story of saying goodbye to my mother and the intimate conversations we shared, visit http://rebeccawmunnauthor.com/the-gift-of-goodbye/.