CAT | Family
Did you ever have one of those days when something “hits you?” You know it’s been coming for a long time, but it didn’t hit you until today.
These are the little pieces of our lives we need to hold on to and remember.
Today I made my way to the airport so I could fly to antoher town and teach a seminar. Like I did four weeks ago. Like I’ve done a dozen times this year. Like I’ve done a hundred times before.
Except . . .
Except today my daughter — age 16 — drove me to the airport. I knoew she was getting older. I knew she’d be 16 some day. I knew she’d get more freedoms over time. I knew all of this would happen.
But I never considered the fact that some day I would rely on her for something so simple and she would be offering to make my life easier.
It just hit me.
I suppose twenty years from now, none of this will make any difference. But today I have a realization that my girl is growing up, that I can rely on her, and that is enjoying more freedom every day.
If you’ve ever looked at pointillist artwork, you’ve seen that a great big picture can be made from a series of colored dots. Each dot is just a dot. One red, one blue, one black. But when you stand back and look at the big picture, the dots make up a beautiful mural.
Take away a dot — forget a dot — and you miss out on some of the beauty of the overall picture.
You life is just like that. These events make up your the mural of your life.
Take the time to take a breath, step back, and realize that this is happening.
Even if you’re rushing to catch a plane!
Translating your personal mission into your daily life.
In earlier posts (December, January), we discussed values and principles. They are literally the foundation for your goals. From this base we built a vision or mission statement.
Here’s the hierarchy:
The obvious next question is, How do you translate your personal mission into your daily life?
In truth, all of your work so far has been theoretical. You hold certain values. You know this is more important than that. But it is rare for you to face a choice between high-level theoretical values (e.g., accountability, professionalism, or thoughtfulness).
So, let’s dig into the practical.
The next step is to identify the roles you play in your life. These might include spouse, parent, employer, employee, student, community member, community leader, and so forth.
Spend your morning Quiet Time identifying the most important roles you play in your life. Pick three to five. For most people, the temptation is to identify ten or twelve. And that might be useful. But for practical purposes, you need to identify the 3-5 most important roles you play.
You as an Individual
One choice you do not have is this: You must include the role of you individually, without regard to others. Most roles we play involve other people. You are a spouse to your spouse. You are an employee to your employer. You are a parent to your child.
And, again, most of the values we identify are related to our relationship with others (e.g., commitment, honesty, or service).
The result is that we tend to only consider ourselves in light of our relationship with others. Many positive traits come out of this. But it also has a drawback — we tend not to give ourselves the attention we deserve. We end up living for others, to the detriment of ourselves.
So one of your roles needs to be you as you.
Let’s work with the following example:
- You as self
- You as spouse
- You as employee
- You as community member
Once you’ve defined 3-5 primary roles for yourself, you’re ready to begin the work of setting goals for each of these roles.
Again, you need to dedicate a lot of morning quiet time to this process. Take it seriously. Don’t push it. You have the rest of your life.
Consider: What do you want to accomplish, personally (without regard to spouse, children, boss, parents, etc.)?
What do you want to accomplish personally?
What do you want to accomplish as a Spouse?
What do you want to accomplish as an Employee?
What do you want to accomplish as a Community Member?
For each of these, consider
- What are the long-term goals?
- What are the intermediate (1-3 year) goals?
- What are the short-term (0-12 months) goals?
And most important of all . . .
- What one thing can I do, in each area, to advance these goals today?
Now here’s the bad news. Most people who read this will think it makes sense.
But they’re too busy. They don’t have the time. It’s not for them.
And most importantly — It looks like a lot of hard work.
You would think that Opportunity would be the most welcome guest in any house. But when he shows up wearing work clothes, most people won’t open the door to him.
There’s a lot of work here. True. But the rewards are phenomenal! Lasting personal happiness. A fulfilling family life. An enjoyable work environment.
It’s true. Once you focus your attention on the things that matter to you, you can’t help yourself. You will begin thinking differently. You’ll consider your actions more carefully. And you’ll start working toward your goals.
My low-maintenance hobby is gardening.
By low-maintenance I mean that I can do it when I feel like it and ignore it when I’ve got other things to do.
Sit down for this statistic. I don’t have a large yard. We’ve been in this house for five years. I’ve spent more than $30,000 to create the yard I want. And the result? My wife and I LOVE our yard.
We go there. We do things in the yard. We have people over. We see humming birds and butterflies almost every day. We have plants that only bloom two weeks out of the year. And we enjoy them for every day of those two weeks.
But sometimes we get too busy.
I have two Monster rose bushes. One is an amazing lavender color (guys: that’s a light purple) and the other is a great dark red. There are other roses, but these two are on either side of my weeping ornamental cherry tree. And these roses are almost as big as your head.
I’m not kidding. These are “freakin’ huge” roses. And I let the bushes get to be about six feet tall. So they’re massive and awe-inspiring. People as me whether I’ve fed them steroids or something.
But this year, at the very height of their first bloom, I have been four different cities and run all over the place. I’ve literally been too busy to stop and smell the roses. And I realized this afternoon that the spectacle is beginning to fade. The super explosion is almost over.
And I just about missed it.
The good thing about roses is: They’ll keep blooming. They’ll give me another chance.
Maybe that’s what I like about gardening. I always get another chance.
My daughter’s 16th birthday is this weekend. So I’ll be around for sure. But she’s going to have a bunch of friends over, so I won’t really be welcome to hang out with them all day.
Where will I be? I’ll be pruning the roses and the bottle brush bushes. I’ll refill the bird feeders. And I might replace a couple of straggling plants that bring more irritation than joy.
But I won’t feel left out of the birthday party either. For some miraculous reason, God has given us a daughter who says she loves us — in front of her friends. She talks to us about problems. She schemes with us about jobs and friends and school.
The good news for me is: I can put my attention somewhere else for a few days here and a few days there and my relationship with my daughter will still be good. Just like the garden. I can put my attention somewhere else and it will be fine.
But if I turn my attention away at the wrong time, or for too long? Well, I’ll miss something important.