"No man on his death bed ever said, 'I wish I had spent more time at the office.'" - The late Sen. Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts
When I moved to Maryland in 2003, my father serendipitously received a promotion to move from Colorado to nearby northern Virginia. We had not lived in the same city since I graduated from high school and I was excited that he'd be just 20 miles away. Despite the close proximity, we both noticed something: We didn't actually see one another as often as we'd thought we would.
Have you ever noticed that life sometimes gets so busy that it gets in the way of what you say is most important? It's in those moments, that you must reassess your priorities and make sure your schedule reflects them. If you aren't intentional about how you spend your time, it will slip through your fingers without bringing you some of the experiences that make your life rich and fulfilling.
To make sure we made time together a priority, Dad and I decided to set a standing appointment. On Fridays, we met for lunch. Same place. Same time. And on the occasions when one of us couldn't make it, we made it a point to see each other at some other time. Our lunch dates ensured that we never became so busy that we'd go for weeks, living in the same metro area, without visiting with each other face to face. We visited at other times, too, of course, but we didn't rely on happenstance and special occasions to see each other regularly. I now live in Atlanta, and I am intentional about spending time with my family here.
This week, I invite you to take a moment to consider the people with whom you most want to spend time with on a regular basis. Then carve out some time and put strong boundaries around it. There is so much vying for your attention that you must be intentional about making time for your relationships. I make it my rule to visit with my family here in Atlanta and South Carolina regularly. I also have a few friends with whom I get together once a month or so. If we don't set a date, one of us calls the other to say, "Hey, it's time for us to get together."
To some, it may seem ridiculous to set appointments with yourself and the people you care about. Instead, I see it as a way to honor your most important relationships. In a world in which there is always something calling for your attention, it is essential that you take control of how you spend your time and put boundaries around the time that's meant for your most important priority - your relationships. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Invite friends or family over once a month for an old-fashioned Sunday dinner.
- Eat breakfast or dinner together as a family.
- Choose a weekly "date night" for you and your spouse or significant other.
- Have a "game night" with your children or friends.
- Choose a favorite pastime and schedule regular time to enjoy it with someone you want to spend time with consistently.
- Set a standard for how often you want to see loved ones who do not live in your area. Honor your standard by taking out your calendar and marking the dates.
- Carve out regular time just for you. Just as it is important to make time for the important people in your life, it's important to make time just for you, too!
- Come up with your idea by brainstorming with the person you want to carve out time for!
Living an inspired life means aligning your true priorities with your day-to-day actions. When you make time for your relationships, you'll notice that other less meaningful activities may fall by the wayside. Take a deep breath and let them go. You can't be all things to all people. Carve out time for the people who matter most to you. Enjoy!
With whom do you need to be more intentional about spending quality time? When, how and how often would you like to spend time with them?
My challenge to you this week:
Carve out time in your schedule for the people who matter most to you. Make that time sacred by setting boundaries around it that cannot be infringed upon by work, other people or less significant priorities.
Until next time...