Two weeks ago I was in a position that a lot of parents would envy – I had 10 days to myself whilst my wife and daughter went overseas to celebrate my mother in laws 60th. This was the first time in a long time we would be apart for so long and so I knew that I would miss them immensely. However I didn’t quite anticipate how it would all pan out and the struggle to get things done and also how I felt. In short I got a lesson in seizing the moment…let me give you some context.
As I mentioned this was the first time my wife and daughter were going to be away from me for this long. When they are around life is hectic to say the least. In between my corporate career, spending time with them, helping out around the house AND building Workspired there’s little time for much else. And so given they weren’t around for a week I thought I’d be a hell of a lot more productive with Workspired whilst also having a bit more time for social activities. This couldn’t have been further from the reality of what happened…
I found that given I didn’t have a set timeframe for anything I got very lazy. When the family is around I might have say an hour to write and publish a post or to update my site. And so when they weren’t around and there weren’t any timeframes I could do whatever. And so what did I do – I ended up catching up on TV dramas like Suits and Criminal Minds, because I could. Once I finished one episode, I watched another, and another until I finally realized time was running out and I had to get things done. Ironically because I had bludged and left things to the end, I pretty much had the same amount of time to get things done as when they are around!
Needless to say I was pleased that the return of the family also saw an uptick in my productivity. What I also noticed was when they got back our 19 month daughter was different. They say kids change a lot however it was striking how much she had changed in such a short timeframe.
Firstly she has quite a huge vocabulary for her age however she’s a bit hit and miss with her yes’s (or “yest” as she says it) and no’s. If we were to ask her if she’s hungry or if her nappy is wet I reckon there was a 50/50 chance of what she says matching reality. When they got back after their week away I noticed that her strike rate had improved quite significantly to where she’s probably around the 80/20 mark with her “yest’s” and “no’s” – which I can tell you as a parent can make such a big difference when it comes to feeding or nappy changes.
Secondly our daughter has always been a picky eater. When she was away her routine was completely out of whack. My wife tells me that feeding had become a massive issue because there was just too much excitement. Knowing our daughter she probably thought eating food would cause her to miss out on the excitement of the moment! Coming back to Melbourne we’ve been trying to restore her routine. We’re doing pretty well on most fronts but food still seems to be a work in progress. We’ve experienced our fair share of tantrums with food flung across the table, straight onto the floor or even at us!
In summary my daughter was away for a week and she made 2 pretty significant behavioural changes.
When I registered this it dawned on me how important seizing the moment is. That time when she had a 50/50 strike rate with her “yest’s” and “no’s” is probably forever gone. Yes it led to lots of unnecessary nappy changes or extra food for daddy (because she didn’t actually want what she said she wanted) but that moment in our life is now in the past. And so I realized not only do I need to cherish the moment but I also need to seize it rather than contemplate the past (it’s gone!) or plan for what may or may not happen in the future (it’s not here!).
The 2 things I said I could do to start seizing the moment more are a) taking small action, and b) stop thinking too much.
With taking small action I realized that I was always looking for the home run play to use a sport analogy. I wanted to make sure that every action resulted in some fantastic outcome. And so I would plan extensively so I could take a really big step hoping that it would translate to results which some times it did, but often it didn’t. And so what I said to myself was to make a shift I was going to just take any small action and keep doing it till it went somewhere. It’s like the serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk says ‘just do’.
With overthinking I found that I was constantly analyzing things so much so I would tally up strong rationale for doing something and equally logical reasons for NOT doing something. At that stage I’d be so flustered not knowing what to do, I would end up making a decision pretty much based on a coin flip. So I said to myself if I ended up making a decision on a coin flip why not cut out all the analysis and jump straight to the coin flip? Ok I didn’t quite take it this far but I’ve cut down my analysis time significantly which has seen me take swifter action and then course correct based on feedback.
And so with taking small action and thinking less I find myself seizing the moment a bit more than I did before. If the week away from my daughter has taught me anything it’s that things can change very quickly, and all we have is the moment we are in.