“It is difficult to overstate the unimportantance of practically everything.”
As parents, our lives are just naturally busy.
Things change without warning.
Distractions are limitless!
It’s no wonder that research, articles, and books are constantly noting that we, as a society (and as parents), have essentially traded long-term thinking in for short-term, “just-make-it-through-the-day” thinking. And it’s not serving us well. The minute we start thinking about something we want to begin addressing long term, we get distracted by an email about soccer practice changing times and the consequences of that on the rest of our day. In the process we often don’t get back to the important, long-term thinking.
If the above quote is true and there are few things in life that are truly essential – few that truly matter, then how do we train ourselves to begin to invest time into those things and ignore the noise?
“People overestimate what they can do in one day and underestimate what they can do in 10 years.”
First, we need to quit putting so much pressure on today and remember that what is done over time is more important. Not only is it more important, it has a longer shelf life. If we are willing to do small things over time, the cumulative effect will be far greater than what we can accomplish in one moment. Anyone else tried to download an entire life lesson in a moment of frustration? It’s been building and next thing you know you lecturing your child on a major life lesson in the checkout line at Target. You ultimately know this doesn’t work, but you desperately want them to be growing into the right type of person, so all the pressure falls on getting it right today. However, major life lessons are best served over time.
(Check out 6 Things Over Time Every Kid Needs for more on this idea.)
Second, identify one thing that you believe is essential and start to work on it. Just pick one at this point. Remember, since we are no longer overestimating what can be done in a day and we are done with underestimating cumulative effect, we are going to be starting really small and trusting this will build over time. So, pick one thing that has value in the long-term and identify one small thing you can do today to start working on it. (Our brains actually work against us here, check out Play the Long Game to learn more.)
Third, remove some distractions. Bob Goff is someone I greatly admire and he has a great way to help us here – it’s called Quit Thursday. The idea is simple, every Thursday look for something you can quit. It’s funny how when you start doing it you look forward to Thursday and figuring out what else you can quit. I’ve quit some small bad habits, but I’ve also made some big decisions. Most recently I’ve deleted a time sucking app on my phone and quit watching a TV series that was stealing too much valuable time. Bob has resigned from a Board on a Thursday. The possibilities in our distracted lives are endless…So, what are you going to quit this Thursday?
Here’s what I know to be true – you have what it takes! You are more than capable of accomplishing incredible things, especially as we take the pressure off getting it all right today and leveraging the cumulative effect of time.