Time To Think

When my kids are lit up in the house, I have trouble hearing – thinking is impossible.

Recently, I presented ideas on how to manage a small consulting practice – the talk was about the ‘business of coaching’ and it centered on tips for managing one’s self. A key concept from the talk was to “choose one good idea and do it on Monday.” While I hope the audience was able to find something useful in the talk, I bet that the implementation rate was less than 10%. 

In my life, when I want to think strategically, I remove everything. In my 30s, my job required extensive travel so air travel was my chance to pause, and think. With kids, and a reduced travel schedule, I have to be strict with myself to create unstructured time.

In our marriage, we schedule couple’s retreats to give ourselves time to pause and think about the family’s direction. In my personal life, my cycling (alone, relaxed pace, no music, no phone) gives me blocks of undisturbed time. In Colorado, I ride low-traffic rural routes so I don’t need to be alert to traffic all the time.

To create the space to think in 2012, I did the following:

  • Reduced my consulting workload by 80%
  • Hired the equivalent of two full-time domestic employees
  • Halved the time I spent training
  • Doubled the time my daughter spent at school

This enabled me to see the areas of greatest value-addition for my family:

  • Quadruple the time I spent with my kids
  • Help maintain my wife’s sanity
  • Write 100 articles – writing is the only way we can live beyond our deaths
  • Triple my days spent visiting with key family

The above are big wins for my family, but fall outside of typical Boulder success metrics:

  • family finances
  • personal beauty
  • athletic glory
  • consumption tweeted or posted to Facebook

I’ve been trained to make money and seek consumption – those habits are reinforced by everything around me. The only place I’m safe is riding my bike in the forest and, frankly, I’d like to upgrade my bike!

In 2008, we changed because I lost my job. This time, the family changed before a crisis arrived. Thinking back a year, I remember my wife commenting that we should wait until we “had” to move (somewhere between 5 years and never).

I had a hunch that the changes would take the family to a better place.

Time will tell.

Failure To Anticipate

One of my decision making games is to think about what I missed over the last year, and ten years.

Failure to Anticipate

 

Interest rates

 

Enjoy spending time with young kids

 

How much stress I was generating via noise and being focused on personal productivity rather than the larger goals of my family. Had this early in my career when I changed investment teams.

 

The breadth of corruption and complicity at the top of elite sport.

Not Feeding My Habit

I was thinking about calling this piece Take Back Your Mind but I didn’t notice that I’d lost control of mine until after I made certain changes. Even then, I have less emotional control than I think. Most of my inner life runs on autopilot.

 

The decision to avoid anonymous chat forums was relatively easy for me to make. The tone of the discussion was usually toxic and triggered negative emotions in me.

 

Listening to my internal chatter about Facebook was similar and I never liked the push nature of their email client. Why does a red number in a circle trigger such an urge to click through!

 

We like to think that we’re different but the click rates of sites like Facebook, People.Com, TMZ.com show us that drama is attractive. I tell myself that these sites don’t attract me but I’m more similar, than different, to my wife. The voyeur inside me isn’t that strong but I still have stories that I tell myself.

 

With the Internet, I tell myself that I have to stay plugged in because I need news for good decisions. It is essential to ‘stay informed’.

 

Another story I tell myself is that I have to connect via social networks to be successful in business and have friends.

 

Consider what you tell yourself.

 

What is the perceived payoff from constant connectivity?

 

Name one thing that would benefit your life, if you only had time.

 

I’ve been looking deeply at my Internet play book.

 

In October, I went the next step and paused triathlon sites as I was worn out by the willfully blind vs the hateful. In November, I added bicycling.com after Jens’ reasoned decision was one apologist too far for me. Three weeks later, I expanded to everything but The Onion. This leaves me getting my news via twitter trends and a daily news summary email. I’m

much better informed about Justin Beibler, which could be a good thing with two daughters…

 

When I’m tempted to plug in, I ask myself, what decisions do I need to make in 2013 and how best to stay informed?

 

Here they are:

 

What price to sell my old house – zillow

Leadville rent, buy or hotel – stay variable unless very compelling

Lex kindergarten early – either way likely ok

What preschool for Ax – google search and talk with my wife

 

None of the above has downside risk that could change my family’s life.

 

Move on hold until 48 – using short trips to sate the need to travel

 

Amazed at the amount of time on my hands by reducing my feeds. Just like when I stopped drinking.

 

Notifications

Auto notify

Push messages esp email

 

While it is embarrassing to consider the amount of time I used to spend on nothing… I’m probably not alone.

 

Choose Wisely.

 

Need less sleep

Changed icon location and browser on iPhone

 

Making Good Calls

Five decisions that changed my life

 

Living in places of natural beauty

 

Consistent Saving

 

Do It, Do It Right or Don’t Bother

 

Partner with a kind woman who shares my sense of humor and creates a desire for self-improvement

 

Financial stability, personal achievement then children