Carve Out Time for the People Who Matter Most
- Tuesday, August 12, 2008
"No man on his deathbed ever said, 'I wish I had spent more time at the office.'"
— The late Sen. Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts
When I married and 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 meet for lunch. Same place. Same time. And on the occasions when one of us cannot make it, we make it a point to see each other at some other time. Our lunch date ensures that we never become so busy that we go for weeks, living in the same metro area, without visiting with each other face to face. We visit at other times, too, of course, but we don't rely on happenstance and special occasions to see each other regularly.
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. For example, my husband and I carve out weekends to spend time together doing things we love with each other and people we care about. We also eat dinner together nearly every day. I make it my rule not to go more than four months without seeing my mother and little brother who live an hour-long plane ride away. And I have a couple of 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!
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