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.