Yesterday I started reading the book Simplify by Bill Hybels (a good read that I encourage any parent, fathers in particular to pick up). The book asks, are you over scheduled, exhausted, overwhelmed? That certainly sounds familiar to me. If so, Hybels encourages readers that life won’t simplify itself, it’s up to us to act. Who tends to be more stretched than parents, particularly working parents with young children (Case in point, I started reading the book yesterday at my daughter’s gymnastics practice..got to get the time in when you can right?)
Here’s what I’ve been learning thus far. There’s a sweet spot for each of us, and finding your stride will usually require a bit of ruthless prioritization along with some deep values alignment of how we spend our time. Much of what I’ve read thus far is common sense (which we all know isn’t all too common sometimes). But really, how often do we overlook the simplest things simply because it’s not screaming at us with the sense of urgency of everything else in our lives.
Think about it, by the time you’re usually even ready to read a book like Simplify, you’ve probably been living on the edge of sanity for quite some time. I know I have. This has been a tremendously difficult, exhilarating, stretching, and overall roller coaster ride of a year for me and my family. And it’s not over yet. So I know I needed help. You can tell in how you respond to people, how irritated you get with little things, how excited you are about the things that usually enthuse you. If you don’t have the energy in the tank to take things in stride, then chances are that you’re not actually finding your stride. This book will help.
Ok, enough of the commercial break. One thing that I’ve discovered, in particular for dads given the weight of the world that sometimes can be on our shoulders, is the practice of describing who we are at our best. So, here are a few questions to help you think about, who are you at your best, and what should you be doing to maintain this all important stride.
- When you’re meaningfully prioritizing the right things (to you), feeling fulfilled in the areas of your life that matter, and making valuable contributions to your kids future and your family, what does that stride look like? How does it feel?
- What kinds of things are you doing to maintain it?
- What are the enemies to this sweet spot for you, your time sucks, your energy deflators?
- How do you combat those?
Sometimes finding the answers to these questions is foundation enough for simplifying our lives.