July 06, 2012

When you look back on your life - what comes to mind? What memories do you treasure?

A hard-earned achievement? A special vacation from years past? A quiet moment with a loved one?

Many people in the children-at-home, working-full-time-plus category are living life so fast they're essentially missing it. You've heard it before, but it's worth repeating: Slow down and stop sweating the small stuff. Look at the big picture and enjoy the people in your life. Have meaningful conversations and truly BE present. Listen when your kids share their thoughts and emotions. Turn off the tv, unplug a few devices and chat with your spouse.

Your job provides for your family, but it is not more important than being active in raising them. You have great power to influence them – I'm sure you want your influence to be positive. They're watching and soaking in your example. They know where they rank in your priorities. Go ahead and let a couple hours slip by without reading email.

Also avoid another extreme – putting your kids and their assorted sports, activities and social life above your own. Don't lose your own identity when you have school-age kids. Schedule in your own interests and allow yourself a hobby or quiet escape. Stay in touch with your spouse – remember why you got married or when the kids start leading their own lives, you might be left feeling disconnected and lonely. Make opportunities for the two of you to re-appreciate each other's good qualities and romance one another.

Take long walks. Its a natural phenomenon that helps you collect your thoughts when you're alone and it draws people out when you're in company. If you have children, take them one at a time and ask them open-ended questions. Appreciate what you discover. Invite your mother, uncle or friend on a stroll – stengthen bonds and be a good listener. Think of questions in advance. Ask your older relatives to share stories about their life in decades past – "What was it like to __________?"

Above all, don't let your life be a blur. Trim the fat out of your calendar. Sit down and prioritize using The Big Picture. If nothing can change this week, then strategize to make it happen soon. When you reach retirement, you'll be one of the happy, satisfied ones. It's worth it!

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