Intentional Living | Balancing family life and work | Creating a life you really love.

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Do you notice the clock seems to move faster in Dubai than anywhere in the world?  I grew up in London and Dubai still seems faster.  I am rushing, I appear busy, firefighting all day but not sure what I have achieved by the end of the day.  I am sure many of you can relate.

I get caught up between work, social and family life.  This constant juggling act is not easy.  A former business executive once said, ‘Imagine that you are juggling 5 balls.  Your work, family, friends, health and spirit.  The work ball is made of rubber.  If you drop it,  it will bounce back.  The other four are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged even shattered.  They will never be the same.  You must understand that and strive for it.’  This quote hit me hard.

I don’t make resolutions in January, my resolutions start in September.  The time we take off over the summer from Dubai and the free head space allows me to rethink and reevaluate certain lifestyle choices.  This year, I hope to be more intentional with everything including my time.  I am learning to say no (this is perhaps my biggest weakness) – it is not easy but I know and have witnessed the most successful people are focused on their priorities. I have had the blessing and luxury of too many options at times but I have had to reevaluate my priorities.  I don’t do many playdates but I instead plan playdates with my children for example.  This way I am totally focussed on them.  I now block out hours to work, saying no to meetings in between to ensure tasks are cleared.

Here are some top tips to staying on intentional living with your family and work – the aim is to create a life you really love:

#What are your values?  When I was first asked that question many years ago, I realised I had a hazy list but I wasn’t clear on it.  So we created one as a family and it makes easier to navigate through life.  This helps you live more intentionally and it makes it easier to set out goals and priorities.

#Figure out what you want to achieve as an individual or as a family.  It is amazing that we often don’t sit down to figure out what we want from life and it is easy to get to Christmas bobbing in the currents of the business of life and not one long-term goal has been achieved.  Having a set of goals actually does help.  Writing them down definitely helps it sink in making you more accountable.  Give yourself a deadline.  Be accountable.

#Write out your current daily schedule, and see where your time wasters and energy suckers are.  Mine are constant interruptions.  The phone, what’s app groups, door bells – I became aware these would break my flow of work or time with the children.

#Make small changes, and then repeat them so they become a habit.  For example, if you work, plan moments in the diary with your family so work doesn’t overtake these times.  Say no to social occasions or work related matters during these ‘meetings’ – do not reschedule these. Your family needs to be a priority – they will always remember the feelings of being put first, and they will remember the feelings of being put last.

#Be in the moment whatever you do. Learn to leave your phone between 3 – 7pm if you are with your children.  Or maybe allow yourself to check your phone only once in the time you have chosen to spend with your children.  When you are working, leave social media far away from your desk.

#Plan and book holidays as a couple and as a family.  Every adult can remember the top three holidays in their lives as a child.  It is the emotional experience you spend as a family that stays with each and everyone of you.

#Ask your children how they enjoy spending time with you.  It is not always about us directing the time allocated with the children but to always allow the child to direct and decide what makes them most happy when they are with us.  My older son loves cooking with me, my daughter loves a treat at Tips and Toes or baking  with me.  When I asked my four children,  they told me cuddles and hugs was the best (that’s always on tap for them). You get the idea.

#I have gone back to paper diaries.  I still use my iCalender on my phone but I also take the opportunity to write out my schedule on paper to help me be more time efficient.  It also makes me a bit more realistic about the chores I can complete in one day.  I even write dedicated times to writing on the blog again.

#I write out work times, cooking times, exercise times, times to pick up kids, time in the office, times I work from home.  Most of it is scheduled on a weekly basis.  It is placing the big rocks in my jar.  Then, adding the pebbles, sand and water.  Again, this is tricky so it is important to check in on a weekly basis.

#I constantly have papers and rooms to re-organise in the house.  I also now allocate time for that.  I try to do little and often.  In fact, this September, my other resolution is to declutter.  It has taken me a while but I have come to the conclusion that my children and I prefer a house where less is more.  When we had too many toys or items in the house, there was too much choice. The worst part is that no one wants them – they have no value – have any of you done a flea market sale? That showed me most of my household items were utterly worthless.   Maybe some of the items like clothes and shoes, but the toy situation is getting out of control. (my nanny doesn’t want them either but she is helping me send the toys to the less fortunate  back home). That overwhelming sensation crippled us rather than help us create.

#With my children, I also intentionally want them to have a love of reading.  This will give them the ability to teach themselves anything at any age.  John Maxwell, who wrote a book on Intentional Living said that he paid his children and grandchildren to read all the classics.   It is also a book that I recommend everyone reads (my mother made me and it was worth it). I am thinking about doing the same thing.  It is a gift I can give them.

#I also work with charities – no point talking about giving.  It is all about doing.  When I am 80-years old, there are certain things I want to look back on with no regrets.  I believe God blessed me so that I have the ability to bless others.  I always feel with young and under-privileged children that it could have been me or my children or any of us in the same situation.  It only takes one person to make a difference or to change a life.  At a recent dinner with two friends hot on philanthropy they mentioned something interesting. Did you also hear about the new definition of a millionaire? It is ‘someone who has impacted a million people in a positive way.’

#When we are 80-years old, we will never regret the time we spent with our children, our genuine friends, our spouses and family.  I am learning to say no to more things that don’t positively impact these people in my life.  We spend our 20s figuring it out, our 30s, filtering everything, and our 40s, we learn to say no.  I am now approaching this decade.  It’s time to grow up and say no.

I am still working on my lists.  It will always be a work in progress.  Last week two children were ill, and this week another two children were ill.  That also changed my schedule.  There also has to be some degree of flexibility.  However, I have noticed tiny changes that despite everything happening I am also more calm as I reallocate my time knowing that I have it in my diary to do.

My aim is to change I wish to I will.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018