Deanna and I have a Black Friday tradition. During our extended weekend visit with my family, we leave our girls with my mom and head to a movie and dinner together. It’s a great time to connect in the midst of a season of gratitude. On our date in 2017, Deanna gave me one of the most fruitful hard truths of our marriage (there’s a reason I often refer to her as my live-in leadership coach):
“You expect everyone around you to be intentional with their lives and actions, but you don’t hold yourself to that same standard.”
This might sound harsh, but it wasn’t out of the blue and it was spoken in love. It also had the added virtue of being completely true. See if this list looks at all familiar:
- Each work day was handled as it came with no real plan
- I ate poorly and rarely exercised
- I read few books or articles that brought new ideas or techniques
- I was stuck in a rut, not moving forward or growing
I honestly had no idea what to do about it. The rut I’d worn was so deep and I felt trapped in a cycle that just took me day to day, week to week, moth to month with little significant to show for it. I wasn’t doing poorly at any of my roles (husband, father, director) but I certainly wasn’t living up to my full potential. I was doing a lot and accomplishing too little.
Six weeks later, on a post-Christmas family vacation, I read this article that gave me a place to start, and everything changed. I took charge of my weekly schedule and:
- paired taking my daughter to school with a run through the nearby nature preserve
- downloaded the OverDrive app and a bunch of audiobooks to listen to while driving or running
- got up early 3x per week, grabbed a protein shake, and got to the office within 45 minutes of waking
- moved most of my meetings to the afternoon and blocked out morning time three days a week for deep work
- started using a bullet journal for everything
- and a bunch of smaller tweaks that had huge impact on the quality of my life and work
It’s been two years now and I can’t imagine what my life and work would look like had I not been prodded by my loving and gracious wife to take an interest in my own intention and focus. Since it’s nearly all I talk about anymore, she might be regretting it now, but this genie is out of the bottle and is making wishes come true left and right.
As a result of my intentional approach, I’ve been able to break out of the box I felt trapped in. If you’re curious, I’d love for you to continue reading what I believe to get a more full picture of the mindset shift that has helped me feel in charge, productive, and successful in ways that aren’t attached to money or title.
I hope I can be helpful as you try to navigate similar questions and challenges. If you want to chat or need some help, please say hello. I love meeting other leaders who are ready to take control of their habits and routines and live more rich, productive, connected, and whole lives as a result.