Life Planning & Living Forward

March 20, 2016

I am not unhappy.  I am struck with gratitude multiple times a day:  when I look at my healthy children, my family, the beautiful surroundings of where I live.

However, I am not feeling all that settled lately.  I think a lot of it comes down to what I wrote in yesterday’s post.  I feel like I am always flitting, running, cutting corners.  And I hate that.  Perhaps it’s just an inevitable part of being a parent.  Or having a busy job with a lot of (real, high-stakes) responsibility.  Or both.

I am reading Living Forward right now, which seems like a rather random pick in the personal development realm.  But it’s interesting.  I have been listening to one of the authors’ podcast (Michael Hyatt) for quite some time and find him intriguing and thought provoking even though I have my doubts about whether we would get along in real life (just . . . different ideologies, and probably politics).  Anyway, as part of my “Life Plan” (his TM, apparently) creation, I am making lists that look like this for the top 9 priorities in my life.  Here’s an example for item #2 (most I do not plan on sharing publicly, but this one seems pretty straightforward).

Action Plan for Item #2 – A&C

Action Plan 2:  A&C

Purpose statement: My purpose is to be a present and engaged parent for Annabel and Cameron, to help them grow into happy and healthy older children and adults, and to enjoy the precious time we have together as a family.
Envisioned future:  Annabel and Cameron are school age, and they are thriving.  Both kids feel comfortable confiding and me and coming to me with real questions and dilemmas.  They enjoy spending time with Josh and me, alone or together.  They also have active social lives (friends), try hard in school, and each play a sport and do another activity.  We make the most of the days by seeking out fun experiences and opportunities to learn together.  We eat family dinner several nights of the week.  We plan a big family trip each year and look forward to it for months.  However, we also get a lot of joy out of the daily routine and things as mundane as a rainy Saturday at home reading or a movie night.
Inspiring quote:  “The days are long but the years are short.” — Gretchen Rubin
Current reality:
– Discipline can be a struggle, especially with Annabel.
– We do have fun times together after work, but it is tough when I am tired and the only one doing it for days in a row
– They have a great school and we have kind, hard-working and reliable childcare
– We are not quite at the age that trips/outings are all that easy
– We do have nice weekends together when we are off — a vast improvement over our previous schedule
Specific commitments:
– We will seek out experiences that will work at our children’s current ages
– I will treat time with A&C as precious as it truly is: no phone, no disengagement
– I will get enough rest so that I can be the patient and present parent that they deserve
– I will cultivate an open dialogue with each child so that they always feel they can come to me without judgement, and that I will listen
– I will work to create fun experiences and memories for our family to share, but I will also give attention to the daily routines that shape our lives
– I will read some more books on parenting, discipline, and communication to get a broader perspective and more ideas in this realm

So no, it’s nothing earth-shattering.  But having to lay out exactly where things are in every realm, and detailing how I would like things to change (with specific ideas) has felt helpful.  And maybe seeing it all out there will help to demonstrate how some things really do conflict (CAN’T actually do it all!), leading me to make conscious choices rather than the aforementioned flitting/running/cutting corners.
Okay, going to snuggle with A on the couch so that I can be true to my action plan above.  It has been a really nice weekend despite the angst-ridden posts!


  • Reply Lily March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    Intriguing…. I’m wondering if you think this book would be good for me – someone who is super happy with my life right NOW, but feeling a little adrift about what comes next….I’m in grad school and don’t know exactly where I want to work when I graduate – it’s not a lack of interest but rather too many ideas about possible paths! (And then being conscious of the reality that I can’t control job availability, recruitment etc) I’m not sure if I want to have kids or not (and my husband is equally unsure) Again, it’s mostly because I can imagine being happy either way. I’m trying to focus on enjoying NOW instead of stressing that I don’t have a plan – but I’m just someone who likes to have – and usually does have – a path ahead. And apparently it’s stressing me out to the point that I’m asking for advice from strangers on the internet 😉 I guess the condensed version of my question is: is this a book for people who know what they want and need a plan of how to get it – or is it also a book for people who are unsure of what they want? Thanks!

  • Reply beth March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I think it is great to have an action plan and areas you want to focus on and improve on. But you are already a great mother. I think it is important to remember that even as we strive to be better (which is a good thing).

    I think there is a certain amount of rushing, harriedness, cutting corners that comes with having a demanding fulltime job and raising children. It’s a lot to do! I think that it is good to work on greater mindfulness and greater presence but also good to recognize that neither will ever be achieved perfectly all of the time.

    Apparently I have too much to say because I have to split my comment!

  • Reply beth March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    Part 2:
    Also, I think that some distracted time when we are with out kids is not always a bad thing. It can teach them the importance of waiting and knowing that they cannot have us every second that they demand our immediate attention. That’s hard for me as a parent. The realization that I shouldn’t always jump every time my kids want my attention. It goes against so many "cherish every moment because you’ll never get it back" things that I read. But it’s okay to tell them, sometimes, "Mommy is busy right now and you are going to have to wait." Sometimes Mommy needs to cook a meal, do some housework or make a phone call. And that is okay too.

    There are definitely many things that get easier as the kids get older and approach school age. Some things get trickier (ie fitting in homework!). But the greater level of independence that each child gets with age was huge for me. Everyone being over the age of 3 was a big turning point in our house.

  • Reply Ana March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I’ve never read this book, but I did something similar a few years ago and this post has reminded me to revisit it. Not so involved, but I jotted down about 4-5 areas of priority and what I really cared about in those realms, long-term. It helped me during a time I was feeling REALLY overwhelmed, and given that I’m feeling that way again now, it probably is a good time to re-do the exercise (is there something in the planetary alignment or what? I also feel unsettled these days, and hurried, and like I simply cannot get on top of anything)

  • Reply Annie March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I love your "envisioned future" description for your family. My children are even younger than yours, but I have thought a lot about what I want our family’s future to look like and how I want us to have time together as a family and not be completely controlled by our kids’ activity schedules. I think it’s great to write out your vision ahead of time so you can make decisions that align with your vision.

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  • Reply Happy New Year March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

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