Recently we had friends visit from the other side of the planet. It was our second catch up in fourteen years, only our third since the early nineties. We didn’t get much notice of when they were coming, and of course timing was terrible, but we chose to drop everything (or as much as we possibly could) to spend time with them.
This meant both of us taking time off work, him a week at the busiest time of the year and me two weeks only a month into a new job. We also had to let a few other things go - like being super organised. Turning a household of two into one of five for a few weeks could have been a shock to the system but this was an opportunity not to be missed and we were determined to enjoy every minute of it.
Often we get so caught up in doing all the ‘should’ stuff that we end up missing out on good stuff - which is what life is supposed to be about. But how do we prioritise when there’s so much going on? One simple approach came recently when I heard someone ask ‘how will you feel about it in five years?’ That really resonated. We dropped everything to spend three fun filled weeks hanging out with some wonderful people that we will all still remember five years from now. If we hadn’t though, would we be happy in five years having been too timid to ask for the time off or too inflexible to share our home?
Since our friends departed and we returned to work, I’ve watched other people having to drop everything for less appealing but no less urgent reasons. One for a funeral and several through illness - both the type of events we need to make time for. But do we?
Think about it, how many times have you soldiered on or missed something important because you put work first, and what’s your memory of it now? That job when you dragged yourself in and no-one else bothered or appreciated it. I can recall being incredibly ill at work in order to deliver a project on time, and it’s difficult not to still hold resentment - not for the people who set the deadline and weren’t even there on the go live date, but for me being silly enough to put work before my health. None of it matters now, it could have easily waited a week.
Anyhoo, it was in this mindset yesterday when it hit 26 degrees at three in the afternoon on a mid-winter’s day when I decided to seize another drop everything moment. Sure, we know it’s not supposed to be that hot at this time of year but what do you do when it is?
I was at home with my to do list, there were still plenty of items on it, but Mother Earth turned on a bonza and I wasn’t missing it. Sitting at the computer ready to do a few hours work, I quickly came to my senses. Opening my browser I checked the weather, the water temperature, the tide, and the swell. Conditions were perfect, you’d think they had been made to order. So I jumped in my togs, grabbed a towel, and not long after was frolicking about in the ocean.
Cut back to now, or five years from now, or when I’m 80 and it’s these snatches of metaphoric sunshine that I want to remember. That winter’s day where I snuck in a swim will shine much brighter than the fact that I put off cleaning my shower or writing a blog post.
If you’re sticking it out, soldiering on, or waiting for your next holiday, why not give yourself a break. Find an opportunity to put off a ‘should’ and treat yourself to creating a memory worth keeping. Now is the moment of power - and happiness, all the other stuff can wait.