You are officially deep into the second week of 2018. Have you stuck with those “resolutions” you optimistically made just a few short days ago?
If you already broke a few of those “promises” to yourself, you are not alone.
Barely a week into the new year, I dropped the ball on one big goal. Thanks to a persistent 5-year-old, I learned a new respect for something that is guaranteed to improve your life.
A few months ago, my youngest daughter started swim lessons. Because she already knows how to swim, these are actually technical sessions in which she is working on different strokes and breathing techniques. Because these lessons happen in the middle of the day, I have not been able to get to the practices. One resolution I made for 2018 was to make time for the activities of every one of my girls.
By making it to the first session this week, I was able to keep that promise. The problem was I also broke another resolution in the process.
Another goal I set for myself (and it has actually been one I keep writing down and breaking for last three years!) was to be more “present.” The best way I can describe “being present” is to actually be there fully engaged in the moment instead of either being physically or mentally distracted by something or someone else. When it comes to my work, writing, presenting, workouts and travel, I feel I have the “present thing” down solid. But as those areas have taken up more and more of my time, I wasn’t really crushing being attentive in the family department. And on Tuesday, all it took was getting ratted out by my 5-year-old to show me exactly why.
Yes, I went to the swim lesson and yes I was watching, but my ultimate obstacle to being present was there: MY CELL PHONE! Even though I thought I did a good job of giving my youngest the occasional thumbs up after a half lap of freestyle (and got the good photo above!), I was continually checking things like my email, social media and texts throughout the practice. I thought I was being a good dad by being there. I realized when I got home I wasn’t because being there is not the same as being present.
After we got home, my wife asked my daughter and me about practice. I was proud to say it went great. Her answer? “Dad was on his phone the whole time.”
I didn’t have a leg to stand on. At first I tried to defend myself with facts. I watched. I waved. I said, “good job.” Hey, I have a business to run. I can multitask. But after exhausting those, the real facts emerged: My daughter wanted my undivided attention and the practice was only 30 minutes! I have to admit it hit me hard and stuck with me. I could be bitter, or I could get better. Yesterday at her second practice, I went for better.
With the new year starting, I didn’t have time to go again this week. So I made time. With so many people in my network contacting me per day, I also don’t like being without my phone. So I left in in my car.
At first, it was tough, but it was the right thing to do. If you have experienced the same “cell phone withdrawal” I did, maybe that should tell you something.
With our first couple of children, my wife and I have limited their technology time. Funny how I didn’t do the same for myself. Is the phone the only obstacle to not being present? No. But limiting when you use it may be the best place to start. Since I never had a “cell phone etiquette” course, I am constantly working on better ways to use it as a tool that helps (not hurts) my life. The following are my 5 Ways to use your phone in improve your ability to be more present in a world that often isn’t:
5 Ways From Stopping Your Phone From Stopping You
1. Make sure you are turning your phone off at a certain point at night.
If it never “shuts off” neither do you. And don’t keep the phone next to your bed. I savor when I turn it off at night a few hours before bedtime. If you don’t, it probably isn’t helping your sleep or focus. A great way to ensure this is to charge your phone at night in a place nowhere near your bedroom.
2. Choose when you turn your cell phone on in the am.
If it is the first thing you do, then you have made sure some things like reading, writing, meditating, or other tasks you could get done in peace first, probably won’t happen. I wait until the kids are off to school and I have done my first major tasks of the day. Do this and you will learn the world (and email) will wait for you.
3. Create your personal rules for use.
You were given a phone without clear expectations or an education how to use it. When I looked at all the other parents yesterday, they were face down in their phones. If that is the case, it probably didn’t get any better at home. Spend some time today and make your own policy with the goal of making your life better.
4. Put the phone away during meals with the family and during conversations with others.
As our kids have more activities, eating together as a whole group is getting less and less frequent. You can’t have that time back. Set the rules so the phones go away for family time. In terms of conversations, hide the phone and look at the person, not your screen. It is a great sign of respect.
5. Don’t text or surf the internet and drive.
Simply put, the LMAO and cat video will wait until you get somewhere safe where you are not risking your own or someone else’s life.
A great way to be present? Always look for the W.I.N. (What’s Important Now). If you ask yourself in the moment what is most important and it doesn’t involve your phone, put it down or put it away.
I have learned that one of the most important things to either give or get from someone is their attention. Make a commitment to this in 2018, create your “phone rules” and your life can only be richer.
P.S. If you like the idea of a cell phone policy, or have one in place that really works for you, write me about it.
Yours In Strength,