I tend to reflect a lot in my downtime, and I will admit that there are times that it isn’t all that positive. I’m anxious by nature, so these thoughts do little to help settle my mind.
“Am I being a good enough father?”
“Am I eating the right foods?”
“Am I doing the right things at work?”
It’s thoughts like these that race through my head and, are often the reason I don’t sleep great. I can’t shut them off.
Sometimes I’ll lay in bed in the morning and look through Instagram while I wait for the rest of my body to wake up. I came across a post about a man who had unfortunately passed away. The post went on to discuss how he was a great father, husband, brother…the typical things you say at a time like this. What struck me the most, however, was he had written something to his wife about 6 months prior that listing around ten things in his life that he wanted to focus on being better at. Basically, it was a list of things that were important to him.
This got me thinking. What is important to me? If I had to make a list of ten things today, what would they be? Surprisingly, the ten things came to mind fairly quickly.
- Be a better husband
Look, I’m sure every man out there would start their list with something similar (at least any man who had a wife who would read it), but how many would truly mean it? My wife is amazing, and I am sure there are times when I am less than appreciative. Not only is she a great wife, but a great mother. A woman like that should be shown everyday what she means to you. I have been trying over the past year to focus on that by showing appreciation or helping more than I ever have before. I fail from time to time, but I actively try and think about it, and will continue to do so even more moving forward.
- Be a better father
Anyone who has ever said parenting was easy, was a complete and utter liar. Children are challenging, aggravating, and frustrating all at once. They will test every ounce of your patience. But, they are also the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, and they are growing older and older by the day. There will come a day when they do not want to sit on my lap or have me chase them around the house, so I need to enjoy that now. No matter how tired I am, or stressed because of my day, I need to take the time to show them the love and affection they not only need but deserve.
- Eat better
Ok, you are probably thinking by now that this is looking like an average dad’s book of New Year’s resolutions, but hear me out on this. I am not talking about just eating better by avoiding over indulgence and cutting calories. I am talking about eating real food. Food that isn’t processed. Food that we, as a human, should be eating. I have done this for 30 days at a time a few times over the years, but I need to make it a priority and make it a sustainable way of eating.
- Be less cynical
My wife constantly harps on me about this. Now, I will clarify, I’m not outwardly cynical to strangers or people on the street, but internally I am. Which is not a great way to live. By being cynical, I am never seeing the good in a person or a situation. I always look for the ulterior motive, or I fail to see that sometimes people do nice things, well, to just be nice. There is no benefit from being cynical, so I just need to stop thinking that way.
- Sleep more
I recently listened to a JRE podcast about sleep. He had a neuro scientist on that had done a pretty big study on the effects of sleep deprivation. One of the things that stuck with me from that podcast is the scientist said we are the only living species that purposely avoids sleep. We feel as a species that if there are 24 hours in a day, we need to be awake for 20 of them. That attitude is wrecking our bodies and over all health. They even pointed out that they are close to categorizing shift work as a carcinogen because of the increased chance of cancer due to lack of sleep. I usually average 6 hours a night, and I would like to get closer to 8.
- Call/visit my parents more
I was sitting in my living room the other day watching my kids play, and I thought how sad it will be one day when they move out and start their own lives. It was then that I realized my parents, especially my mom, must feel the same way. My goal for the next year is to try and call at least once a week, even if it is just for a few minutes, so that they know how much I love and care for them.
- Get outside more
Now this goal will probably sit on the backburner until it is above 30 degrees outside, but when the weather breaks, I’m there. I want my kids to enjoy the outside and not be raised in front of a screen. I also want to break the habit as well. I don’t care if it is playing in the park, going for a walk, or just sitting on the lawn, I want to spend more time outdoors.
- Be more available for the moment
Basically, I mean put my phone down. I can be terrible at this as are many people. The funny thing is, I am listening while I’m on my phone, I just do it out of habit at this point in my life. The fact that it is a habit, and that it is noticeable (my wife reminds me all the time) means that it is time to stop it.
- Enjoy every day
Cliché I know, but it’s the truth. At 35 years old, I realize I am far from old, but I’m not young either. Nobody knows how many days they get on this planet. Think about it, say I live to be 90 years old (god willing), that means I only have 55 more Christmas mornings…55 thanksgiving dinners with my family….55 superbowl parties. When I think about it that way, I realize that every day truly is a gift, and I should treat it as such.
- Tell/show the people that mean the most to me….well…just that
I don’t care if it is my wife or a close friend, I don’t want them to question how I feel about them. In my family, we may overuse the word I love you, but I don’t care. My wife and I say it nearly every time we hang the phone up, and I say it to my kids every day when I leave for work. God forbid, if something ever happened to me on my way to work or at work, I would want them to know how much they mean to me. I want to continue this, but only now I want to hug them more. I want to help my friends more. I want to be the person that everyone wants their friend or loved one to be.
So there’s my 10, and I would encourage you to do the same in your life. Writing this made me reflect on what is important to me, and how I could better myself as a person moving forward. Like I touched upon in one of my ten things, we have a limited time here. We might as well all try to make ourselves the best we can be. Not only for those around you, but for yourself.
So, what’s your ten?