Are You Makin’ Time for the Important Stuff?

Few things are as important in my life as my family and friends. So when the solar eclipse rolled around, I set aside a pressing project to watch it together through an old cardboard box.

Two women view eclipse through box.

When I was at my last job, I might have said doing things with family were more important, but my actions would have said otherwise.

I paid lip service to the principle of “work-life balance.” I would squeeze in time with family or friends, sure. But I would frequently cheat that time.

Checking emails, scanning scripts, or scrubbing the kitchen counter during a call so I could get something done while talking on the phone, for instance. Instead of truly listening to the person on the other end of the line. I was anything but present.

Plus, there were the things I didn’t do because I was too busy. One that really rankles is that I didn’t go see my mother more often. In the last four or five years of her life, I saw her only a few times. I should have gone every year, and more than once a year. But I was too busy.

Damn. That was some screwed-up thinking.

For the 9 years of my corporate job, work was ALWAYS the most important thing. But I was wrong. Click To Tweet

And guess what? That meant I always worked late—while also missing out on living fully. Always.

Have you ever been on a bullet train? One summer I rode from Devon in the UK to London. Beautiful countryside. Didn’t see any of it. Racing past it at 200 mph (320 km /h), it was literally a blur.

Until a few years ago, I didn’t realize that life is a speeding bullet train, racing so fast that everything is a fuzzy haze until you get to the end and stagger off. Similarly, I didn’t realize—as ludicrous as it seems—what was truly important in my life.

A life lived focused on work is a life that has missed the many precious stops between the beginning & the end. Click To Tweet

One of the books that has had an impact on changing how I view my life—and what’s important in it—is The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papason.

The authors mention another memorable book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing by Bonnie Ware. I highly recommend both of them.

One of the top five regrets is this:

“I wish I hadn’t worked so hard—spent too much time making a living and not being with the ones I love or doing the things I love.”

I know that when you’re working, it’s challenging to fit in the important things outside the job, especially if you’re on a corporate success track. But recognizing what is meaningful and valuable to you, and also recognizing that those things need to be both cherished and nurtured, can help you carve out even a bit more time for them.

Maybe you think you deserve time to unwind, so you’re put social media, TV, puzzle books, online games, etc., etc., ahead of the relationships that really matter.

Reclaim that time and share it with your family and friends. The pay-out will be a reclaimed life, reclaimed relationships, and a life without regrets.


Take another five minutes to SCHEDULE focused attention to those things and people in the next month. No multi-tasking.

Give it and them your full attention. Whatever you do, don’t do something else (including thinking about the things you “should” be doing) while talking, visiting, playing, etc.

“The first act of love is to open our eyes and truly see those around us. It means setting aside our own agenda for a moment, and that’s not easy. But it’s the only way to find out what—and whom —we’re missing.” ~Michael Raypholtz

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Marcy McDonald is the creator of the Happiness Builder Program, more than 70 exercises to help you change your perspective so you can change your life.

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