By now you’re stuffed from Christmas and catching your breath before celebrating again to ring in the New Year. Your pants might be tight, but your calendar probably has some wiggle room.
Hunter and Nathan playing together in our family Christmas Eve program at the farm with four generations of family.
This time of year, I indulge on my mom and grandma’s farm cooking, but once the calendar flips, I pledge to leave extra room on my plate and move more to burn off calories. My January is full but not as overscheduled with programs and parties as December was. It’s a good time for me to consciously leave extra room and create some space—and not only on my plate.
Elizabeth and niece Nola at Elizabeth’s eighth “beach” birthday party
If there’s one thing 2015 taught me it’s to leave room in my life for unexpected opportunities, my greatest passions and my family and friends in moments of joy and mourning.
I started this column in April 2015. If I had said “yes” to everything else earlier in the year I wouldn’t have had time to write a weekly column. There just wouldn’t have been enough room in my days for such a commitment. But 2015 gave me a chance to evaluate, pause and sharpen my focus and energy on my greatest passions—small business, writing, speaking and, most importantly, my family and friends. I had time to think about where I want and need to be and how to spend my time.
My kids, husband and extended family had more of my time in 2015. None of them asked for more of my time. I purposely left room in my life to be available for them. I learned to say no to opportunities that didn’t complement my true passions and activities that would have competed with my family time.
My grandpa, Oscar Huso and daughter Anika at Christmas. Grandpa spent his 88th Christmas on the farm. He spent two years away at Christmas during World War II, one in California and one in the Swiss Alps. He turns 91 in January.
What I thought would result from slowing down and evaluating my time was more quiet days filled with volunteering, writing, staying ahead of cleaning and laundry and unscheduled time with my kids, family and friends. While that was the case to an extent, I look back and realize my greatest blessings came in the car to and from school, in the kitchen enjoying afterschool snacks or baking, catching up with friends over coffee or lunch and driving kids and family members to doctor’s appointments.
This winter, I’m leaving room for our son’s last season of high school basketball. With an end in sight, every game, win or lose, means a little more this season. I pack sandwiches, fruit, chips, bars or cookies for bus trips with cases of sports drinks for the team, knowing next winter I will have that time back to fill with another activity. This winter, no matter how hard the wind is blowing or how much snow blankets the ground, you’ll find me in a warm gymnasium watching the South Border Mustangs boys’ basketball team.
If your life is in a rut, and I’m not necessarily referring to your job but the time you spend volunteering and with your family and friends, allow yourself a quiet moment this week to reflect on how you can take back your time so you can be more accessible. Opportunities don’t always fall into your lap; you might have to seek them out. Give the gift of time to your family and friends. You won’t get out of a rut if you don’t purposefully choose to evaluate how you can better use your time and resources.
Don’t forget to allow a slice of time just for you. It’s not selfish. Time to pause makes you better for your business, community, family, kids, spouse and even your marriage.
Lastly, set realistic expectations for the New Year and how to divide your time. Don’t compare yourself and how you spend your time to others.
I blog and participate in three or four social media platforms. I know social media sets unrealistic expectations for our professional and personal lives. We compare ourselves to people we rarely interact with offline. While I love the many benefits of social media, it doesn’t define my life. My life is offline, filled with dozens of joyous and difficult moments, fabulous family and friends and life’s many adventures.
Create some space in your time this week to allow yourself to reflect on how you can be a better you in 2016.
How will you spend your time in 2016?
(This was originally published as my weekly column in Agweek.)