Things that Matter

Focus on the Things That Matter


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How many of us realise what is most important is already right in front of us? So while we are distracted chasing a career or that promotion we were promised, we are sacrificing time with our families – time that we will never get back. We simply neglect to focus on the things that matter most!

While this post is a little more personal, it points to the very reason why early retirement has meant so much to us. Every day my wife and I can spend as much time as we want with our family – whether it’s grabbing a cheeky lunch with each other, or enjoying the simple things with our children.

Yes, there were years I spent way too much time at work, including many nights away travelling. And yes, that hard work allowed us to earn good money and build our wealth. But it was always to achieve the goal of stepping away from the 9 to 5 grind early and spending as much time as possible with my family.

When times became a little tough on this journey, and self doubt crept in as to whether I could actually achieve this lifestyle, one little piece of writing gave me inspiration – “The Last Time”

The Last Time

The Last Time

From the moment you hold your baby in your arms,
You will never be the same.
You might long for the person you were before,
When you had freedom and time,
And nothing in particular to worry about.
You will know tiredness like you never knew before,
And the days will run into days that are exactly the same,
Full of feedings and burping,
Nappy changes and crying,
Whining and fighting,
Naps or a lack of naps’
It might seem like a never-ending cycle.

But don’t forget…
There is a last for everything.
There will come a time when you will feed
your baby for the very last time.
They will fall asleep on you after a long day
And it will be the last time you every hold your sleeping child.
One day you will carry them on your hip then set them down,
And never pick them up that way again.
You will scrub their hair in the bath one night
And from that day on they will want to bathe alone.
They will hold your hand to cross the road,
Then never reach for it again.
They will creep into your room at midnight for cuddles,
And it will be the last night you ever wake to this.
One afternoon you will sing “the wheels on the bus”
and do all the actions,
Then never sing them that song again.
They will kiss you goodbye at the school gate,
The next day they will ask to walk to the gate alone.
You will read a final bedtime story and wipe your last dirty face.
They will run to you with arms raised for the very last time.

The thing is, you won’t even know it’s the last time
Until there are no more times.
And even the, it will take you a while to realise.

So while you are living in these times,
remember there are only so many of them
and when they are gone, you will yearn for just one more day of them.
For one last time.

Author Unknown

I came across this piece some time back and to say that it has shaped my thinking for the better is an understatement. It reminds us that our time with our children when they are young and dependant on us is so fleeting. For everything we do with them, there will be a ‘last time’.

While this is somewhat of a depressing thought, what it should do is wake us up to what is right in front of us, right now! And not just our children, but everything in our families and personal relationships.

Most of us are taught from an early age to strive for a ‘successful’ career – whatever that means.  Unfortunately, the term “success” is never properly defined.  And so we mostly live by someone else’s definition of success, and that usually means what is successful for them, not us. 

Our jobs often result in success for someone else, and very often not for us.

Our time with our children is so fleeting…..there will be a last time for everything we do with them.

The result is we tend to work longer and harder, chasing that promotion or salary increase, believing that will make us “successful”.  We steal time from those around us, our families, and willingly give it to our job.  We become hooked on the idea that just a little more time given to our job will give us the success we crave.

I remember some time back, when I was seeking to understand more about what success means, I sought out and met with those who I considered ‘successful‘ – in most cases business people who had ‘made it’. 

I met with one gentleman who was the chairman for a mining company. It turned out to be one of the most profound meetings I had.  There I was seeking the secret of success, waiting for the gems of ideas to flow to me. Instead he looked at me and said, “don’t give up your time with your children, as you can never get it back!

How many people do you know, including yourself, that have fallen in this trap? 

Chasing Money

You see he was a “success” in many people’s eye, including mine.  And yet with all he had achieved and gained in his career, his biggest regret was it came at the expense of time with his children.  Once he had “made it”, and his career was moving into its final years he realised his children had grown up. They were now too busy themselves to spend much time together.  And so the cycle continues.

As my career progressed and I became a senior manager I tried to strike a better work/life balance.  For the most part I think I did a reasonable job. But there was always times when I felt I was giving way too much to the company and not enough to my family. 

A mentor of mine pointed out that the ‘company’ simply doesn’t care how much time we give to our jobs – as long as the work is done.  But what do you do when the work is never ending?

As a manager of team of professionals, I tried to be a leader that instilled a work life balance.  More than once I would talk to my team members and tell them to pack up and go home, instead of remaining at work until well after their kids were in bed

I even shared this poem, “The Last Time”, with them, and yet you wouldn’t believe how hard it was to get them to go home.  Somehow they had fallen hard for the idea of work hard on your career, give everything to your company, sacrifice your time with your family and you’ll receive your ‘reward’ – sometime in the future…..

Now I am not saying that all jobs are bad. And there are some amazing companies out there that really do believe in the welfare of their employees.  Unfortunately, I feel they are very few and far between.

So What is the Answer? 

I believe it is having a deep understanding of what matters most to you.  What is you ‘ideal day’ and why aren’t you living it now?  How can you spend more time with your family, while you achieve the level of income you require?

I once attended a Personal Development seminar where the trainer was teaching us to manifest more income (I’m simplifying).  He said imagine if we could double our income, to which a lady in the audience said, “but I don’t need that much money” (interesting)!  His response was a pure nugget – “well how about doubling your hourly rate and working half the time!

Perhaps we have it wrong.  Perhaps it’s not the salary increase we need, but be paid the same for doing our work in less time, giving us more time with our family?

I really do believe as parents we feel the need to give our children everything.  This pressure often falls to one spouse as the main income provider.  And if that isn’t ‘enough’ then we send both parents out to work, stealing even more family time.

If we only woke up and realised that sometimes being the best Dad or Mum, is to simply turn up in our children’s lives! 

Our kids will never remember the toys they had growing up, but they will remember the times you stood on the sidelines of their games cheering them on.  The times when we were at their school assembly to see them receive the merit awards, or simply the time we were there for them to tell us how their day went.

Steve and Yu-An

How Do You Focus on the Things That Matter?

Again, it’s being clear on what matters most to youWrite down what your ideal day looks like! What would it take to start living it now?

Should you quit your job today – probably not.  But having a goal and a clear plan to attain the life you’re after is key. 

Having this clarity will help you create the life you want and free your time up.  How?  You will make better decisions around your time.  You will choose to attend your child’s special event, rather than sit in another (pointless) meeting. 

And when you do, the world will keep turning and you will still meet your deadlines in the office.

If this inspires you to make make bigger changes, then you will begin to have clarity on what type of work better suits your needs.  It may be to seek out a job with a company that has a better balance, or to start your own business and really take control of things.

For me, early retirement and no longer chasing the next promotion for my ego, has been the answer, giving me the flexibility to be more present in my family life.  The sacrifices and smart money choices we made in the past has now opened up a lifestyle of freedom and choice.

I get to drop the kids to school, and the simple task of driving the kids home from school and have them tell you about their day is simply the best.

What are you going to do to simply be there for your family?


Steve Sig

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Hi, I’m Steve Floyd….creator of my own ideal lifestyle and family guy.

I started Steve’s Blog to share the things I have learnt (and continue to learn), building my own ideal lifestyle.   After a successful career in IT, Sales & Marketing, and self-taught investing and money management, I managed to retire at the ripe young age of 50. 

Now I enjoy helping others break free from the typical 9 to 5 grind, and find their own ideal Lifestyle! And when I’m not blogging (or with the family), I’m at the gym, looking for the best cup of coffee, watching Aussie rules footy or on the Playstation!


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