27 May Making Time for What Really Matters
For the past few days, I have had this sentence in my head: “Making time for what really matters.” There are so many aspects to it. There is the obvious question: how do I make time? But the deeper and more important one is: ‘What really matters?”
“Be in the here and now” is the answer for some people. “Work hard so you can retire early” is the other approach. And then there is what really drives me: “Creating a more sustainable world”.
Deciding on What Matters
About 4 years ago, my wife and I had a date night. It was one of the first times alone without the children. We had dinner, walked along the beach, then went to an Oka concert. Our sharing meandered back to one of the big decision in our lives: migration from Germany to Australia. It had been so easy to just leave everything behind and dive into that adventure. We also realised how much harder it felt now: two children, a business, a house in Noosa, Australia (one of the most beautiful places I know).
And so we decided that night that it would be good to test whether we could still be flexible. Could we still get up and explore other places in this world? We also wanted our children to really experience this trip and so decided 2016 (that was 3 years in the future from that night) would be the right year to leave.
Staying Flexible With Implementation
In the next couple of years we talked about it sometimes, but never spent any time planning or organising it. I started working on Promis full time at the end of 2015 and was totally consumed by how it could make the world more sustainable. And I did not want to let that go for this vague plan we had made 3 years earlier.
But something else kept going around my head. When our older daughter had turned 6, I realised with a big shock that a third of her time with us was over. Now she was 10, so she’d go onto her own path in less time than she had spent with us.
Realising that clinched it. So on 11 September 2016, we sat down as a family and started brainstorming ideas about what we wanted to experience and, decided to leave at the end of the school year in December.
My plan was to go offline for the first two months and just focus on the trip,, then settle in Sydney and work 3 weeks, then have 10 days with my family in nature. After that, all was open.
Making Time to Make it Happen
We made it happen. My amazing team kept the business running while I was camping with my family in the National Parks along the Australian East Coast, snowboarded in Japan and went to a Yoga Festival in Bali (actually, that was my first 10 days with my family after focusing on Promis in Sydney).
Balancing Our Choices
What I learnt from all of that? It is possible to balance family and work, even while running a startup.
We have an almost unlimited amount of choices and it is possible to make time for what really matters. All that is needed is to decide what really matters. When it is multiple things that matter at the same time (like spending quality time with family and building a business), then there are ways to make it happen. The key for me is doing everything with 100% focus while I do it. And then moving to the next thing and giving that all my attention.
What Does This Mean for You?
What really matters to you? And how are you making time for that? Are you doing it in a focused way or juggling different things at the same time? Are you present in whatever you do?
And what does all of this have to do with Promis? Well, Cameron and I talked about what really matters to us a few days ago. We remembered that while we are building a bill automation platform, the underlying reason is that we want to free up time for our users so they can focus on what really matters to them.