Two weeks ago we asked, “Will 2017 be smooth sailing for your family or will the seas be rough and choppy?” We posed this open-ended question to highlight the importance of distinguishing between what we intend to do, what we believe we are doing and, what we are actually doing. What is the big deal? Why demand nit-picking details? Memory alone cannot provide accurate information to distinguish between intention, assumption and reality. Wishing things are the way we want them to be-regardless of how earnestly we hope– does not make them true. To know what is actually occurring requires factual information.

Before you examine your actual data, pause and predict how well your intention matched your actual expenditure of time. Write down your estimate. Remind yourself of the purpose of this exercise: to help your family. There is no grade to be achieved, no passing or failing. This exercise will yield information that can assist in making more conscious choices. Better information allows us to make better decisions! Better information often reveals facts to which we’ve become blind. It can also highlight needs we’ve overlooked or the need need to identify and connect to resources.

As we well know, time is finite and most of us can never seem to find enough of it. The total amount we have to spend in a two-week period? Precisely 336 hours. Subtract sleep (7 hours/day = 98 hours total) and work (80 hours + 10 hours commuting.) Only 50 hours remain. Fifty precious hours to allot for all other responsibilities and priorities. That’s approximately 3 ½ hours per day. Is it any wonder why time feels so scarce? Or so valuable?

Now take the accumulated data and graph it in the appropriate wheel. Do this by coloring from the hub out towards the edges. Use the graphic on the left as your sample. What do you notice? How balanced is the wheel? If it were an actual wheel, would it roll smoothly? Which section dominated? Which was neglected? How does your completed wheel align with your priorities?

Mentally list your three Core Family Values. (These are the one on which you can never compromise.) If a stranger looked at your time wheel, what might they infer were your highest priorities? If not, what does that tell you. (Remember, information is power.)

As you study your completed wheel, what gaps between Intention and Execution does it reveal? What was your biggest time magnet? How much of your devotion of time to this category happened by intention, by accident or, by crisis? What garnered the least amount of time? Again, consider how much of your allotment of time to this category happened by intention, by accident or, by crisis? Which values are you living fully? To which ones are you giving lip service? Which ones truly guide and inspire you?

The next step in this exercise is probably the most important part. What will you do with the insight the exercise provided? First, reexamine your Core Values. How, why and when did you choose them? What has changed in your life since then? How did these Core Values serve you in the past? Now? How did they impede you. How have your beliefs changed since you originally formulated your Core Values? What “systems” do you use to remind yourself of these Values in your decision-making processes?

Make time to redefine/update your Core Values. Write them out, display them and share them as a family. This is a vital compass. Rely on it and use it consciously. We also invite parents to read GIFT’s Philosophy of Adoption and then share a serious discussion with your partner. This is a part of your family life that is too important to handle on autopilot. Hash out your family’s personal adoption philosophy and write it down. The process of writing it down will open reflection and discussion. It will reveal points of agreement, dissension and might expose assumptions that are inaccurate. It’s important to know all of these points. It could help avert problems and will certainly help in handling problems. Plus, it is best to explore them before a crisis occurs.

Armed with your updated data, re-examined values and clarified family adoption philosophy prepares you to be intentional and more successful as a family. It identifies opportunities to change and helps spotlight leverage points for adjustment. Set a reminder for three months ahead. Then reflect on how this exercise affect your family. Re-calibrate if necessary. Time brings changes and challenges. Keep tweaking these concepts and priorities on a quarterly basis. How would this approach benefit your family the most?

Next week we’ll look at the data you accumulated regarding money.

By the way, if you haven’t yet taken on this Time/Priority exercise, it is not too late. If you don’t want to commit to two weeks of tracking, try it for one. Imagine what benefits you and your family could reap…