Survey: How do you do it all?

Riddle me this…

I’m a husband, new dad, small business owner, a christian who earnestly desires to live a fully devoted life, and thanks to my new Wii and Wii Fit I got for Father’s day, apparently I have about 25lbs to lose to get back in the “normal” BMI range. Nice.

Bills. Small business time. Quiet time. Quality time. Kid time. Wife time. Romance time. Household chore time. Hobby time. Blog time. Workout time. Friend time. New idea time. Client prospect time. Client maintenance time. Staff time. Innovation time. New idea time. Sleep time. Sabbath time. Prayer time. Me time? Oh my! And what else am I forgetting?

We, my generation, are no stranger to the concept of mentors, but the reality is, they are few and far between.

So today, I stand for all those in my generation whose life applies to one or more of the above identities and responsibilities. Together, we ask the generation before us…

How do you do it all?

What success have you had in leveraging your time to become all that you want to be?

If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently?

What is your key to quality relationships?

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  • Jonathan Brink

    I think the most powerful thing I ever did was realize that none of those things ever validated me. Only God could.

    • Chownage

      I don't know if this is about validation for me, necessarily, but trying to make sure that I am living life well. Perhaps the question of validation comes from the perspective of intentions; why do I pursue each of the above? Thanks for your contribution.

  • Liz Jenkins

    My husband and I are in our mid-40's with a daughter. We balance our lives by communication and recognizing that we cannot bow to outside pressures – that we need to focus on what is truly important to us and who we are as a family. Each family has it's own core values and its own identity which can get lost if the members get too inner or outer focused. The communication is key – you need to really look at who you are and what your life and family means to each member. Having a vision of where you are going is a good thing as well. Of course, that's not to say we always have it together – every day has its challenges – but having the overall vision for our family helps us make decisions and evaluate our choices.
    My husband and I have been together almost 20 years, and have run several business together (although not currently). We have both changed a lot over this time and we could have grown apart. But we talk a lot, and respect each other, and encourage each other to grow individually which has helped us become better as a couple and better parents to our daughter.
    My recommendation is to take the time to prioritize what is truly important and work other things around it. Don't be afraid to say no – go with your gut – if it doesn't fit with your goals and values – gracefully extricate yourself from situations and commitments. Knowing who you are as a person, and knowing who you are as a family is what can make the difference between being proactive and reactive. That being said, 'values' in this case, does not necessarily mean religion or spirituality – it means the inner part of you that is your core identity and personality, your credo and beliefs you live by.
    If we had it to do again, we'd spend less money on 'stuff', save more, and travel more to experience our country and our world. Which is what we are trying to do now – now that we've realized we should have done it sooner!
    Really thoughtful post.

    • Chownage

      I love it! Thanks Liz for your contributions. And I appreciate your perspective on values.

  • Cece DuBois

    What success have you had in leveraging your time to become all that you want to be?
    I never really leveraged my time to become all that I wanted to be. I leveraged my time so that my husband and children could become all that THEY wanted to be. And – to that end – I have been outrageously successful.

    If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently?
    I would have added myself to the list – not only to give me the chance to be all that I was meant to be in the world, but also – to set an example for my children of what a thoughtful, purposeful and well-centered woman looks like.
    I would have paid more attention, earlier, to what's really important. And less to what is not.
    I would have paid deliberate attention, and made mental and journalized notes of moments with my children and others whom I love.

    What is your key to quality relationships?
    For me, true connection comes from honesty balanced with compassion, humor, and lack of expectation.
    If I do something for someone, I make certain there is no string attached. I'm doing it because I want to, period. They will never owe me anything for what I did for them.

    The other thing is, you can't force a connection. The energy is there, or it's not. When it is, follow the gut and pay attention to how you're treating the other person. On the other hand if, at any time, you start to feel 'used and abused,' it's time to reevaluate.

    Hope this helps.

    • Chownage

      Cece…thank you for speaking into this post. I love what you said above about leveraging your time so that your husband and children can become all that they could be. Great perspective.

  • Mike Ruel

    Primarily, it's important to remember priorities – "seek first the kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well" – Matt 6:33. You can see your way a whole lot clearer thru that lens.

    Practically for me it comes down to a few things – one of them is fierce time management. I can't stand wasting time. I hate it…like makes my stomach hurt. I always have to be doing something. To that end, (and my first comment) getting up EARLY and spending quality time running hard after God thru his Word and prayer is another key within that topic. Keep first things first and make sure there is a balance of priorities – keep the family a strong 2nd to God and everything else falls in.

    I also think it's important to have "thinking" time…I have the "luxury" of driving 1 1/2 hours each way to work, so on the way to work I listen to some great sermons from the word and on the way home, I just think!

    Back to time management — the 6 minutes I allotted for doing this post have just expired. :-)

    • Chownage

      sounds like I need to commit to my early to bed, early to rise regiment.

  • Maria Keckler

    My answer Part I (230 words is just too much for Intense Debate :)

    The answer for me is “I can do it all—just not at the same time.”
    Could I have children and still be a mover and shaker in the world? I thought so until I held my newborn in my arms and began to weep at the thought of leaving her with someone else, so I could go chase my dreams. I guess the remorse would have eventually subsided—it always does… Instead, I shelved the dreams for a while…

    Time flies and in the blink of an eye, our girl was heading to Kindergarten, so I went back to school too–one of those dreams I had shelved. There were others that remained on the shelf, like becoming a published book author because I wasn't willing to leave a pre-teen without her mom for several weeks to do book promotions. Instead, I wrote for the love of it and to serve others… But soon she'll be off to college, so there'll be time to grab more things off the shelf…

  • Maria Keckler

    Part II

    Clearly, it's just an example and the Cliff Notes version of 21 years of marriage and 17 of parenting, but I believe the answer is spelled out in Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 "To every thing there is a season…"
    Some things in life can be done any time, but some things can only be done “well” today.
    Thanks for opening an opportunity to reflect and share.

    • Chownage

      I wonder how much of my challenge is due to the idea of multitasking being drilled into my work ethic? Something that I am trying to unlearn.

      Thanks for your contribution Maria.

      • Cece DuBois

        See, I think that "multi-tasking work ethic" thing can spin out of control very easily. People on our society are looked down on as 'lazy' when they appear 'unaccomplished.' On the other hand, 'workaholism,' while considered by the medical profession as a serious problem, is (secretly or not) admired by society. And, truthfully, work is a safe place to hide form relationships, problems, feelings ourselves …

        • MariaKeckler

          Yes, I agree! I have recently been reevaluating the whole "multi-tasking" mindset. Single tasking–when I try commit to it–always yields quality instead of quantity. The older I get–and the wiser, hopefully–I want to aim for quality: in relationships, health, spiritual growth, etc.

          After all, if we covet to one day hear "Well done, good and faithful servant…" it will be not about how much we did but how well we did what we were given to do. I believe that!

          • Chownage

            Good and faithful seems to be the key in that scripture.

            Thanks for your feedback!

          • Cece DuBois

            I love that Maria … not the quantity, in the end, but the quality of our efforts.
            A great reminder of that perspective, and of our ultimate coveted destination – God's loving arms.

  • Brendan Cosgrove

    Thanks for putting this out there Kyle, I was just asking my wife the same question. RTing it now. :)

    • Chownage

      Thanks for the RT love.

  • Cece DuBois

    Just a comment on the blessing and the curse of relentless schedules:

    The greatest of inventions, the greatest experiments that resulted in magnificent discovery, happened during periods in the lives of those experimenters/discoverers when they were 'noodling around' … what we in this Digi-Microwave-iPod-fastfastfast generation call 'dawdling,' or wasting time without a 'plan.'

    Make space in your life for 'no plan.' Turn off all things electronic. Go outside. Not for a deliberate, five mile hike/run/bike. Just . Go . Out . Side. You are Now-HERE. When you're not here, you're 'no-where.'

    Take a deep breath. Let it out. Listen. Repeat.

    It' a gift. That's why it's called the present.

    God's miracles are now, constant, and all around us in an ever-magnificent display. Noodle, dawdle, waste big hunks of time in nature. Or in your studio. Or in the hammock. Make time to dream.

    And leave the cell phone turned off.

    • Chownage

      I think this is key. Google allows a day a week for their staff to work on projects that are unrelated to their job description. That's dreaming in the workplace.

      • Cece DuBois

        That's AWEsome! If more companies would do that, the entire world energy would shift. Seriously.

  • Ben

    And I think I'm busy now as a single person :) I can't even imagine what life will be like once I get married and have a family. I suppose it's really good that I'm having to learn how to prioritize now so I won't get overwhelmed later. That seems like the key to me, keeping yourself from being overwhelmed. Once I start getting behind in something, it's so much easier to stop altogether than to try and catch back up.

  • Randy Elrod


    I am now 51 years old and recently retired, uh, I mean, retooled for my second life. My first career of 30 years ran me headlong into every questions you pose in this post. Two seasons in particular where I was working 90 hour weeks for seven years and another as I finished my undergraduate work while working a full-time job and commuting 80 miles a day.

    I feel (as you allude) that a mentor is VITAL. Two men mentored me and made an extraordinary difference in my life. That is why you may have seen me at Merridees on Tuesdays for the past nine years mentoring younger men. I am the recipient of reciprocal relationships that pay dividends, no matter if you are the mentor or the mentee. I have been extremely fortunate to experience both sides of the coin.

    Some brief thoughts that come to mind as you try to keep all your "hats spinning".

    Rhythms of life are vital. If you work to maintain rhythm, somehow everything seems more doable. For me, it was reading a cycle of business, professional and fun books 30 minute before bed. Running 3 days a week, if only for thirty minutes a day, a date night with each of my children once a month, a date night with my wife bi-weekly, reading trade magazines such as Wired, EW, MacWorld for 10 minutes in the morning, etc.

    Solitude. Living a contemplative life is a foreign concept to Westerners, but it is a vital ingredient to the creative life. My best ideas have come from purposeful times alone. I do a tech and people fast, so I can deal with my interiorities.

    Reading. I mentioned it above. Great leaders are great readers. Period. Read the Super Texts list of Dr. Steven Sample of USC, and the texts mentioned by Hugh Hewitt in "In But Not Of".

    Journaling. Again, this helps maintain rhythm and gives perspective later on in life. One of the best words of advice to me early in life was to journal. And to not be discouraged when I failed to do it daily. Journal when you can, and then come back to it when you fail to do it for a while. There was one hectic period in my life when I did not journal for seven years. But I resolutely returned to writing and I'm so glad I did. I'm talking personal, honest journaling meant only for you, not blogging.

    Intimacy with God and others. I've found a dearth of this practice in my own life and others, especially Christian leaders. This intimacy is the key to a satisfying life. I've made my work, my hobbies, my ego, my food, alcohol, sex and many more things my lover. But, there is only one who can truly bring you fulfillment and meet your deepest needs. God wants to be your lover. He wants to seduce you to intimacy with him. Have you ever had a time with God as good as your most wildest sexual moment? if not, you are not alone. Search for this type intimacy with God with all your body and soul. I have found that a true love affair with God spreads to all others in my life.

    Just a few thoughts. I have many more. I hope you find a mentor in your life. You are one of the few young men that seem to REALLY want it.


    • Chownage

      Wow Randy. Those thoughts were rich. Feel free to offer more. I'm all ears! Thank you thank you thank you!

    • Brendan Cosgrove

      Randy, thank you so much for your insight. Truly encouraging to my soul.

  • ashbylane

    Kyle – the comments have been great, and I especially loved what Randy Elrod had to say! You and I, of course, are practically the same age, so I'm making this journey with you, and seeking for wisdom from those who've travelled ahead of us just as you are. I related to what Randy said about rhythm and reading. If I had to choose something that I've done in the last couple of years to help me carve out the time necessary to pursue all I am called to be a part of, I would say turning off the TV is one of the highest items on the list. It sounds silly, but it’s so typical today to think that the best way to relax at the end of a long day is to "veg" in front of the TV. I would counter that by saying that entertainment was meant to be intentional and engaging mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Just a simple switch from TV-oriented evenings to reading books, or having friends for dinner, or (gasp) going to bed early so I can get up earlier has enabled me to do SO much more than I thought possible.

    • Chownage

      Great words of wisdom my friend. TV is a weak point for me from time to time. It's good to point that out again.

  • ashbylane

    The other thing I've wrestled with – and finally given into – is an early-to-bed, early-to-rise schedule. You know me – I'm a night owl to the core. Even with 2 young kids it's still so hard for me to go to bed early, even harder for me to wake up at 5 AM. But, wow, what a difference it has made. As I've studied history and found my heroes, I've realized that none of them were undisciplined. A healthy self-control is vital for us!

  • ashbylane

    I also believe the comments about taking time for solitude are spot on. Solutions to problems I've been working on (usually software related, but others also) seem to leap into the forefront of my mind when I take time to step away and be alone. Again, it’s an intentional thing – our mind needs that time. It's a mystery in so many respects – perhaps it needs the time to better collect, organize and synthesize what its absorbed, or maybe it's simply resting from the absorption of information – or both. But either way, a self-disciplined life with time given to study intensely, but then also wander outside in solitude and to dream….it has produced some of the greatest and most admired souls in history, from Paul to Wilberforce to Jefferson, to Francis Schaeffer and Dallas Willard.

  • Mark H. Maxwell

    My comments are here:

    • Chownage

      If you haven't already read Mark's reply, please do. He outlines 11 points that create the purpose, focus and boundaries that make up his "get'er done" life. Very inspirational.