Yesterday evening I was home for dinner with my wife and my mother-in-law, Phyllis. It did not go well.
It was one of those days I had designed to fit in so much—work meetings right up until dinner, a meditation group immediately after, and even a 1:1 meeting before the meditation group.
Life doesn’t go as planned. My sales meeting ran 20 minutes late and my wife needed 5 minutes of help moving something before I left. My time with Phyllis shrank from 60 to 35 minutes.
Thirty-five minutes might have been enough time to meaningfully connect, but I missed the opportunity anyway. While my body was next to Phyllis, my mind was elsewhere. I was distracted by the perceived need to eat dinner as quickly as I could, the desire to not be late again, and the list of things to do at home—feeding the dog and moving a mirror. At one point Phyllis said, “You seem really distracted.”
Ten minutes before leaving, it hit me. I had missed dinner. I looked at Phyllis and my wife, apologized for the missed opportunity to connect with them, and made the best of the final minutes.
What went wrong here?
Some might say I was too optimistic with my schedule. As someone who gets energy from action-packed days, the answer “do less” has never sat well with me.
So, if not “do less”, then what? How could I have been more present while still making the most of every hour in my day leading up to dinner?
One solution is to work on the transition between activities. It is in the transitions where things tend to go haywire for most of us.
What if I had taken 30 seconds to reflect on my intentions before walking in to dinner? I might have thought (1) connect with Phyllis and (2) be on time to the next thing. I probably would have eaten and fed the dog anyway, but my mindset would have been different.
I would have been there.
What is the next important transition for you today? What can you do to make sure you show up as the person you want to be in the next interaction? Taking 30 seconds to set an intention can go a long way.