I Have Been Stealing

It’s true, I have been stealing. It’s not new behavior. When I was young, I had a problem with stealing things. I am not sure what caused it or why I did it. When I was confronted with the issue I was told I was doing it to get attention. Truth was that I actually preferred no attention at all. It may have been the friends that I had at the time, or just me assuming that I deserved the things I took. After getting into trouble a few times as a youth I was able to kick the habit. I realized that in taking things I was causing inconvenience to someone else. I channeled my need to “get things” I impulsively wanted into a desire to achieve so I could provide for myself as others around me were. A few years later I would start my own business where I ended up being stolen from on multiple occasions.

Now, at 32 years old, I find myself stealing again; stealing time. When I was 25, I made a life change. I decided that I did not want to work long hours anymore. I wanted to begin to set up my life in a way that would allow me to one day be a husband and father. I knew that I could not work 12 hours per day and maintain a loving relationship with my wife and kids. I did not want to be that Dad that was never home and missed their children growing up. I now find myself with a growing business, two full time employees and four different active businesses consuming my focus.

I used to put all ideas and desires through one single litmus test. That test was to determine if a new focus would eventually require more of my time, or less. I was good at testing all potential business ideas.

This year has been crazy. Not only did I have a second child, but my first child broke his leg and was unable to move on his own for 16 weeks. My wife delivered our second child cesarian, so she was unable to assist during many of those weeks. Because of the decisions I made over the last several years, I was able to keep my business running with out anything falling through the cracks. I was very proud of myself. I never thought I would be able to weather a storm such as what we were hit with early this year. God has been great. He knew the desires of my heart and allowed me to live them out.

As 2012 progressed, new ideas were thought up and tested. However this time I was not as smart about testing them against my core values. I impulsively moved forward with ideas that should have been scrutinized more closely. Because I failed to think through every detail I could, I wasted valuable time and money on ideas that I eventually decided to back out of. A test or code to live by is only as good as your ability to follow it.

Now that 2012 is coming to a close, I am realizing how much time and money was spent on new ideas that should have never seen the light of day. Because of that, I feel that I have stolen something valuable from my family; that is my time and financial resources. Money can be earned back, time can not. I have my own rule of measurement that use to determine how much time I am spending on one area of my life or another. Just seeing my kids for an hour or so before bedtime and on weekends is not enough for me. I try to make sure that they get to see my face before I leave. I hate leaving the house before they wake up unless I am coming back home before leaving for work, such as when I go to the gym in the morning. Usually I am home from the gym before they wake up. I am rarely not home when it’s time for them to go to bed. Occasionally I have a wedding to shoot or my wife and I will have a date night, but that’s it. On the weekends, I limit my activities to allow for time to spend with them. Childhood is precious and something I do not want them to go through with out their Daddy around as much as possible. When they get old enough to have their own lives I will once again be able to involve myself in more. I also love being around my wife. I don’t like leaving before she wakes up either, or her going to bed with out me there as well.

I am also guilty of stealing from myself, at work. There are countless hours that I have wasted browsing the web, watching youtube videos or fooling around with some project I will most likely end up killing. This is where I struggle the most. I have tried to find ways to track my time expenditure but have yet to find a solution that is easy to manage. The world creates solutions for people attempting to do average things. Most people have one job through out the day, not 10 or more. I have tried to manipulate tracking services to fit my world, but they all fall short. Maybe this is a problem that I should attempt to solve… There I go coming up with ideas while complaining about how I have to many ideas.

Before this post gets to long, my goal here was to publicly state that I have been stealing from those around me and myself. This past weekend at church in a message titled, “Sin’s Impact On Life,” I learned the following and got this out of it:

  1. There is nothing wrong with seeing an opportunity. We all see opportunities around us and notice things as they present themselves. There is nothing inherently wrong with this.
  2. Wanting an opportunity is the next step. Usually when we see things we like, we want them. Though there is nothing wrong with wanting something, we are one step further in the process of desire and when desire has taken over full-force, it is hard to go back.
  3. Taking an opportunity is the action step. This is where you start the process of creating or producing something. At this point you are beginning to invest time and resources into the project. It is ok to move time and money toward a project if you have done your due diligence and researched the project to your best ability.
  4. When your project does not pan out and you need to kill it, you have two things you can do. You can bury it so nobody knows about it, or you can be honest and talk about it. In this comes a level of embarrassment. When I fail at something, it’s embarrassing. When I fail at something that cost my family and I resources, it is even more depressing. I do an “ok” job at sharing my failures with my wife, but as a man, I want her to see me as a winner, not a failure. When you bury things, they will come to light later. Take the TV show “Bones” for example. Every episode is about something that was dug up and usually results in the demise of the person who did the burying. Always try to avoid burying things that can come up later.

For the most part, my wife knows about most of my failed projects. I often vet information from her because she is a good “control” or neutral point of view to base my reasoning off of. Most of my ideas are tech related and though my wife is above average when it comes to her tech abilities, if she does not understand the need, it’s likely that most won’t.

My goal and promise is that when I come across opportunities or come up with ideas, I will write them down and sit on them for a while before impulsively deciding to develop them. I have gotten comfortable this year in the fact that I have employees that handle a lot of the work load. It gives me time to let my mind run with other thoughts.

From here on out I have decided that I will set priority levels to everything that comes across my desk or pops into my mind. Top priority items will get handled first. New ideas will start out at the bottom of the list. If they fail to rise up in the list of priorities, they will be removed completely. Hopefully this will save me time and money in the longrun while at the same time give me extra resources to focus on my family and my own wellbeing. That is the goal.