Who we are tends to shape our first thoughts.
If you’re single, you may ask yourself.
- How did I get home?
- Where’s my coffee?
- Whose apartment is this?
- What day is it?
- Where was I last night?
- Who is that next to me?
- Is it Saturday yet?
- Are they okay? Where’s my coffee?
- What should I make the kids for lunch? Where’s my coffee?
- Do they have to go anywhere after school? Is it Saturday yet?
- Who won the game last night?
- Do I have any meetings today?
- Did I forget to take out the trash again?
- Golf? Hunting? Happy hour?
- Why don’t I smell coffee?
Yes, we are different people at different times with changing priorities. What you think about in the morning usually shapes your day. Why you ask yourself those questions can tell you something about yourself and your priorities.
When I was employed and a father, work was usually the first thing I thought about. But if there was an issue with my kids such as any of them being sick, or having trouble in school, or with friends, I would think first of them. If I had had a fight with my wife, I would first think about how to get out of that situation. We wake up without the input of others, so our thoughts are often brought on by what our most pressing problems or desires are. We want solutions.
The issue is having the right priorities in your life. If you wake up first thinking about work even though you are having marital problems, that’s a clue to your marital problems. If you wake up thinking about golf because your career is boring and going nowhere, that’s also a clue. If it’s the weekend and you wake up worrying about your career, you are already taking time away from family. But do you realize these hints? Likely not.
I don’t assume one can change what they first think about in the morning because it just happens! But a little reflection about your first thoughts can tell you what is taking up much of your attention. More importantly, it may be able to help you adjust to what may be higher priorities.
Some people think only of themselves. Some bury themselves in their career. Others are always into their kids while forgetting their spouse. There are even those that think of everyone else--forgetting they need downtime and time for themselves to be good for anyone.
We take care of what we think about, therefore we should care about what we think. If we could compartmentalize our lives, it would give us time to think about each important aspect of our life in its own compartment, but we are usually not good about doing that. Subsequently, families can get out of balance when you never get to the ‘family compartment’.
I always have considered balance to be an underrated quality. Of course, to be great at anything takes an inordinate amount of time and effort. If Edison had spent more time with his family than in his laboratory, we may not have progressed as far as we have technologically. On the other hand, if most men would have spent more time with their kids, there would be more successful people. I don’t know what Edison’s children thought of him as a father*, but he may not have given them much time. But for the less brilliant of us, balancing your family with your work is the smart and loving thing to do.
Think about what you think about in the mornings. It just may tell you something about yourself and help balance your life and the lives of your loved ones.
*Note: Although Edison was a famous and wealthy man, being his child was often a difficult experience. Edison’s long hours in the lab meant a lot of time spent away from the family. Growing up in the great man’s shadow meant a lot of pressure on the kids to equal their father’s accomplishments. They did, however, find some success of their own.