Your Simple Path to Unlimited Quality Time

I’m writing this the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  I just got back from the grocery store and it is clear that most of the people around me are in full holiday prepper mode. The shelves were stripped of cans of pumpkin, breadcrumbs, and heavy whipping cream.  It’s time to celebrate and, for many people, this means quality time with family and friends.

Side note: I’ll be working nights all week this week so my celebrating will consist mainly of pre-work puppy time on the sofa.  There won’t be much celebrating and I’ll miss multiple family gatherings.  Let me tell you why I’m completely alright with that.

One of the main themes I hear from my coaching clients is that they long for more quality time with their loved ones (including themselves).  The first thing I typically ask in response is:

       What does quality time mean? 

       How do you know that time is quality time?

The initial response typically describes certain activities or time that has been set aside or scheduled for a specific purpose.  This is where the holidays come into the discussion.  People often look to the large family gatherings that occur around major holidays as examples of quality time.  The criteria seem to be that, since all the participants decided to attend a specific event and that, as the purpose of that event is to spend time together, it must lead to the elusive quality time.

I’m pretty sure, however, that most of you reading this have attended at least one holiday gathering that didn’t have the quality you wanted. Maybe it was too loud and crazy. Maybe the politics got out of hand.  Maybe you spent the entire time cooking and cleaning.  It doesn’t matter.  What matters is that what makes time quality has nothing to do with what you’re doing in the moment.

What makes time quality time is simply the act of believing that this moment is quality time.

I won’t be with my family this Thanksgiving. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have enough quality time with them.  Our brains like to focus on what we don’t have.  Honestly though, I chose a career that comes with working on the holidays.  It does me no good to hold that against myself and punish myself by focusing on the time I am not with my family. 

Instead, I choose to focus on the quality that comes from every moment.  I can’t create more hours in the day to spend with my loved ones, but I can believe that every moment we have together is quality time. 

The other day I got to pick my nephew up from kung fu.  It only took 5 minutes to drive him to the drop-off spot where his sister was playing soccer.  That was quality time.

My niece and mother-in-law stopped by the other day to drop off some holiday crafts.  Even though I was literally walking out the door as they got there, that was quality time.

I’m sitting in my office writing this blog while my husband is out working on our deck.  This is quality time.

I get to spend Thanksgiving night with my colleagues in the emergency department.  We will do our jobs and we will celebrate together. That will be quality time.

There is no limit to the amount of quality time you have in your life.  What would your life look like if you started to believe that you have plenty of quality time with those you love?

Next week I’m going to talk more about how your priorities can shape how you spend your time over the holidays this year.  Until then, please sign up for my free course How To Feel Better On Your Next Shift.  My books remain open for one-on-one coaching clients so, if you’re interested in taking this work to the next level, please email me at