Around this time of the year lots of people write about New Year's resolutions.  I also notice a heavy dose of investment blogs about what to do in the coming year.

I'm not a parent, so take what I say here with a grain of salt and accept my apologies if I am speaking out of line.  On other hand, take what I say here and generalise it.  Cross out children and insert wife, husband, partner, dog or goldfish and the same point comes across.
Take some time in the January quiet days and think about how you can arrange your schedule so that you can make the space that you want to make for your family, but especially the children. 

Taking stock is a natural and important thing to do in this life.  How can you possibly go where you want to go if you don't first answer two questions - where do you want to go and what is the plan for getting there.

Steven Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, put this concept across very well.  He compared planning for the future to building a garden shed or a house.  A well constructed building must start with a blue print or a drawing that serves as a reference point or road map.

In life you often get what you pay for.  If you walk out into the back yard with a hammer and nails and start putting pieces of wood together ad-hoc, more than likely you'll wind up and a shed that looks ad-hoc. If, on the other hand, you start with a basic concept and create some plan, chances are you'll think a little more about intended use, form, and features and you'll buy the right amount of wood and the right number of screws (I recommend screws when working with wood, not nails) and you'll have a well proportioned, well built shed.

Life is not so straight forward as Steven seems to say, but his points are well taken and one of them stands out in my mind as being really appropriate and important to reflect on at the start of the New Year.

Steven talks a lot about setting priorities and putting the things you are most about at the top of list.  He continues to say that when you set certain priorities and make an effort consistently to conduct your life accordingly you'll wind up more in control about what you are doing when and you'll generally command more respect in the process and you'll naturally do more to organise yourself around these priorities.

Facebook is one of the tools I use to keep track of what my friends and stay in touch.  The internet made social networking possible and created a paradigm shift in our fundamental ability to communicate (and mis-communicate) with people.  If used well it can enrich our lives dramatically, especially when it makes sharing our experience and maintaining contact with people we care about.

I notice on Facebook how many of my friends post pictures of their children and their wives and husbands and their dogs and cats.  This is a big contrast to Linkedin, where it seems nobody talks about anything other than economics, finance, marketing and business. Often I look at a person's profile on Facebook on that person's LinkedIn page and I wonder if they really are the same person.

First weekend in January is an excellent time for sitting down to do at least some short term planing.  Hence, its a good time for setting or re-setting priorities.  For many of us our family is among the highest priorities.
It may often seem like family has to take a back seat to career.  But in fact, family need not take a back seat.  For that matter, career need not take a back seat.  Each must be balanced and taken into the planning.

So far all the working parents I have a suggestion.  Use the quiet time during then first few weeks in January to take a look at your children's calendars.  Remind yourself just when is the next school play or concerts, when are baseball games and soccer games, when are the important exams they need to be prepared for and what else is coming up in the coming months that is important in their lives and by extension, in your life.
Then have a look at your work calendar, the business trips you may have to take, the important presentations you need to deliver, the marketing events or financial conferences you need to attend to and the things you need to be prepared for.

Finally, look at the intersections and identify things you can do so that you can be at the school play or the baseball game or at home to help your son or daughter prepare for the exam.  Don't expect you'll be able to arrange everything the way you want.  Don't set high expectations.  Find just one or two events that you and your family consider important and do everything you can to plan around those events.
Knowing what is important in life is just one part of what it takes to create a good life.  Another important part is organising yourself so that you can experience, share and enjoy as much of what is important as you can.

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