be intentional

3 Opportunities Dads Miss to Be Intentional Every Day

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Years ago, at a different job, when my boss had a new challenge for me, he called it an “opportunity.” I can hear him now: “Ryan, I have an opportunity for you!” As dads, I think we have opportunities in front of us that we miss every single day—things we shouldn’t overlook. And we need to be intentional if we’re going to see them.

I have a challenge for you. See the opportunities in front of you today. I don’t often get this right and I’m about to share some of that. Basically, I’ve learned a few things about what to do and what not to do. Here are 3 opportunities dads miss every day.

1. Starting Your Day Right

Many dads struggle because they start their mornings wrong. We think we need more sleep—and maybe we do some days. But what we most often need is for our mornings to start with purpose. If your house is like mine, early morning is the only opportunity for quiet time for yourself. Trust me, if you miss the morning, you’ll miss the day. You’ll feel less intentional, which ultimately turns into feeling overwhelmed.

Every morning, you have an opportunity to set your day on a firm foundation. I need my morning quiet time to think, reflect, and plan. For me, this means reading scripture, journaling, reviewing my schedule for the day, and reviewing my goals. Jesus said, “Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much…” If you want to be faithful as a father, start with your morning.

2. Unplugging From Work

This part of my day is where I’m weakest. Recently, I asked my kids if they’d put their phones down for “just a moment.” One of my daughters replied, “But, Dad, you never put your phone down.” My first thought was, “Dang, she’s rude.” My next thought was, “But, she’s not wrong.” I may be home and in the same room with my family, but I’m checking emails, news, or social media on my phone. I think I’m doing family time and crushing some work stuff. But all I’m really doing is spending time with my phone—not my family. If you create a lifestyle of not unplugging from work, you’re missing a big opportunity to be intentional. You’re ultimately letting your family know something else is more important. And you’re modeling how not to use your time and attention.

There are a few things I’ve learned that help me unplug from work. A good day means cleaning my email inbox, skimming my schedule for the next day, and reflecting on how I spent my day. On my best days, I literally shut down and close my laptop. That’s my signal to be home with my family. Learning to unplug from work is difficult, but it’s vital if you want to seize the opportunity to show your kids what’s truly important.

The dad who doesn’t have time for himself in the morning is the same dad who stayed up too late last night.

3. Prepping for Tomorrow

Imagine you’ve completed all your other “opportunities” for the day. Don’t stop now. Many dads go wrong at this stage. They’re thinking, “I’ve worked hard. It’s time to kick back!” The dad who doesn’t have time for himself in the morning is the same dad who stayed up too late last night. What you do before bed can prepare you well for the next day.

On my best nights, I make sure the house is somewhat in order and review my to-do list for the next day. I have a whole routine I go through before bed. Once I’m settled, this is often the time when my kids want to talk. Honestly, they become question-asking philosophers at night because they’re avoiding brushing their teeth. But if I’ve been intentional with my day, this is a great time to be calm and connect with my family. I can rest easy knowing I haven’t missed my opportunity. String together a few things like starting your day right, unplugging from work in the evening, and preparing well for the next day, and you’ll set yourself up for being intentional the next morning.  

Sound off: Which one of these opportunities do you miss most often?