Choosing between Mum and Dad

​The mum is on one side. The dad is on the other. The kid is in the middle. The mum and dad are both calling the kid’s name, trying to persuade her to come to them. They’re competing for her. Trying to see who she loves more.

I’ve seen this scenario played out with Maggie in the Simpsons. I’ve definitely seen a version of it which involves a dog and two owners. The point of it is to settle who the unlucky person or animal in the middle really prefers.

We can use a similar set up to help us understand what we’re attracted to and want to pursue. To help us figure out how we want to spend our time, and thus, what we want to do with our lives.

The first step is to create options. You’re not limited to a choice between two. You can have as many as you like. Think of all the things you’d like to do. Start a business. Learn a language or three. Take up a skill like horse riding or gymnastics. Whatever.

The second step is to ask a question of each of these courses of action. “If I want to do X, what is the immediate next step that will move me closer to doing it?”

The third step is to add a constraint to the selection of possible activities and next actions. Here it is: 

You have a daily one hour window to devote to any one of your options. No more.

The final step is to ask yourself, “How am I going to spend that hour?” Standing in the middle of a circle, surrounded by metaphorical parents, whose call are you going to answer?

Why is this a valuable exercise? Because how we choose to spend a limited amount of time is a good indicator of how we’d like to spend the majority of our time.