I should probably apologize because no doubt by the time you are old enough to read this letter, this principle will likely have been modeled and so drilled into you that the last thing you will want to do is read a letter on it. However, that doesn’t make it any less true so you get to hear it from me again here.
The pricelessness of flexibility in work and life comes back to the fact that time is that precious resource that we can never buy back. Once your time is spent, it is gone, whether it is intentionally spent by you or by the dictates of someone else, the result is the same.
We are so blessed to live in a time and place with more choices than at any other time in human history. We can choose where to live, what to eat, where to work, who we marry, and the list is nearly endless.
And yet, so many people choose to box themselves in by making choices that ensure inflexibility. Things like employment, where many spend most of their lives, which is chosen without much thought toward flexibility other than how much vacation time is offered. Things like housing, where, under the guise of “happiness”, many choose to buy the most house they can "afford" without thinking of how this locks them into their current needed income, which limits their ability to weather job losses, pay cuts, or simply no longer enjoying their work.
In regards to flexibility of work and life, I most definitely grew up with the advantage of seeing this modeled by your grandfather, my dad. We grew up on a Christmas tree farm, which meant hard work was never far away and that from early November to the end of December each year Dad worked long hours, often from 4am to 11pm, to harvest the Christmas trees, usually in the cold Oregon rain. This brings back memories of elbowing Dad in church during those months as he would be caught “resting his eyes”.
I could go on for far too long about the lessons I learned on the farm and from your grandfather. But the one we are focused on here is flexibility. Although we never had lots of money, we had enough, and Mom and Dad made it go far. And more than that, we had Dad. In the off seasons, Mom and Dad took us on cross country trips, four to five weeks long, visiting family and their college friends all over the US. All of us would pack into a van, pickup truck, or motorhome and spend weeks together as a family. The flexibility to do this created some of the best memories for all of us kids. During the year, Dad was able to take off work early or take days off for more important things in life (like my basketball games).
The benefits of Dad’s flexibility were never lost on me and it drives many of the decisions that I make today in the work I do and the commitments I take on. You will find that maintaining this flexibility requires you to be very intentional in the choices you make. You cannot simply assume that others will allow you to have this flexibility. You must constantly defend it and build your life through its lens. I am still learning on this journey but it is one that has allowed me to spend over two months with you in this first year of your life, away from work. Twenty years from now, will I say to myself, “I really wish I would have worked those two months during Randon’s first year of life and made more money”? Never. This is time that I can never get back so I must choose to spend it accordingly.
Flexibility doesn’t happen by accident. Others won’t give it to you. You must choose it and plan for it. You will not be sorry for building the pricelessness of flexibility into your work and life.