Everything changed in 2020. I recognise I am not sharing any news by saying that, but I wanted to put some thoughts together on what it meant for me, for my family and for my business. And share a little of what I am thinking in 2021. I am currently sitting in a hotel room in mandatory quarantine, after returning from a stint in Tokyo, so no time like the present.
March 13 2020, Friday the 13th, the Australian Grand Prix was cancelled. We perhaps, collectively, didn’t fully comprehend the extent to which things would change from that day forward. It certainly should have been a strong signal given the scale and profile of the GP in Australia’s events landscape. It certainly became more tangible when by the end of the day one of our largest events was cancelled. It would be the first of many.
I founded Sport Projects several years ago. It has been successful. Built simply and sustainably, leveraging my own experience and that of my network. It has generated modest profits each year it has been running. It has sustained a steady and growing number of staff across each year and particularly across the each summer event season. But events, and particularly events like ours, all about ‘mass participation’, have been front row on the firing line, as the COVID-19 juggernaut rolled in. Now, nearly 18 months since the pandemic first presented itself in Australia, governments continue to try and execute a strategy focused on virus suppression, and so the events industry suffers, still.
It has been an 18 months like no other, and COVID-19 has prompted and instigated all manner of changes in our lives, personally. And I recognise we are not alone! Aside from COVID we also had a diagnosis for one of our boys, which confirmed our own suspicions. Clearly he and we would have some challenges ahead as he developed. In that space of time we improved, prepared and sold a house and then we bought a house, in the country! A tree change! We decided to pack up the Melbourne office for the business and shift to a ‘fully distributed’ working model. I increased my reading volume significantly. I learnt a whole host of home improvement skills and deployed them, with success, at our old house, and now at our new one. I learnt how to play chess properly. At the root of the change has been time.
With government restrictions in place for many months all through 2020 it has been ‘tools down’ for the business, for months at a time. It meant many hours of spare time, most weeks. It took some adjustment. I usually don’t know what spare time is. I am a projects guy so I had to invent projects and tasks. Since commencing a profession out of University, my work (or at least how I choose to apply myself to it) has been full time (plus, plus). It taught me very quickly what I had been missing for all of these many years. Time to think, time to consider and time to contemplate. The value in this time has been absolutely immense.
I chose to read blogs, books and articles that spoke to the values that we have always held dear. The extra time that we suddenly had, we enjoyed. We decided that when we returned to a version of normal, that we would make permanent changes, and make room for ongoing contemplation, but mostly for each other. The reading fed that shift in mindset, and we focused on strategies which would ultimately provide us with more time to live more wholesome, supportive and sustainable lives.
Our move from suburban Melbourne to a small regional town has been the most significant change, and we have loved it. Given the ongoing uncertainty with the business and ultimately what has been a dramatic drop in revenue, it has allowed us the additional bandwidth and security that comes with a downshift. We took our time to stop and think and then made good decisions at the right time. We capitalised on the madness that is the current housing market and made giant steps toward our financial independence, seizing control of what will ultimately be more time where we want it. It has been anything but plain sailing and even now, it is stormy waters. But living where we are and how we do gives us a better ship to weather the storm.
My work continues to have its peaks and troughs, and will continue like this for the foreseeable future. But I rarely commute anywhere and rarely need to travel for work at the moment. This ensures that I have time for the most important things, my family, our home and my exercise. We have breakfast together, always, which I love. In fact I share almost every meal with family members. We walk the kids to school, everyday. I collect our youngest from kinder on the back of my bike, most days. And we still easily have time for our projects around the house, most importantly our veggie garden. And I can ride or run out the front gate into endless roads, tracks and trails, and keep physically and mentally healthy. We work smart and live more.
There has been some hugely influential reading over the past 18 months and I can recommend a host of reading to others if they are thinking how we are thinking. How are we thinking in 2021? Well we know that enough is just plenty. That a simpler, slower life is far more enjoyable, and far more sustainable. Being busy is just that, nothing more. Don’t wear busy like a badge. Live with intention, always, and find value in everything, but mostly in your time. Time isn’t money. Time is time, and it is the most valuable commodity of all. Treasure it.