I recently met up with a friend whom I haven't seen for a while. After exchanging pleasantries I asked him what he was doing these days. He told me that he was taking three months' leave from his job. His son is having his bar mitzvah, and he wants to spend the month beforehand with his son preparing for the event. He wants to study and experience together with his son the deeper meaning and significance of the bar mitzvah, and utilize the time to build a strong and meaningful connection with his son. He also wants to spend meaningful time with all the relatives who are coming from overseas for the occasion, and spend some quiet time after the bar mitzvah with his immediate family.

My first thought was, "This guy's crazy! Who ever heard of doing something like that?" But after thinking more deeply about it, I realized that sometimes we need to allow some extraordinary and unconventional thoughts to enter our thinking process. Just because we have always thought about or done things in a certain way does not mean that there is no other way.

In the 21st century we are constantly busy, rushing to and from school or work, checking our email every 10 minutes. If there's any "left over" time, we spend it slumped in front of the TV. We're so busy making a living that we forget to live a life. And hardly ever do we take the time to stop and think of what we are doing and why we are doing it.

A successful business is constantly looking for ways to improve productivity and increase its profits, and is constantly making necessary changes in order to achieve the desired results. The management does not say: "It was good enough five years ago so it should be good enough now." If they cannot do it themselves they hire consultants to do it for them.

Shouldn't we be at least as enterprising as parents? The fact that we did something a certain way five or ten years ago, or even yesterday, doesn't mean that there is still a reason for us to do it today.

In Jewish tradition, there are times allocated for stopping and re-evaluating our actions. This is done on a daily basis before going to sleep, on a weekly basis on Shabbat, on a monthly basis on Rosh Chodesh (first day of the month) and on a yearly basis before the high holidays. In the land of Israel, the Torah instructs us to observe the shemittah ("sabbatical") year, which is one year in seven during which one is not allowed to work the land, and utilize the year for spiritual growth.

Some of us may need help in securing a chunk of time and ensuring that we utilize it properly. It may be a psychologist, a coach, a good friend or spouse — someone to talk to and give us ideas that we have never thought of before. Someone to help us break free of our limitations and achieve things that we previously thought were "impossible".

Here's an exercise that can be done as a family project: The family sits down to a meeting and has a brainstorming session. One family member takes notes and everyone around the table throws any ideas which come into their mind about solving a certain problem or improving their lives. During this stage of the meeting, there is no discussion on whether or not the idea is practical or relevant. Every idea gets written down — even the craziest ones. Only when this process is finished is each idea looked at for it's own merits, with the thinking process being, "Why not? Maybe it can work. Let's give it a try and go for the impossible." A lot of the ideas mentioned in the session may not make it to the next stage. However, one or two of them will filter through and create new opportunities — including opportunities once thought impossible.

Personally, I can't take off three months for each of my 14 children's bar/bat mitzvahs. But I am grateful to this friend of mine for giving me a new perspective on how to halt — within my limitations — the sometimes mindless flow of my life to consider some "crazy" ideas that may make me a better parent and better person.