What is Success?
Succeeding at work and at home is difficult but not impossible.
Ask most people why they go to work and you’ll probably hear some variation of putting food on the table, or providing for her family, to repaying college loans, or enjoying a specific lifestyle. When you think about it, our clients and bosses are just the middlemen, the people we really work for are our families.
Is success a corner office or a hammock on the beach? A better question is: can it be both?
With deadlines mounting, promotions hanging in the balance, and the demands of running a business, it’s easy to lose sight of the people we work so hard to provide for. Striking a balance between life and work can be tricky, but these five actions will help you balance work with your family life.
1. Success is Holistic
There are so many definitions of success. Many of them use money as a metric. Focusing on wealth might be good for our wallets, but it can also be bad for our family life. True success is holistic. If you are experiencing success at work but failure at home then that isn’t really success. True success may mean you earn a bit less, but your family has you a bit more. Work to ensure you are succeeding both at home and at work versus succeeding at home or at work.
To achieve true success, you need to focus on more than just making money. You must also focus on creating a meaningful and fulfilling life for yourself and your loved ones. This means sacrificing some of the things that bring us financial stability, like staying at the office later or picking up those extra shifts. It will be worth it in the end when you see your family happy and secure.
Why do you go to work? Why do you spend 40+ hours per week, 160+ hours per month, and almost 2,000 long hours a year punching a clock, managing projects, stuck in traffic, and looking forward to weekends? Most of us work to enjoy a lifestyle.
The money we make helps us to take vacations, send our kids to the best schools, buy a house, essentially to provide for the people we love. Don’t let providing for your family undermine your relationship with them.
The best way to make sure that your family is happy and you’re enjoying your job is to have a healthy work-life balance. This means setting realistic expectations for yourself, understanding your needs, and finding balance between your professional life and your personal life that works for you.
I wrote more on this in Family Matters.
3. Imagine The Finish Line
Try this exercise: Imagine you have attained all of the success you could ever desire. You have all of the wealth and influence you could possibly want. You've reached the finish line, who is there cheering for you? Now for the big question: who do you want to be there cheering for you? Can you see their faces? What do those people mean to you?
Now come back to today. How can you strengthen your relationships with the people that mean the most to you? How can you show them how much they mean to you?
The people that mean the most to you are the ones that you want to be there cheering for you. They are the ones that you want to have a relationship with, not just one where they’re there for you when things go well, but also when things don’t go as planned. You need to show them how much they mean to you by being there for them, no matter what.
4. Set Your Priorities
Time moves so quickly, it's easy to miss out on important moments if we aren't careful. Most of us would say our families are our top priority, but in practice, are they really? In the past, have you chosen:
- your daughter’s softball game over an important meeting?
- dinner with the family over another late night at the office?
- your son's birthday party over an important business trip?
You get the point. We have all had to make tough choices. The goal here isn’t to make you feel guilty about past decisions, but to help you make better decisions in the future. Here is where you set boundaries. Here is where you ask yourself the tough questions that help you make the tough decisions later. What gets prioritized gets attention.
5. Keep Your Promises
If you have consistently chosen work over family, your family may not believe you when you say you’ll be at an event or do something around the house. Trust is easy to lose, but really hard to regain. One way you can rebuild trust with your family is to make your word your bond.
Imagine your family as a project and you’re the project manager. Your son’s pee wee football game is a critical path item. Your daughter’s recital is a “very important meeting”. Your date night is an “appointment you can’t cancel”. What I am saying is, handle your family events with the same care you handle your work events.
Say you will be there and then actually be there. Be as reliable, consistent, and dependable at home as you are in the office, maybe even more so.
BONUS: Make small changes for big impact
I make the effort because I have missed once-in-a-lifetime moments. I promised myself that I would do my best not to let work come before family.
If I do have an appointment that conflicts with Movie Night, my family starts the movie later so that I can make the appointment and not miss the time with them.
What would work for your family? A TV night, game night, pizza night? Maybe you need a Daddy or Mommy date day where one of you take your child out and do something fun together. What do you do to make sure that you succeed at home and at work?
Did you have to sacrifice anything to make your family your #1 priority?
However you do it, make sure you schedule some family time into your week. Be creative, be courageous, and be available to the most important people in your life. Because these seemingly small changes will make a huge difference.