Focus on the Things That Matter
How many of us realise what is most important is right in front of us, right now? So while we are distracted chasing a career or that promotion we were promised, we are sacrificing time with our families that we will never get back.
The other night my wife and I were commenting how much our little girl is growing up. She was waking up in the morning and starting to dress herself, mostly – she stills seems to manage to tie herself in knots putting on a singlet! It reminded me again of a simple poem I read some time back that I have never forgotten – “The Last Time”. It reminds us that our time having our children young and dependant on us is so fleeting, and that there will be a last time for everything we do with them.
Now while this somewhat of a depressing thought, what it should really do is wake us up to what is happening right in front of us, right now!
Our time with our children is so fleeting…..there will be a last time for everything we do with them
I remember some time back, when I was seeking to understand more about what success means, I took time to meet with those who I considered successful – in most cases business people who had ‘made it’. I met with one gentleman who was the chairman for a mining company. It turned out to be one of the most profound meetings I had. There I was seeking the secret of success, waiting for the gems of ideas to flow to me. Instead he looked at me and said, “don’t give up your time with your children, as you can never get it back!”
How many people do you know, including yourself, that have fallen in this trap?
As my career progressed and I became a senior manager I tried to strike a better work/life balance. For the most part I think I did a reasonable job. But there was always times when I felt I was giving way too much to the company and not enough to my family. A mentor of mine pointed out that the ‘company’ simply doesn’t care how much time we give to our jobs – as long as the work is done. But what do you do when the work is never ending?
As a manager of team of professionals, I tried to be that leader that instilled a work life balance. More than once I would talk to my team members and tell them to pack up and go home, instead of remaining at work until well after their kids were in bed. I even shared this poem, “The Last Time”, with them, and yet you wouldn’t believe how hard it was to get them to go home. Somehow they had fallen hard for the idea of work hard on your career, give everything to your company, sacrifice your time with your family and you’ll receive your ‘reward’ – sometime in the future…..
So what is the answer?
I believe it is having a deep understanding what means that most to you. What is you ‘ideal day’ and why aren’t you living it now? How can you spend more time with your family, while you achieve the level of income you require?
Perhaps we have it wrong. Perhaps it’s not the salary increase we need, but be paid the same for doing our work in less time, giving us more time with our family.
I really do believe as parents we feel the need to give our children everything. This pressure often falls to one spouse as the main income provider. If we only woke up and realised that sometimes being the best Dad or Mum, is to simply turn up in our children’s lives! Our kids will never remember the toys they had growing up, but they will remember the times you stood on the sidelines of their sports and cheered them on. The times when we were at their school assembly to see them receive the merit awards, or simply the time we were there for them to tell us how their day went.
Again, it’s being clear on what really means the most to you. Write down what your ideal day looks like! What would it take to start living it now?
Should you quit your job today – probably not. But having a goal and a clear plan to attain the life you’re after is key. Having this clarity will help you create the life you want and free your time up. How? You will make better decisions around your time. You will choose to attend your child’s special event, rather than sit in another (pointless) meeting. And when you do, the world will keep turning and you will still meet your deadlines in the office.
And if this inspired you to make make bigger changes, then you will begin to have clarity on what type of work better suits your needs. It may be to seek out a job with a company that has a better balance, or to start your own business and really take control of things.
For me, starting an online business has been the answer, giving me the flexibility to be more present in my family life. I get to drop the kids to school, and the simple task of driving the kids home from school and have them tell you about their day is simply the best.
What are you going to do to simply be there for your family?
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